Blog - What are Tapioca Pearls?

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What are Tapioca Pearls?

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Made from cassava starch, sweet potato and brown sugar, tapioca pearls are considered very unique. Many people might know them as the miniature, chewy balls found in pudding or in the popular Asian bubble tea. They however hold very few nutritional benefits because they are pure starch. Tapioca pearls are not considered very healthy and nourishing because they contain high amounts of carbohydrates. However when comes to cooking and doing something creative, tapioca pearls are quite impressive.

Tapioca Pearl Dish 

Source: Pixabay

It is gluten-free and vegan

Tapioca pearls are among those ingredients that have no specific taste, thus making them great to use in sweet or savoury recipes that require a thickening or gelling agent. You can also grind it into a flour with a similar texture to cornstarch. "Tapioca starch" as it is called is often times used in gluten-free breads and is great for vegan dishes. It acts as an egg replacer as its gelling properties help bind the breads and cakes. In fact, most South Indian dishes utilize these wonderful pearls to their fullest in many of their dishes serving up delightful cuisines. 

 Tapioca pearls come in a number of size that can range from 1 mm to 8mm in diameter. Use the smaller pearls for puddings and use the larger ones for making boba tea. Tapioca is also available in the form of flakes and powders. You may use these to thicken sauces, gravies and soups. Because tapioca is a dry product, it can be stored for a very long time in a tightly sealed container. This helps to prevent exposure to heat and moisture.
 

Popular dishes made from Tapioca Pearls

In traditional Indian cuisine, these pearls add quite some taste to the Tapioca Khichdi. They are made by combining grounded peanut powder, salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder with lemon juice topping. In the famous tapioca pudding, soak the pearls and then add them to boiled milk. You can proceed to add sugar, cardamom, saffron and sometimes almonds additional flavour.

Ground tapioca 

Source: Pixabay

Sweet fruit soup is another mouth watering delicacy that is a great finish to any meal. Soak the small pearls and green cardamom in water at least 30 minutes before cooking, then add diced fruit.

Another tapioca sensation is Kappa masala, which is a Kerala-style tapioca masala dish. This dish is quite prevalent and popular among locals for its unique taste. Serve it with chicken curry or vegetable curry.