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 Manioc, Cassava, Yucca

Featured Ingredient - Brazil 


Go to:-  Brazil Main Page  |  Brazilian Speciality Dish   |  Cooking by Country Main Page



More popularly known as Cassava, Manioc  belongs to the plant family Euphorbiaceae. It is a staple food in Brazil, South America  (where it is sometimes called Yucca) and is also widely used in the West Indies as well as in Africa.


Native to Brazil and Paraguay,  Manioc was transported by Europeans to the West Indies, mainly as slave provisions,  and to Africa in the sixteenth Century. Two varieties of the Manioc are widely used for culinary purposes: the sweet type (which is the type you are most likely to come across in shops outside of where they are grown)  and the bitter  poisonous type which must never be eaten raw  due to the toxic concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides however, the poisons are destroyed by soaking in water and the subsequent heat in the cooking process. It's amazing  that the native Indians determined these tubers were edible at all.



The plant grows in a bushy form, up to 2.4 m (8 ft) tall, with greenish- yellow flowers. The roots are very starchy and grow up to 8 cm (3 in) thick and 91 cm (36 in) long. The fresh roots can be cooked much like potatoes, once peeled they can be boiled, baked or fried. The young leaves can also be cooked in the same way as  spinach,  although  great care must be taken to get rid of the  toxic compounds in the leaves during the cooking process. 



Another popular way of consuming manioc is to process it into meal and flour. No Brazilian meal is complete without Farofa, which is  seasoned manioc meal. Brazilians use it as a condiment and sprinkle it over everything from soup to vegetables,  much like the Italians use Parmesan cheese. 



Other common forms of processed manioc root include  Tapioca (mostly used in puddings or as a thickening agent), Farinha de mandioca (toasted flour) and  Paçoca or Tapioca Flour (the meal further processed into a finer flour often used as a suitable gluten free ingredient in breads and baked goods).



You will find many recipes using Manioc and it's derivatives both on the main Brazil Cooking by Country page and throughout the site. To find Tapioca recipes, just use the Search Form.


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