Coconut Tapioca Pudding



“A Menu of Memories”

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I was 20 when I had a similar dessert in Thailand. And it was so special because I was traveling with a tight budget and dessert was not a necessity when the ability to travel itself was considered the ultimate treat. And the little tiny pearls had been mastered, of course, and I was awe of this delightful dish. The dessert put me to sleep while on a bus back to Bangkok and I unknowingly drooled all over an irritated stranger while in my dessert coma. Sorry stranger on the bus in Thailand.

This pudding can be a tricky one to please with. And I’ve gone through several variations over the years. This recipe though, is my favorite. It is inspired by a recipe I found on for Thai Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Cayenne Spiced Mango. Because the pearls are infused with herbs first and then cooked into a milk mixture. You have to use the right ingredients. I’ve learned that while fiddling with it. I’ve made it a gummy mess and I’ve also made it just right. When making this for a seven course meal, I suggest you make it just right. Warning- you’re best to make this the evening before a meal so that it all comes together nicely and is absolutely chilled when served which is how it tastes best.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Serves 4-6 as a dessert course in a seven course meal

For the Infusion

1 2 inch piece of Ginger

10 Thai Basil Leaves (Or plain basil if need be)

6 Cilantro Leaves

2 tsp Grated Lime Peel

1 tbsp Lemongrass-sliced

2 Cups water


Put everything in a blender or a food processor and then add it to a pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then turn the stove off and cover the pan. Steep the mixture for 20 minutes. Then strain the mixture into a pan, press and discard the solids.

Milk Mixture

2 Cups Whole Milk-The fat is necessary. Otherwise the tapioca tends to clump and the pudding doesn’t pull together. I’ve learned my lesson-if you must learn yours then try lower fat milks.

1/2 Sugar

1/2 Cup Tapioca Pearls-Not quick cooking. Otherwise you’ll end up with a big blob of tapioca.

1 Can of Coconut Milk-Not Lite. Once again, this uses the fat to pull the pudding together.


Add the whole milk and sugar to the herb infusion in the pan. Bring to a boil and then add the tapioca. Bring to a boil once more and then reduce the heat. Simmer the mixture for about half an hour. Keep stirring occasionally to make sure that the milk or the tapioca are not sticking to the pan. After the half hour has passed, add the can of coconut milk. Mix it well. It should be thick but not pudding like. Pour it into a bowl and then place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight. It needs this time to thicken up and for the flavors to come together.

And it just tastes perfect chilled. I served it with pieces of alfonso mango that were very ripe and like candy. But I have served it in the past with cold pieces of lychee and pineapple. Any form of tropical fruit really. I think it would be lovely with some almond pieces as well or rose petals. Oh my, now thats something I need to try in the future for another seven course meal.