tapioca

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Also known as

Shimla aloo, Shimla alu, Yucca, Kachalu.

Description

Tapioca plant is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. The plant grows to a height of 1-3 meters and several roots maybe found on each plant. Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the plant species Manihot esculenta and has many names, including cassava, bitter-cassava, "Sagudana" (literally, Sagu drops)--with local variation of "Sabudana"--and "kappa". The Tapioca Pearls are known as "Sabudana" in Marathi. It is commonly used as a food during fasting (popularly called khichdi) among Hindus in Western and central part of India (Gujarat & Maharashtra region). Tapioca is a staple food in some regions and is used worldwide as a thickening agent, principally in foods. Tapioca is gluten free, and nearly protein free. The commercial form of tapioca most familiar to many people is pearl tapioca.

Chopped tapioca- Tapioca should be washed very well since they tend to collect dirt. Put the washed and peeled tapioca on a chopping board and chop them in small 1-2 inch sized pieces with a sharp knife. They may be chopped in to big chunks or smaller ones as per the recipe. The tapioca may also be chopped without peeling.

Sliced Tapioca- With a sharp knife the tapioca is sliced on four sides to create a thick rectangular stick, then cut lengthwise into approximately 3 mm (1/8 inch) slices. Stacking these slices and again cutting lengthwise into strips creates thin uniform square sticks or thin slices.

Peeled tapioca- Peel the outer skin of the tapioca with a peeler or a knife. The soft flesh inside can be pulped or deseeded as per recipe.

Grated Tapioca- Tapioca can be washed, peeled and grated with a grater.

Parboiled tapioca- Parboiling is a cooking technique in which tapioca are partially cooked in boiling water, but removed before it is cooked all the way through. Many recipes call for parboiled tapioca as they longer to cook. Parboiling them in advances ensures that they get completely cooked in the final dish.

Blanched tapioca- The peeled tapioca are blanched by placing them into boiling water for less than a minute, and then immediately cooled down in cold water. The blanched tapioca may be later mixed with sesame oil, garlic, salt, and often other ingredients as per the recipe.

Boiled tapioca
As the name suggests refers to the tapioca which are boiled. You can use two cups of water per cup of chopped tapioca. You may use big chunks of peeled or unpeeled tapioca. These proportions are based on cooking with the pot cover on. This way, it will cook a little faster, use less energy, and perhaps retain more vitamins. You may also pressure cook the tapioca with or without salt for 2-3 minutes in boiling water.
Tapioca cubes
Turn the tapioca on its side and make a series of slices. Lay the tapioca on top of each other and make a series of lengthwise slices, (½ inch slices for smaller cubes, 1 inch slices for larger cubes. Make a series of ½ inch or 1 inch crosswise cuts through the tapioca and it will fall away into cubes.

How to select

Select the tapioca roots which are firm and without any blemishes or soft spots. The tapioca powder should be checked for lumpiness and best before date.

Culinary uses

" Tapai is made by fermenting large blocks with a yeast-like bacteria culture to produce a sweet and slightly alcoholic dessert.
" Tapioca powder is commonly used as a thickener for soups and other liquid foods
" The flour is used to make tender breads, cakes, cookies, and other delicacies. Flakes are used to thicken the filling of pies made with fruits having a high water content.
" In southern parts of India, especially the state of Kerala, much tapioca is consumed, either boiled or cooked with spices. Tapioca and fish curry could be considered official food of Kerala
" Tapioca is thinly sliced in and made into wafers like salted potato wafers
" This is used to make a light porridge by adding milk or buttermilk, recommended for patients recovering from illness
" In Brazilian cuisine, the tapioca is stirred, drained through a sieve, fried into a tortilla shape, and often sprinkled with coconut. Then it may be buttered and eaten as a toast (as a breakfast dish), or it may be filled or topped with either doces (sweet) or salgados (salty) ingredients.

How to store

Store tapioca roots in a plastic wrapped sheet in the refrigerator. The tapioca starch or powder can be stored in an air tight container and used for 2-3 months.

Health benefits

" Among the starchy staples, Tapioca gives a carbohydrate production which is about 40% higher than rice and 25% more than maize with the result that Tapioca is the cheapest source of calories.




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