Reluctant to admit - it’s time for the summer farewell. Days are getting shorter, rain drenches the starving soil to fullness, and morning breeze calls for longer sleeves. After an expansive summer, filled with travelings, play, gatherings, and leisure, late summer (or rainy season according to Vedic calendar) is the time for reassessing our inner worlds. After the summer expansion, here comes the contraction, and we naturally drift inward.
Personally, I tend to struggle a lot during this season. After a warm summer (better to say - boiling hot Mediterranean summer), the coldness and dampness of the changing season challenges my digestion and my skin to the max. My bronze skin starts to rapidly dry out, and my digestion tends to slow down. Many will complain of a more pronounced hair loss, ulcers, heartburn and intestine issues.
Bringing some Ayurvedic wisdom into everyday cooking, these days have become more enjoyable and filled with sweet, soothing and comforting flavours. One of the breakfast meals I’ve prepared several times last couple of weeks is the Tapioca pudding with the jam prepared from our own Croatian figs. Soft and creamy, this quick dish soothes digestion yet mildly inhibiting Agni - the digestive power.
Tapioca is a naturally gluten-free starch extracted from the cassava root, a tuber native to South America. According to Ayurveda, it calms the excess heat accumulated during summer (Pitta), and sets off the heaviness and dampness of the changing season (Kapha). It is very easy to digest and is often recommended for people with delicate digestion, during recovery, and on fasting days (Vata). Prepared as a creamy dairy-free pudding, with the addition of fresh fig and ginger jam, everyone will enjoy the health benefits of tapioca pudding.
And the fig jam…oh my… after I feasted on fresh figs each morning straight from the tree in our family garden, I brought a good batch into our mountain home to prepare the winter preserve. I aways experiment - making chutneys, jams, or simply drying them. Yet fresh fig jam remains one of my favourites…quick, simple, and oh.. so delicious. The summer farewell feels less bitter with figs sweetness.
Nowadays, tapioca can be found in the dehydrated form - as white flour, flakes, or pearls. Almost all health food stores, as well as oriental shops will carry the tapioca pearls and with a very affordable price. Make sure to use the pearls only for this recipe. And in case you don’t have any fresh figs, feel free to use the dried ones. Dry apricots will work just as good.
Tapioca saffron pudding
with fresh fig jam
Makes 2 breakfast servings or 4 dessert servings
- 1/3 cup tapioca pearls*
- 2 cups plant based milk, like sprouted almond milk or any other you prefer
- 4-5 saffron threads
- 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1 can coconut milk - you need the thick, creamy, canned version,
- 2 tablespoons rice syrup, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, cornstarch or kudzu powder can be used instead
- 2 tablespoons cold plant based milk
In a medium saucepan combine the tapioca pearls, plant based milk and saffron. Let soak for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator, but not longer than 12 hours.
When ready to cook, whisk in the coconut milk, rice syrup, and salt, then bring the mixture to a boil. Over medium heat, let the mixture simmer for another 15 or 20 minutes, or until the tapioca pearls become translucent. During this whole time, keep stirring frequently to avoid the pearls clumping together or sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
At the very end, in a small bowl combine the arrowroot starch with cold milk or water. Add the arrowroot starch mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly until well combined. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens and is just about to come to a boil, then remove from heat. Spoon into serving bowls and let the pudding cool for at least 10-15 minutes. Serve with a generous dollop of fresh fig jam.
The pudding can also be refrigerated and warmed up using the bain-marie method, or directly on the stove and adding a few tablespoons of milk to make a delicious porridge.
Fresh Fig Jam
- 2 cups fresh figs**
- Half an orange - juice and the zest
- 2 thin ginger slices
Cut the figs into quarters, or smaller if you prefer. In a small saucepan, mix the figs with orange juice and ginger slices, and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the figs partially brake apart, but there are still some visible chunks left. Turn the heat off and remove ginger slices if you’re not a big fan. As I love ginger, and my body responds so well to it, I like to chop the slices very finely so I won’t remove it. But I’ve found that most people won’t share the same preference, so you might want to stick to the slices which you can easily remove. If you have leftovers, keep refrigerated and consume within 3-4 days.
* Make sure to use the tapioca pearls and not other forms of tapioca in this recipe.
**You can substitute fresh figs with dried ones. In that case, soak them in orange juice until soft and easy to be sliced, then proceed with the recipe.
Vata - pacifying
Pitta - pacifying
Kapha -pacifying, use rice milk as the base and use fig jam sparingly