I love the subtle cardamom flavor and crunch of the cashews in this tapioca pudding. I ended up cooking the tapioca longer than the recipe suggested and the pudding became too firm when chilled. I would either serve the pudding freshly cooked and warm or add more milk before chilling. Still, it’s a lovely dish that would work perfectly with a non-Indian dinner.
Based on the recipe Tapioca Payasam in Healthy South Indian Cooking by Alamelu Vairavan and Patricia Marquardt.
¼ cup raw whole cashew nuts
1 T butter, used ½ T at a time
½ cup tapioca, small pearl, not instant
3 cups milk, 2% or whole
¼ t cardamom powder
4 to 6 saffron threads
1/8 t salt
½ cup sugar, makes a lightly sweet pudding, add more if desired
¼ cup raisins, soaked 15 minutes in hot water and drained
In a small skillet over medium heat melt ½ T butter and sauté the cashews until thoroughly cooked and lightly brown, about 5-7 minutes.
In a 2-3 quart sauce pan melt the remaining ½ T of butter over a medium flame. Add the tapioca and stir fry for a few minutes until all the pearls are coated and slightly toasted.
Reduce heat to medium low. Slowly add the milk, one cup at a time, stirring constantly. This is very much like make a French béchamel sauce. Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until tapioca is cooked. It will still have a whitish center. I cooked it for about 30 minutes or so but the original recipe suggested 15 minutes.
Add the cardamom powder, saffron, salt and sugar and stir to combine. Add milk to adjust thickness of the pudding.
Place into serving dishes (I used wide-mouthed champagne flutes) and garnish with cashews and raisins as desired.
The desert may be chilled, in which case it will thicken, or can be served warm.