Everything You Need To Know About Tapioca Root
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If you’re South Indian, or remotely interested in the cuisine, you would’ve probably heard of the Keralan toddy shop delicacy of kappa-meen curry – a preparation of spicy fish curry served with a boiled root vegetable called tapioca. And if that seems too far-flung a visual to recollect, visit any store making freshly fried chips and ask for a packet of crunchy tapioca wafers. The gluten-free starch extracted from the cassava root, has wide uses across many sweet and savoury dishes around the world.

Sago pearls (sabudana), a derivation of the tapioca tuber, is one of the most popularly available and used ingredients in dishes like khichdi, kheer, vadas, etc. Also known as yucca, tapioca is also consumed across parts of South America and Africa. The starch from the tuber is also used to make flour, which works as a great substitute for those who observe fasting. Most often, tapioca products are off-white or translucent in colour and turn a pearly white on hydration.

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Not to forget, tapioca pearls are a popular element to the internet-s favourite beverage – boba tea. Traditionally, tapioca was used to make candles and desserts, in addition to being used as a thickening agent or starch component for soups, gravies and stews. It also works as an excellent gluten-free binder to add to minced meat for kebabs, meatballs or chicken nuggets. It is also particularly favoured when a recipe must maintain a light texture and hold moisture in the absence of a gluten element.

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Tapioca doesn’t have a particular flavour of its own and borrows tastes from whatever dishes it is added to. Depending on whether the dish is sweet or savoury, it takes on flavours and works as a great bland ingredient to have on a plate with strong or pungent flavours. The gel extracted from tapioca is also known to be a great dairy-free thickener for milkshakes, soups and creamy sauces. Most common grocery stores stock up on some form of tapioca – in the form of flour or pearls, or on some occasions, the actual tuber itself.

As long as tapioca isn’t peeled, it keeps well for many weeks but must be used as soon as possible once cut opened and peeled. Typically, leaving it on the kitchen counter in a cool, dry place is ideal as, like in the case of most other tubers, the starch composition might change when temperatures drop. Slice the tuber to make crunchy chips at home or use the flour to make crepes and pancakes; use tapioca pearls in all kinds of sweet and savoury Indian dishes.