Tapiocas are very popular all over northeastern Brazil and also in Rio de Janeiro, where you can buy them from street carts (in Ipanema, for example). Tapiocas are an art to be mastered and you also need to have the right kind of manioc starch (polvilho azedo). So, we aren’t posting a recipe per se and recommend that you travel to Rio or João Pessoa or Maceió in the state of Alagoas where these pictures were taken…Meanwhile, you can enjoy the photographs, if nothing else. Tapiocas may be made almost as thin as a crêpe or thicker; you just spread a handful of the starch with your hand over a hot, preferably non-stick surface (or a slightly greased one), as she is doing on the photos above. Basically, it toasts on the bottom as you spread the filling or fillings on the top, then you fold it like an omelette.

Much like French crêpes, tapiocas can be prepared with an infinite variety of fillings. Here are a few: grated coconut and doce de leite condensado, grated coconut and queijo de coalho, carne seca and queijo de coalho, cheese and goiabada, bananas, you name it.


Tapioca pudding

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) small-grain Tapioca
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 lightly beaten egg whites
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 220 ml (1 cup) icing sugar

Tapioca pudding (eggless version)

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) small-grain Tapioca
  • 1 liter (4 cups) milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. orange flower water (optional)


Tapioca Pudding

  • put the milk, salt, granulated sugar and vanilla into a saucepan; bring to the boiling point;
  • sprinkle in the tapioca and cook gently for 10 minutes; add the egg yolks and stir over low heat until thickened;
  • beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with the icing sugar;
  • fold the milk-egg yolk mixture into the egg whites;
  • pour into a bowl or individual dishes; refrigerate before serving.

Tapioca Pudding (without eggs)

  • The method is the same, omitting the eggs.
  • Serve with a fruit or custard sauce, or jam.
Tagged: Stuart