I am so happy to be writing this because I stumbled upon Tapioca by accident, whilst rearranging the store. It was sitting right underneath my bag of rice. It was a pleasant discovery because I had insisted that my mum bring it along with her, and she had to go hunting specially for it as tapioca is not exactly common in our local markets. She won’t be too pleased to hear that I am just cooking it almost 10 months later, which jeopardises my chances of her entertaining special requests next time. Considering she will be coming over in a few months, and I already have a list as long as my arm, shhhhhhh. Lol.
I didn’t discover Tapioca until my teenage years and I loved it as an alternative to standard cereals. I don’t like milk you see, so cereals don’t have much appeal to me, much to my mother’s chagrin. I was a difficult child to feed, thank goodness she taught me early enough, how to cook for myself. Tapioca is cooked with coconut milk, and it is optional to add dairy milk, which is why I loved it, even though it tastes better with milk. Some people will be nodding their heads as they read this and the words condensed milk and/or evaporated milk will be floating through their minds. Yup, yup. I have outgrown my distaste for milk a little bit, so I made this with milk towards the end.
Tapioca is a great choice for breakfast. In many parts of the world, it is eaten as pudding for dessert. Which is where I got the inspiration from, to make Tapioca extra special. Aanu our resident baker was another inspiration, as she always stresses the need for quality ingredients especially spices in their original form. So, I took a leaf from her book, ditched the mass-produced spices and I was very pleased with the results. I hope I have awoken within you fond memories of home for those who live abroad, and for those who are at home, you guys can also share in the nostalgia. I have taken that nostalgia and I am re-creating Tapioca extra extra special with a vanilla pod and a cinnamon stick. If you have never introduced your children to Tapioca, I think you should, so that they create their own fond memories. Food and meal times are one of the most joyous memories of family. No matter how old you get or where in the world you live, those memories will always be able to tug at your heartstrings.
This is so good, I took it to work to be tasted by my colleagues who have told me countless times whilst looking through the blog, that I am in the wrong profession. Yesterday I was told to resign. All in good time. Lol………
You will need
1 cup of raw Tapioca granules
400ml coconut milk – 1 cup is 250ml so you will need 1 3/4 cups
1/2 cup of milk – i used semi skimmed milk
1 teaspoon grated coconut
1 vanilla pod – substitute with 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence or extract, preferably the extract as it tastes more natural
1 cinnamon stick – substitute with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
For pictures of the ingredients, please click on the Ingredientspaedia page HERE and scroll down
1. Soak the tapioca granules in water just enough to cover it. Let it soak until the granules are soft and plump
2. Transfer the tapioca into a pot or deep saucepan and add the coconut milk. Slice the vanilla pod across its entire length and scrape out the seeds with the tip of the knife. Also add the entire vanilla pod to the pot, which you will take out at the end. Leave the pot to boil for at least 10 minutes on low heat
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: Coconut milk is notorious for causing starchy ingredients to burn when cooked with it. This is because it has a much higher density that water, and it also becomes creamier with heat, which makes the starchy contents stick together and of course, burn. This tip will become more apparent when I put up my coconut rice post. So, remember to lower the heat.
3. The tapioca should be thick and creamy, with a translucent characteristic to it and black flecks from the vanilla pod. Depending on how big the raw granules are, you may end up with a lumpy tapioca or a smooth tapioca. The bigger the granules, the more the lumps. Add the cinnamon stick and stir.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: If you like the taste of cinnamon, leave it in to the end otherwise, keep it in for a few minutes to get a hint of the flavour, and take it out, which I did.
4. For many people, cooking ends here and it is served topped with milk and sugar. I add both to the pot to allow the milk and sugar receive some heat to caramelise the sugar with the milk, thereby enhancing the taste.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: Heating milk changes the flavour slightly which makes it taste better and more tolerable if you are not a fan of milk. Add a few drops of vanilla to the pot, and voila – transformation. Heated milk and vanilla, yum, yum. A few years ago, I got a call from someone who was babysitting and lamenting about a toddler not eating his cereal. It kinda made me smile, cos it reminded me of me. I advised that the milk be heated up and added to the cereal. The next call I got was, you are a genius. He finished it without a single peep. Lol. His mum got back and was shocked to hear he finished the bowl. If your child/children are giving you grief during breakfast, simply heat the milk. I wish my mum knew that. Lol.
……………and that’s your Tapioca, ready to be served. You can sprinkle over a teaspoon of grated coconut for some crunch
Someone just asked “where do I buy Tapioca from outside Nigeria”.
My Answer – Google to the rescue. Type in – buy tapioca pearls. There are so many stores that sell it including ebay. I will go out on a limb and say check Asian stores, or speciality baking goods store.
Another question “where can I buy vanilla pods and cinnamon sticks”
My Answer – These two spices in their original form can be found in supermarkets or baking goods stores. Check the spices aisle. If it is a big store, you will definitely find it. For my readers who live in Nigeria, I am copying a response from Chef Fregz “You can get vanilla pods from L’epicerie and La Pointe, Victoria Island in Lagos retails for between 990 to 1500 for two sticks.” OUCH!!!. If you know of another source, please share it with everyone by dropping a comment. Thanks