Tapioca is a starch derived from the cassava root. It is used with both sweet and savoury dishes, it has a very neutral taste and therefore is very versatile. Tapioca starch is very popular as a gluten-free alternative. It is a dried product which is sold as powder or flakes but mainly as pearls. Tapioca is commonly used for puddings, desserts and as a thickener and binding agent.
We take a look at how different countries use this versatile ingredient:
AFRICA: Mostly eaten in the regions of Nigeria and Ghana for breakfast. In Nigeria the cassava is grated and dry roasted and eaten by adding water and sugar accompanied by meat or smoked fish.
NORTH EAST INDIA: Tapioca is generally eaten as a snack, usually boiled with a bit of salt in water. Another variation is to dry the tapioca after cutting it, then it is powdered into flour and made into a dough to make fried or baked biscuits. The skin of the tapioca (which is not safe for human consumption) is kept aside for meals made for domesticated pigs.
ASIA: Tapioca pearls are widely used to make snacks; and it an essential ingredient to make Taiwanese bubble tea.
WEST INDIES: Tapioca is a staple for dishes such as pepper pot, desserts such as cassava pone. Also used for alcohol and teeth cleaning.
NORTH AMERICA: Tapioca flour is a great substitute for people who avoid or are allergic to gluten and wheat and is used to make bread. Allergy sufferers need to be cautious as they need to ensure the tapioca flour is pure with no added wheat.
INDIA: Tapioca pearls are a common ingredient for traditional indian dishes such as kheer.
Whether you suffer from intolerance or not, tapioca starch can be very useful. Try a few tapioca starch recipes and see how it can benefit you.