Cassava, the Versatile Tuber

January – February is the most rainy period in Jakarta and irregular downpours can be expected at any time, particularly during  monsoon.  

The other day during a heavy rain, I was craving for my childhood favorite snack namely Sawut (Steamed Grated Cassava With Sugar), one of Javanese traditional cassava snacks. My mom used to cook me this cassava snack when I was a kid to keep me from catching cold during rainy season.

Why cassava? What is so special about it?

Cassava (Manihot esculenta ) originated in the Americas. The plant grows tall, sometimes reaching 15 feet, with leaves varying in shape and size. The edible parts are the tuberous root and leaves. The tuber (root) is somewhat dark brown in color and grows up to 2 feet long.

Around the world, cassava is a vital staple for about 500 million people. Cassava’s starchy roots produce more food energy per unit of land than any other staple crop. Its leaves, commonly eaten as a vegetable in parts of Asia and Africa, provide vitamins and protein. Nutritionally, the cassava is comparable to potatoes, except that it has twice the fiber content and a higher level of potassium.

During the Nigerian civil war, Flora Nwapa, a Nigerian novelist and poet wrote in praise of cassava:

We thank the almighty God
For giving us cassava
We hail thee cassava
The great cassava

You grow in poor soils
You grow in rich soils
You grow in gardens
You grow in farms

You are easy to grow
Children can plant you
Women can plant you
Everybody can plant you

We must sing for you
Great cassava, we must sing
We must not forget
Thee, the great one

In Indonesia, cassava is used in a variety of food products, the same way potatoes are used in the Western countries. They can be used as vegetables in dishes, grated to make pancakes, dried and ground into tapioca flour, or sliced and made into snack chips

To cook cassava, just wash and peel, then cook whole in savory dishes such as curry. You can also cut the cassava into chunks, boil them and then dip in freshly grated coconut and sugar or honey.

The young root can be grated, mixed with sugar, coconut milk and baked or steamed to make Indonesian snack.

One of the famous cassava recipes is cassava cake.

Cassava cake or Getuk Lindri is ground cassava with grated coconut and it’s really one of the old and authentic Indonesian desserts.

You can mostly find them in the villages or in the market. The daily morning market usually sold original Indonesian desserts and cakes. They are usually cheaper than the big desserts shop and they are really delicious.

The Cassava Cake Recipe

Cooking time: 1/2 hour

For 20 pieces


  • 1 kilogram grated cassava (you can use frozen cassava from the supermarket, it’s usually easy to find)
  • 1/2 kilogram dried grated coconut, pours some water and salt over it and steamed it to get moist grated coconut.
  • 250 gram sugar
  • 150 cc water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • Food coloring
  • Salt


  • Cook sugar with water, add some vanilla sugar. Let it cooked.
  • Mix the grated cassava with 1/4 kilogram grated coconut, and add the mixture sugar with water, mix until well.
  • Divide the dough into 3 parts or more, add different colors as much as you want.

Then use pasta machine to get the spaghetti form like the picture above then cut into 5 inch length.

Serve with moist grated coconut that you have already seasoned with some salt.

Other recipes of Cassava:

Steamed Cassava (Singkong Rebus)

  • 500 gram cassava, peeled, washed and cut into chunks of 5 cm length
  • steam cassava in a steamer until tender
  • serve warm with salt or sugar


You can also fry the steamed cassava if you like

Fried Cassava (Singkong goreng)


Or you can make my favorite cassava snack:

Sawut (Steamed Grated Cassava with Sugar)


  • 500grams of Cassava ~ peel and wash until clean then grated
  • 100 grams of white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 200 gram coconut meat ~ grated well

Cooking steps:

  • Mix grated cassava with salt
  • Prepare steamer then put in the cassava. Steam for about half of hour.
  • Put the cooked cassava in a plate; garnish with grated coconut and sugar



Discover; Jakarta Post (article by Amy Beh):



2 responses to “Cassava, the Versatile Tuber

  1. this looks delicious!! my mum will be shocked to know that something sweet can be made with cassava. for us cassava is a savoury meal, just boiled and had with chilli paste (like sambol, red chillies, and shallots, and coconut oil) or made into a curry with coconut cumin paste and had with fish. there’s a steamed version too. but never had it sweet. will definitely try!

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog again. Yeah, for us it’s so common that we made cassava into something sweet. On the other hand, I am amaze that you mix cassave with chili paste – hey I have to try it out too. Will visit your blog soon.

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