Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the tropical cassava plant, also known as manioc.The starch has to be detoxified before the tapioca can be sold commercially as some fresh manioc roots contain a toxic substance that is destroyed by a heat process. Tapioca is sold either as granules or flakes; both can be hard to find but most good health food stores and larger supermarkets stock either one or the other.
Tapioca is a useful, easily digestible starch. Flaked, it has similar thickening properties to cornflour and arrowroot, so is good for thickening sauces. The grains are best used like rice or barley to bulk out soups and stews.
Many people associate the grains with a rather bland milk pudding, but tapioca pudding is anything but land when the milk is flavored with cinnamon and enriched with cream or coconut milk.
** Asian Recipes