Once Upon a time there was a beautiful little Tupi* Indian girl named Mani.   She was different from all other girls from the Tribe because her skin was very white, her hair was silver and it was believed that her father was a deity from the moon that feel in love by her beautiful mother, the daughter of the Cacique*.

Mani was adored as a Goddess by the Tribe.   One day she got sick – stopped eating, drinking, talking… She just stood still in her hammock.  Despite all Pajé* efforts Mani died. She was buried inside her Oca* and her mother cried many tears over her grave.

After just a few days a plant grew from where Mani was buried and her mother decided to dig the place as they believed it was Mani’s soul leaving this earth.    She was surprise to find out the body was not there, instead there was a root that once cut was as white as Mani’s skin – a gift from the Gods.   The root was named Manioca (Mani + Oca*).   The Tupis planted the Manioca and it became their most important aliment.

Manioca, Mandioca or also known as cassava, manioc and yucca is indeed, as the Brazilian legend teach us, a gift from the Gods; this starchy, tuberous South American root is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the world, major source of food in Latin America and Africa.

Unfortunately Cassava is not very well known in developed countries, at least not in its natural form.   This versatile Vegetable can be prepared in several ways and there are many products derived from it.   You probably might know some of them:

  • Cassava Starch or Tapioca Starch:   a good gluten free alternative to thicken sauces, gravies, pie fillings, and puddings.    It is also used in dishes like Brazilian Cheese Bread and Bijou.
  • Sour Cassava Starch:   Is the oxidized version of the Tapioca Starch and is used for Cheese Breads and other Brazilian dishes.  It makes the dough “rise” and gives a sour taste to the dishes.
  • Tapioca Flour: Used in cakes, biscuits, bread.
  • Tapioca Pearls  (Sagu) : Used in sweet and savoury dishes around South America and Asia.
  • Cassava Flour: Dried grounded cassava used for lots of Brazilian dishes;  Farofa (Brazilian couscous) and other traditional dishes.

I can quickly find a huge list of yummy uses for it:  cassava chips, cassava pure, cassava pure escondidinho (Brazilian version of the Sheppard Pie), Wine Sagu …   

I will be teaching you here how to use it and some of these recipes that for me taste like home and are very close to my heart.

Enjoy it!

* Tupi – Brazilian Native English Tribe /  Cacique – Chief of the Tribe / Pajé – Tribe Chaman, spiritual leader, doctor of the tribe / Oca – the houses of the Brazilian Indians

The Untamed Cook

Rachel Elich is a globetrotting, computer engineer, project manager, designer, untamed cook extraordinaire who backpacks around the world. Along the way on adventures, Rachel has adopted and incorporated international influences into all aspects of her creative work endeavours.

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