What’s common between the people of the South Indian state of Kerala and the South American country of Brazil? There is the obvious answer – “football“, but I am fishing for something else here!
Other than football, it’s the love for cassava, aka tapioca, that brings them together! This tuber, originally from South America, was introduced into India by the Portuguese, and has been a popular crop in Kerala from late 1800s.
One of the purest forms of starch, tapioca is a rich source of carbohydrates. By balancing it with sources of protein and dietary fibre, you can make a full meal out of it.
Back to Kerala – travel across the state, on the road, or off the road in houseboats, you’ll notice all toddy shops, and all local eateries featuring their own versions of mushy tapioca (or Kappa, as it’s called there). This recipe is my tribute to all the great mushy tapioca variants I have come across!
Mustard seeds, curry leaves, crushed dry chillies, and garlic, fried in coconut oil and mixed with mushy tapioca with a seasoning of turmeric and salt.
For me, that’s the gooey joy of food!
PS: Pair it well to strike a great balance of flavours. Watch this space for the Part II – Kerala Fish Curry. That’s what you call a classic combination!
Mushy Tapioca (Kappa & Meen Curry Part 1)
- 500 grams tapioca (cassava / kappa)
- 5 - 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon chillies crushed dry
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- to taste salt
- Wash the tapioca, score along the surface using a sharp knife, and peel the skin off. Discard the skin, and cut the tapioca into small 1-2 inch pieces. Place them in a pot, and pour water keeping the level about an inch above the tapioca pieces.
- Cook with the lid closed, bring to boil, and cook till the tapioca pieces are tender. Switch off, drain the water, and keep the cooked tapioca aside.
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic cloves, and mix well with the crushed dry chillies. Heat oil in a pan, and splutter mustard seeds. Add the garlic-chilli mix, and fry for a few seconds.
- Add curry leaves, and fry for a few more seconds.
- Add the cooked tapioca pieces to the fried mix.
- Add turmeric and salt.
- Mix well until the tapioca is evenly covered by the fried mixture.
- Add a cup of water and bring to boil. This is my trick to get it gooey, sticky! Reduce till the water disappear, and you get tapioca to a mushy consistency.
- Mushy tapioca is ready to serve.