My traditional Afghan cuisine is delicious, but it calls for rice and bread for almost every dish – even dessert! In an effort to minimize my consumption of grains and gluten, I decided to put a new twist on one of my favorite deserts – a creamy rice pudding called shir berenj.
Its core ingredients, rice, sugar, and milk, promote inflammation, so I went the plant-based route. Tapioca peals, sourced from root vegetable cassava, provides the texture, maple syrup the sweetness, and coconut milk the creaminess.
Cassava is a staple food in Africa and Latin America. It has a much lower glycemic index than other starches such as rice and potatoes, making it effective at stabilizing blood sugar. Tapioca doesn’t have the same nutrient density as whole cassava, but it still offers a good source of iron and nominal folate to promote cardiovascular and colon health.
Maple syrup is not just for pancakes! Healthier alternatives to cane sugar are easier to find than you think. Maple syrup is rich in antioxidant and minerals zinc and manganese. Zinc bolsters our immune systems and] manganese helps regulate blood sugar, metabolism, and nerve function.
All of the cooking for this recipe happens in a pressure cooker. You can certainly achieve the same consistency in a stovetop pan, but it will likely take twice as long and require more stirring.
Plantains are not used at all in Afghan cuisine, but they represent a personal touch (my husband has Puerto Rican heritage) that pairs remarkably well with rice pudding. Be sure to use ripened yellow plantains to easily caramelize and produce a honey sweetness that regular bananas lack.
Garnish the pudding with the caramelized plantains and coconut flakes for wonderfully sweet, and multicultural, treat!
I love showcasing my culture’s rich flavors in healthier ways!
Tapioca Pudding with Caramelized Plantains
- 2 Plantain (ripe)
- 2 cans Coconut Milk (full fat)
- 1 cup Water
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup Small Tapioca Pearls
- 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Coconut Flakes
- 1 tsp Cardamom
- In a pressure cooker, add the coconut milk, water, tapioca pearls, maple syrup (only add 1/3 so you can save the rest for the plantains) and vanilla extra. Pressure cook on high for 25 minutes.
- In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, add the coconut oil and let it heat up for about 1-2 minutes.
- Peel the plantains and slice into thin pieces. Add into the pan with coconut oil and cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove excess coconut oil and put the heat on low. Add in the remaining maple syrup, cinnamon, and cardamom. Toss until all the flavors are mixed well with the plantains.
- Serve the tapioca pudding a dessert cups/bowls and top with plantains and coconut flakes. Enjoy!