The Portuguese left India long back but they left some things of their origin in God’s own country down South, where they first set foot rounding the Cape.
The tapioca, a humble tuber root crop, stayed back to be a people’s favourite.
As it happens, when anything new is introduced, public used to view it suspiciously. (An analogy is possible with Maharashtra’s popular ‘Pav’).
But after a famine or some such calamity, the ruler of the then Travancore State Sri Moolan Thirunal Maharaja, ordered to cultivate it rampantly as it’s harvesting takes much less time, than the staple rice, owing to its cheapness. Monetarily it became affordable to the lowest of low in the society.
Kerala is largely coastal. Many regional varieties of cuisine developed combining with fish preparations. So the foreigner became more native than the natives themselves. The mashed tapioca with fish curry still reigns as the staple & balanced diet for the poorer sections of the society, while it is served as delicacy in the more affluent sections. It could be a snack, it could be an accompaniment Or it could be a meal by itself. Owing to it’s starchy nature it gives sateity in a comparitavely less quantity.
A WORD OF CAUTION : While the tapioca – fish combination is an excellent, cheap, balanced food; having it exclusively as meal in bigger quantities for long time has a chance of giving rise to Diabetes Mellitus (Type II).