A birthday deserves to be celebrated even if only in a simple manner. So this year, we marked our daughter’s birthday with this Vegan Tapioca Pearl Pudding. This may seem a very humble way to celebrate anything. If you like the slightly chewy texture of tapioca pearls, coconut, cardamom and mangoes, then this is a winner. It’s also a good dessert to make for a weekday dessert.
I progressed beyond very basic baking skills only when our daughter was about seven or eight. Until then, Akshaya’s birthday cakes were custom ordered from a local bakery that made excellent cakes. Then I started a tradition of baking her surprise birthday cakes at home. She was home for her birthday a couple of years after she went off to college.
My husband and I have continued marking her birthdays with a special dessert when she hasn’t been home to celebrate. This year she’s thousands of miles away at graduate school. It was her birthday last week, and a couple of days before that I fell ill with a viral fever. The monsoons are here and it’s once again viral fever season!
So that meant that I didn’t have much energy for anything. Still, I didn’t want to let the day go by without doing something to mark her birthday. Being stuck in bed, meant I had a lot of time to think about what to make. It obviously needed to be something that came together quickly.
We’re still keeping to a vegan diet for another month so I chose to make a Vegan Tapioca Pearl Pudding. We had some mangoes which were perfect to serve with the pudding. This is a really simple yet delicious dessert to make. You need tapioca pearls, thick coconut milk, a little sugar and some cardamom. That’s all it takes.
In India we make a less thicker pudding by cooking tapioca pearls in milk and sugar, called Kheer or Payasam/ Payasa. South East Asian style Sago Puddings tend to be thicker and set to solid consistency. This is easily achieved since sago or tapioca is a naturally thickening agent.
Tapioca pearls (sabudhana in Hindi and Jevarishi in Tamil) are made from the starch from the cassava root or manioc. Though often referred to as Sago, Tapioca pearls are not the same. Technically, Sago is similar but made from starch from the pith of a certain variety of palm tree.
Vegan Tapioca Pearl Pudding
- 1/2 cup uncooked tapioca pearls
- 2 3/4 cups thick coconut milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 to 5 cardamom pods crushed
- 2 to 3 ripe mangoes
- 1/3 cup toasted coconut for garnishing
- Rinse the tapioca pearls in water a couple of times and drain. Put the tapioca pearls, the coconut milk and sugar in a thick bottomed pot.
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Then turn down the heat, and let the mixture simmer gently for about 15 to 20 minutes till the mixture thickens and tapioca pearls are soft and translucent. Stir frequently while cooking, to prevent the mixture from clumping and becoming lumpy or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the cardamom and take off the heat. Let it cool a bit. Stir n and off to prevent a skin from forming. It will reach the consistency of a thick custard.
- Divide the mixture into four glasses or dessert bowls. Refrigerate till ready to serve. When ready to serve, top the pudding with fresh chopped mangoes and toasted coconut.