Difference Between Tapioca Pudding and Rice Pudding (with Table)

Puddings are considered to pertain to the suite of dessert as well as savory. They have a downy texture and are either boiled or baked. Furthermore, they have a thick-cottony or creamy consistency.

Rice and tapioca puddings are two commonly known varieties of puddings. The key difference between the two rests in the fact that a rice pudding has a cereal (rice) base whereas tapioca pudding has its chief ingredient derived from storage roots of the ‘cassava’ plant.

Owing to the fact that tapioca, which is in the form of a root starch, does not have its own taste, tapioca puddings contain external flavoring agents whereas rice itself imparts a natural taste and aroma to the rice pudding. Tapioca pudding contains eggs to bind the granules but rice pudding may or may not contain eggs.

The difference between tapioca and rice pudding lies in the cooking processes of the two puddings apart from their texture and appearance (tapioca pudding is more granular while rice pudding has a less coarse texture), and taste (tapioca pudding takes the flavor of the ingredients added to it externally while rice pudding has a natural cereal taste to it).

Comparison Table Between Tapioca Pudding and Rice Pudding

Parameter of ComparisonTapioca PuddingRice Pudding
OriginOriginated in ChinaUnknown (controversial)
Base of PuddingTapioca pearls derived from roots of the cassava plantCereal base made of rice grains (cereal base) from the rice plant
Texture and AppearanceGranular appearance due to starchy tapioca pearlsSmoother texture since rice becomes soft on boiling
AromaSmells like vanilla essence which is added to it since tapioca is odorlessIt has a nutty, natural fragrance of rice
TasteTaste depends on the ingredients added to the pudding since tapioca is tastelessIt has an elemental cereal taste due to rice
IngredientsMilk-soaked tapioca pearls, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla essence, sugar, saltBoiled rice, milk, sugar, nuts, dry fruits, cardamom, saffron

What is Tapioca Pudding?

Tapioca pudding is made from ‘tapioca’, which is a starch obtained from the tuberous roots of ‘cassava’ plant which is a tropical shrub indigenous to Brazil. The starch is converted to small, round, and chewy pearls that form the base of the tapioca pudding and serves as a thickening agent.

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Tapioca pudding originated in China and is one of the popular ‘Tong Shui’ (dessert) there. It is believed to have been derived from the Mayan culture that was taken to China in the 17th century.

Owing to the fact that tapioca granules do not have their own taste or fragrance, these properties are added artificially in the form of vanilla essence. To bind the tapioca pearls together, egg is an important ingredient, although in some recipes, adding eggs may be skipped.

The steps to make tapioca pudding are:

  1. Soak tapioca pearls in milk for long
  2. Boil pre-hydrated tapioca and sugar in cold coconut milk/cream until the pearls become translucent
  3. Stir continuously and beat in whipped egg yolks
  4. Add vanilla essence and remove from heat
  5. Fold the mixture in whipped egg whites
  6. Serve hot or chilled
image 9
Tapioca Pudding is quite granular due to tapioca pearls

What is Rice Pudding?

Rice pudding is made from rice grains. Rice has a lot of starch that proves to be the thickening agent for the pudding. When rice is boiled, it becomes soft and loses its texture which is the main reason why rice puddings usually have a smooth to lightly-coarse appearance.

The origin of rice pudding is quite controversial, although there are shreds of evidence that it dates back to 6000 BCE in India. Notwithstanding, its popularity grew all across the globe.

Rice puddings do not require artificial flavoring agents because rice itself has a very nutty taste and a natural aroma. The ingredients used in the preparation of rice pudding include boiled rice, milk, sugar, chopped nuts, cardamom, and saffron, although it is at the discretion of every individual. It may be boiled or baked.

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The recipe for rice pudding is:

  1. In a vessel over medium heat, combine milk, sugar, and cardamom, raisins, and chopped nuts. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. When milk is boiling, add boiled rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and rice is tender.
  3. Add saffron to impart color.
  4.  Serve hot or chilled.
image 10
Rice Pudding has a smooth to lightly-coarse texture

Main Differences Between Tapioca Pudding Rice Pudding

  1. Rice pudding is a cereal-based pudding whereas tapioca pudding is made from tapioca pearls derived from the storage roots of the cassava plant.
  2. Tapioca pudding requires more ingredients than rice pudding, like artificial flavor (like vanilla extract, since tapioca is tasteless and odorless) and eggs for binding its granules. At the same time, rice provides a natural flavor to the pudding.
  3. Tapioca pudding owes its origin to China but the origin of rice pudding is not known.
  4. Tapioca pudding has a highly granular texture due to the tapioca pearls. In contradiction to this, rice pudding is smooth to lightly coarse as the rice becomes soft, losing its form upon boiling.
  5. Before cooking the pudding, tapioca is soaked in milk whereas rice is boiled.
  6. Coconut milk/cream is preferred for tapioca pudding whereas there is no such preference for rice pudding.

Conclusion

Puddings have a thick consistency due to starch which is in the form of tapioca and rice in their respective puddings. They can be baked or boiled. Chopped nuts, saffron, cardamom, vanilla essence, etc. can be added to the pudding to enhance its flavor and appearance. Puddings have gained popularity all over the world and are enjoyed as an after-meal dessert or an in-course savory. What makes this lip-smacking delicacy so appealing are the key ingredients, be it rice or tapioca or some other core constituent.

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References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141813017313946
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20093220766
  3. https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/view/132059