A number of cultures use tapioca – a starch that comes from the cassava root – in their cooking and baking. Growing up in my Indian home, we used tapioca to make payasam. A milk (cow’s or coconut) based dessert, sweetened with sugar or jaggery (a dark sugar byproduct that tastes like molasses) and spiced with saffron and cardamom, payasam is an Indian dessert staple. There are a number of different versions of payasam, depending on which ingredients you select from a long list that includes rice, lentils, semolina, raisins, and almonds.
For my tapioca image overhaul, I decided to use one of my favourite flavours: coconut. I cooked the tapioca in water and separately made a liquid mix of coconut milk and coconut sugar, vanilla and a pinch of cardamom. I served this rich, coconut infused pudding with raspberries and flaked almonds - simple and delicious!
coconut tapioca with vanilla and raspberries
1/2 cup tapioca pearls
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tbsp coconut sugar (or alternative sweetner)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Bring a pot with water to boil, add in tapioca pearls and cook while stirring – about 10-12 minutes until almost transparent. Strain and keep aside. In another pot, add coconut milk, coconut sugar, vanilla and cardamom and mix well on medium heat. Add cooked tapioca and cook a few more minutes (adjust for taste and thickness). Take off heat and keep aside to cool down. I like to refrigerate my tapioca for a few hours to let the flavours infuse and to ensure the pearls increase in volume, which adds to the creaminess of the dish.
If using raspberries, add a bit of sugar and mix to form a delicious sweet liquid and add to tapioca and finish with almonds. Enjoy!