My favorite place on all of Maui is Kula. Kula is nestled up on the western slope of Haleakala. One of my favorite sights is looking up at Kula from further down the volcano; there is this breathtaking light and dark contrast up on the hillside, created by a mix of the sun, clear blue sky and the clouds that hover above and around the peak of the volcano. You see this bright, beautiful patches of bright green meadows intertwined with dark patches of forest, all illuminated against the grey and blue sky created by the clouds. It’s difficult to describe, but just…lovely.
Kula district spans from Ulupalakua to Makawao, where one of my friends lives. When I went to visit her this last time around, we ate a delicious dinner, had some wine and then we hit up the Rodeo General Store on Baldwin Ave. I have been to the Rodeo General Store before, but apparently I missed one of its greatest offerings, vegan coconut-lilikoi tapioca. My friend tells me that they only have it sporadically, so it’s a rare treat. We lucked out and both picked up a little container of it. My friend kept telling me how yummy it was and she wasn’t kidding. It was lightly sweet, with perfectly textured tapioca. The coconut milk made it just slightly rich and the lilikoi just sends it over the edge of deliciousness. AND it’s vegan. Such a win.
Lucky for me lilikoi is in season now and grows throughout southern California. We typically only get the purple peel kind, but I have seen some yellow and green this year too. I also happened to find a fabulous deal with the helpful tip of a local friend who knows I love the stuff. I bought a large amount and thought I should give this pudding a try. I wrote down all of the ingredients and came up with something I think is very similar.
Coconut Lilikoi Tapioca
1/3 cup of tapioca pearls (I used Bob’s Redmill brand)
1 ¼ cup of canned coconut milk
1/2 cup of cashew milk or almond milk (I used So Delicious)
1/3 cup of sugar
2 1/2 tbsp of lilikoi (passionfruit) juice
½ tsp tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp of agave
½ tsp of sea salt (preferably Hawaiian)
Soak tapioca pearls in coconut milk for 15-20 minutes in a medium sized saucepan. Simmer the pearls over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add cashew milk, sugar, agave, vanilla, and sea salt. Turn up the heat a bit and bring everything to a boil. Remove from heat and mix in the lilikoi juice. Pour into individual ramekins or cocottes and allow it to come to room temperature. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight and then serve.