Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to the North-East region of Brazil, but its usage spread throughout South America.
The plant was carried by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies and Africa and Asia. It is a tropical, perennial shrub that is less commonly cultivated in temperate climate zones. Cassava thrives better in poor soils than many other food plants
The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’óka, a name in the Tupí language spoken by natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the North-East Region of Brazil around 1707. Tupí refers to the process by which the cassava starch is made edible.
Tapioca predominantly consists of carbohydrates, with each cup containing 23.9 grams of 105 calories; it is low in saturated fat, protein and sodium. One serving of tapioca pudding contains no dietary fibre, a small amount of oleic acid, and no omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids.
Tapioca is the white starchy extract from cassava. it’s fermented, flaky version is the garri we all know. It’s a staple food in some parts of Nigeria and it has similar consistency with pap, from the way it is prepared to the way it is eaten, though its physical appearance looks more like it has got round, clear starch bubbles in it.
The first major step is to produce tapioca starch (i.e tapioca flour). The cassava must be cleaned and peeled, then finely grated or milled to break the cell walls and expose the starch. This mass is then washed in a large amount of water and the insoluble pulp is strained out and the starchy water reserved.
The starch-water mixture, called “Starch milk”, is allowed to settle for 6-7 hours and the water is drained off until a thick slurry is left. This slurry is then either purified further with more water then dried to form the flour. The additional washing of the slurry is important to remove residual insoluble fibre and, more importantly, cyanide-related toxins naturally found in the cassava. Traditional cultures dried the slurry on basketwork trays, but it is more efficient to do it in an oven at low temperature with regular raking and turning. The dried starch would then be sifted and used for cooking.
Preparing Tapioca: most people will think tapioca is a very hard and complex food to prepare, but surprisingly, it involves just three steps.
To prepare tapioca, you will need: 1 cup Tapioca starch, 1 cup Coconut Milk, 1/2 cup Sugar, Milk (As desired), Water (As desired).
Step 1: Place the Tapioca flour or starch in a medium sized bowl and pour water over it; just enough to cover the tapioca in the bowl for about 15 minutes.
Step 2: Transfer the soaked tapioca into a small pot and pour the coconut milk over it. Add some water (Just enough to cover the contents in the pot) and turn on the burner to medium.
Step 3: Cook till starts to look translucent for about 10-15 mins. Once it’s translucent, the starch is ready to eat. Turn off the burner; add milk and sugar – then serve.