- Submitted by Dahlia
(How to clean Cassava Root?, Cutting Tapioca)
Cassava or Tapioca is a starchy root vegetable that is a rich source of carbohydrate. It has a thick brown outer skin and the inner edible portion is white in color. I remember my uncle saying that there are two varieties of cassava root – one is bitter in taste and the other has a mild sweetness to it. The bitter variety is poisonous. Even cattle that accidentally consumed this have died in his village. These days only the edible ones are sold in super markets.
This can be cooked in several ways including baking, boiling, steaming and frying. After cooking, it has a soft and creamy texture to it. In India, it is served with spicy curries or used in spicy preparations like adai, biryani etc. It is also used to make sweet preparations like payasams, puttu etc.
The process of cleaning the tapioca needs a little effort. These days you also find frozen tapioca which is pre cleaned and chopped. Tapioca is also available in dried form. You may very well cook with it. The taste of fresh tapioca is however totally different. I usually prefer to buy it fresh. For the sake of beginners who are followers of my website, I decided to make this elaborate post on how to cut, clean and prepare the cassava root for cooking.
Video Instruction On Preparing Tapioca For Cooking
How to choose good tapioca (Cassava)?
When you buy tapioca, first visually check all around the tapioca to see if any side is rotten. Overall, the tapioca should be firm. Then, break the tapioca into half so that the inner flesh is visible. If it is pure white in color, it is fresh. If there are black lines inside, the tapioca is old. Old tapioca will be hard to cook and will not be soft and buttery like the fresh ones.
How to prepare tapioca (cassava)?
- Trim the edges of the cassava root and cut into big pieces, each size about 2-3 inches in length. This way it is easier to peel than peeling the whole tapioca.
- Now take each piece and peel the skin. Tapioca has a thin brown skin and a thicker pinkish akin inside. Only after you remove these two layers, the inner white flesh will be visible. Traditionally grandmothers would make a slit in one side and with the tip of a knife just remove the skin. If the tapioca is fresh, the skin comes off easily from the flesh.
- Another option is to stand the tapioca piece on a wooden board and cut the skin using a sharp knife.
- After peeling, cut each of these pieces into 4-5 big chunks. While cutting, remove and discard the thick center core strand in the tapioca. Big pieces of tapioca are perfect for making boiled tapioca. If you plan to prepare a side dish with tapioca or make mashed tapioca, then you have to cut into smaller cubes.
- Wash the cut cubes in cold water for at least 3-4 times to remove all the mud stuck to it. The tapioca pieces should be white in color after washing. Now it is ready for cooking.
How to cook Tapioca?
- Take the cut tapioca pieces in a big pot or a pressure cooker.
- Fill with lot of water so that the pieces are fully submerged and there is water at least 2-3 inches above the tapioca pieces. Since it is a starchy root vegetable, it comes out better when cooked with plenty of water.
- Also add 1 tsp of salt to the water.
- Switch on the stove and bring the water to boil. Reduce the flame and simmer for 10-15 minutes till the pieces are cooked soft. If using a pressure cooker, close the lid and cook for 2 whistles. Switch off and let the pressure go down.
- Drain the excess water using a big colander.
Your basic Boiled Tapioca (Kappa Puzhigiyathu) is ready.
- This simple boiled tapioca can be had with some spicy chammandhi (thick chutney). Some of the best combinations are with ulli (shallot) chammandhi, thenga (coconut) chammandhi, mulavu (chili) chammandhi and puli (tamarind) chammandhi.
- It can also be served with some sugar. Some people also like to serve with some fresh grated coconut mixed with sugar.
- It also tastes great with fish curry or beef curry.
More Tapioca Recipes