Leave Not Cassava Leaves

Cassava  is one of the most important source of carbohydrates in Indonesian diet. In some remote part of the region, it is used as staple food, substituting rice.

In my country, the young cassava leaves are also eaten, cooked in different ways in different regional cuisines such as gulai daun singkong (cassava leaves in spicy coconut milk), boiled with spices in urap (Javanese salad), and as the main ingredient in buntil  (Javanese vegetable rolls).

Cassava leaves are a good source of protein if supplemented with the amino acid methionine despite containing cyanide. They provide high amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Half a cup of cooked cassava leaves would provide half of the daily Vitamin A needs of a young child. Vitamin A is needed for proper growth, healthy eyes and protection from disease. Cassava leaves also have a fair amount of dietary fiber.

Hence people should leave not cassava leaves but be encouraged to use this valuable food whenever it is available ……

My favorite cassava leaves is the famous dish commonly found in Padang restaurant called Gulai Daun Singkong or Cassava Leaves in Spicy Coconut Milk.

This dish is so delicious to be eaten with steamed rice. The velvety texture of the leaves marries well with the thick coconut milk. The dish is really rich in flavor – that’s why don

Last week-end I had the opportunity to cook this dish and followed the recipe of William W. Wongso which I found in one of Periplus Mini Cookbooks ‘Spicy Padang Cooking’.

To cook cassava leaves, a two-step boiling process is the only safe way. In the first step, you remove cyanogenic glucosides (toxin) from the leaves, and in the second step you cook the leaves until tender. The following is the step by step of boiling cassava leaves:

  • Step 1:  wash the cassava leaves under cold running water and set in a colander to drain.
  • Step 2: stack 10 to 15 leaves at a time and roll them lengthwise into a cigar shape. Slice the roll into 2cm-wide pieces.
  • Step 3 : Add the chopped leaves and enough water to cover the leaves by 1 inch to a saucepan.
  • Step 4: turn your stove burner to high, bring the water to a full boil and cook the leaves for five to 10 minutes.
  • Step 5: empty the leaves into a colander to drain the cooking water.
  • Step 6: return the leaves to the saucepan and add enough fresh water to cover the partially cooked leaves.
  • Step 7: bring the water back to a full boil, then cover the pan and reduce the burner heat to medium. Cook the leaves just below the boiling point until they are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

And this the recipe of Cassava Leaves in Spicy Coconut Milk:


  • 500 ml beef stock or 1 beef stock cube in 500 ml water
  • 100 gram rump or topside steak, very thinly sliced
  • 1 turmeric leaf
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thick bottom part only, outer layers discarded, inner part bruised
  • 200 gram young cassava leaves
  • 375 ml thick coconut milk

Ingredients for Spice Paste

  • 4 red chilies, sliced
  • 4 shallots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cm galangal root, peeled, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cm ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cm turmeric, peeled and sliced
  • salt to taste

How to make:

  • To make the spice paste, grind all ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar or blender, adding a little of the beef stock to keep the paste turning, set aside.
  • Heat the beef stock in a saucepan over high heat
  • Add the beef, turmeric leaf, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and asam.
  • Stir in the spice paste and bring to a boil
  • Add the cassava leaves and mix well.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Stir in the coconut milk and simmer until the sauce is thickened around 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve warm with rice

This is the look of my Cassava Leaves in Spicy Coconut Milk and I was so happy my family loved it.

Picture by Josua Alessandro @ http://www.josuaalessandro.com


  • Wikipedia
  • Periplus Mini Cookbook “Spicy Padang Cooking”by William W. Wongso and Hayatinufus A.L Tobing
  • http://www.livestrong.com

One response to “Leave Not Cassava Leaves

  1. Pingback: Cassava | boboqflensburg

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