Tapioca pearls are used in recipes such as tapioca pudding, tapioca dumplings, tapioca curry and the spicy Indian breakfast dish sabudana khichdi. Although tapioca comes from the root of the cassava, native to Brazil, it is now a popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines, such as Indian, Thai and Chinese.
Tapioca pearls are also a key component of the 20th-century Taiwanese drink, boba tea, also known as bubble tea, which can be served hot or cold. The tea may contain milk and flavorings along with tea and the chewy tapioca balls or pearls. The pearls can be sucked from the tea through a large straw.
Tapioca, a starch extracted from cassava root, is often used as a thickening agent. The starch is run through a sieve to compress it into the balls known as tapioca pearls.