This starchy, gluten-free tuber is delicious to recreate some of your favourite recipes with, for its earthy and nutty flavours that take on pretty much every kind of sweet and savoury ingredient to create the best mouthfeel possible!
Tapioca root is a popular fasting food for most festivals in India and is a staple food across many different cultures and cuisines. The starchy root vegetable is known to be an excellent gluten-free replacement in flour form as well as eaten as pearls (sabudana), most often. While the ingredient is quite prominent across regional food in Kerala and Maharashtra, not much is known about how to cook the vegetable itself, which lends its fibrous, mushy textures to all kinds of sweet and savoury recipes.
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This upgraded version of mashed potatoes with a typical South Indian tempering can put any kind of creamy mash to shame. This delicious but simple preparation mainly involves steaming the tapioca until it turns soft and mushy, before it is tempered with spices and a touch of turmeric powder to enhance its pale yellow colour, once cooked. The flavours of this dish range from savoury to slightly spicy, and pairs well with a coconut chutney on the side or a bowl of fresh yoghurt.
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This finely chopped dry sabzi preparation of the tapioca root is a quintessential Tamil regional dish that is eaten as an accompaniment to rasam and rice. Since tapioca root is a dense tuber, it helps to parboil the diced tapioca, before tossing in oil and spices. Depending on what you have stocked up, you can switch or mix-and-match spices and ingredients to see what you enjoy most, since tapioca absorbs the flavours from other ingredients it is usually combined with.
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An interesting take on the kappa-meen curry classic that is eaten around toddy shops in Kerala, this prawn curry with delicious, fluffy cubes of tapioca is a great accompaniment to a bowl of steamed rice. The perfect kind of weekend dinner, you could swap the prawns with any kind of seafood of your choice – mackerel, clams, surmai or pomfret. Adding a bit of raw mango gives it some tartness and a classic summery touch, which can easily be replaced by tomatoes during other times of the year.
Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding
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A classic dessert recipe across many ethnicities around the world, tapioca pudding is one of those comfort food recipes, you would find yourself making over and over. Using any kinds of whole spices to infuse the milk in which the tapioca cooks, is a great way of letting it permeate through the tapioca, before it is made into an airy souffle-like pudding, best enjoyed straight out of the oven.
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One of the easiest and best ways to enjoy tapioca root, these chips are crunchier and slightly thicker than a standard potato chip and taste delicious when used as a dipper to eat with hummus, tomato chutney or even on its own, along with a cup of chai. Since this recipe does not involve pre-cooking the tapioca before it is fried in hot oil, it is important to keep the tuber soaked in some water for at least 20 minutes, before it is cooked with.
1 large tapioca root
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
Oil, for frying
Salt, to taste
Peel and clean the tapioca root thoroughly before soaking in some water for 15-20 minutes. Remove it and pat dry thoroughly before slicing into thin roundels with a really sharp knife.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and drop the tapioca slices, few at a time, into the oil. Once it fries, you will see it brown on the edges as your indicator that it has cooked completely.
Remove on to absorbent kitchen towels and season with plenty of red chilli powder and salt.