- Trisha George
While most people know about Kerala's famous banana chips, not many have heard of its country cousin - tapioca chips. Tapioca, or 'kappa' (in Malayalam; pronounced 'cup-pa') is also called 'cassava'. The tapioca plant is popularly grown in the tropics for its edible, tuberous root. Tapioca chips are usually deep-fried and then seasoned with spicy red chilli powder.
|Image taken from this video explaining how to make the chips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v16Kz5PlsM|
Although the chips are rightly grouped as junk food, there are many healthy ways of eating tapioca. It's prepared as a vegetable on its own, cooked with rice, and with fish curry. Sometimes it forms the whole meal and sometimes an appetizer. It isn't uncommon to just eat boiled kappa plain either.
|Kappa, with a chicken dish, and white 'patri', a thin and soft roti-like pancake made of rice|
If the starchy tuber is too bland, one can dip it in any available gravy. For those of us, who don't have access to Mallu cooks and cooking skills, mass produced chips are the best way to get a taste of this vegetable. Once considered to be a poor man's meal, as a substitute for rice, its position has risen along with demand. However, production in Kerala is still dwindling. The state's high labour wage rate, combined with inevitable rodent attacks do not make this a profitable crop. Let's hope tourist interest comes as aid to the Tapioca plant!