1 1/2 lb tapioca
1 tsp turmeric, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
4 Tbs oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 small red onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red chile powder
6-8 curry leaves
3/4 cup coconut, grated1 Tbs lemon juice
1. Peel the tapioca then slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch pieces. Cut each slice into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a medium sauce pan, cover them with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Boil until just tender, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the tapioca from the pan and let cool. Set aside.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the urad dal, red chile powder, remaining turmeric, curry leaves, garlic and onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Fry until the onion turns brown. Mix in the coconut and fry for 1 minute then add the tapioca, remaining salt and 1/3 cup of water. Fry well for 10 minutes until the tapioca is tender and starts to brown. Add more salt if desired.
3. Finally stir in the lemon juice and the remaining oil.
Tapioca is a root from the cassava plant that was brought to India by the Portuguese and has become a staple in Indian cuisine. Tapioca fulfills a role similar to that of potatoes as a starch. Since tapioca doesn’t have much flavor in its own right, it is perfect to use in Indian recipes. When cooked with an array of savory spices, it becomes very tasty. I like to serve Tapioca Masala with a chicken or beef curry or even as the main dish for an easy lunch.