Cassava or Yuca root , called as ‘Kappa’ in Malayalam, is widely grown in southern India especially in Kerala and thereby is a staple in Kerala cuisine. Tapioca/Cassava is common in many other cuisines like South American and South Asian. For folks who get confused between tapioca and Cassava, they both essentially refer to the same root vegetable, however, Cassava or Yuca is the vegetable in its natural form where as tapioca is referred to the products made from cassava such a tapioca starch or tapioca pearls. In India, though only the word tapioca is used for all the products. So less confusion there 🙂
For those who are not familiar with this root, it tastes a little bit like potato – starchy and soft texture but does have a typical flavor that is different from a potato. Here’s a pic of this vegetable for folks who have never seen it before so that next time you see it in your grocers, you will feel tempted to pick it up!
In Kerala, Kappa is served at breakfast or as a main course at lunch or dinner – pretty much anytime 🙂 Generally for a main meal, it is paired with either fish curry or beef curry. But could also be served up with a simple fiery onion/red chili chutney which is an irresistible combination anytime of the day!
We usually get good cassava from our Asian supermarket. Chopping it can be a challenge if you do not follow the right technique. It’s skin is very hard but if you just hit it with a large knife just as a butcher would while butchering meat, it easily breaks apart. and then you can peel the outer covering using the knife and then further cut it into pieces. In kerala, generally these are cut as large chunks and steamed. Of course in my house, the hubby had the privilege of chopping it. Lucky me 🙂
And then the onion chutney! This one is again one of those pounding ones! You need to pull out your mortar and pestle for this one.