Taro, potatoes and yams are excellent substitutes for manioc. Manioc, which is also called cassava or yucca, is a staple of many South American, African and Asian cuisines. Its mild flavor makes it popular in both sweet and savory dishes. In recipes that call for manioc starch, the closest substitute is tapioca flour, which comes from manioc roots.
Manioc has dense, starchy flesh that remains firm in pan- and deep-fried dishes. Manioc fries are similar to French fries and are extremely popular in South America. White potatoes are an excellent substitute for sliced, fried manioc recipes. Yams are also well-suited for frying, although their flavor is much stronger than that of maniocs.
According to the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products, the entire manioc plant is edible, but the leaves and roots are toxic unless thoroughly cooked. Manioc is classified as sweet or bitter, a reference to the proportion of toxins a specimen contains. Raw sweet manioc contains tiny amounts of toxic cyanide. However, the bitter variety contains lethal levels of cyanide. Both varieties are safe to eat after they have been thoroughly boiled, baked or fried.
The protein-rich leaves appear in many recipes and are often stuffed like Greek grape leaves. In Africa, a paste of ground, boiled manioc leaves is an important ingredient in meat and fish stews.