Cassava (or ubi) 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. The leaves are high in protein, and in some part of Sumatra there is a famous dish made from the puree of the leaves cooked in coconut milk.


I always have this in Batak restaurant, or Padang restaurant. The way it is prepared in both cultures is almost the same with slightly different spices used. This dish is called daun ubi tumbuk, or cassava leaf puree cooked in coconut milk. Extremely 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.

At home, we prepared the leaves by grinding them using wooden mortar and pestle. They can also be chopped finely – the end result would be the same, although purists would definitely disapprove of it. Some added dried shrimp or anchovies for extra pungency. The vegetarian version would use pea eggplants, grinded together with the leaves. The leaves and spices are then cooked for a long time to soften them to a puree consistency

Daun ubi tumbuk - cassava leaf puree with coconut milk


Cassava Leaf Puree with Coconut Milk


100 gr cassava leaves
5 salam leaves
50 gr pea eggplants
3 (5 gr) red chili
5 (50 gr) shallots
1 (5 gr) clove garlic
3 (15 gr) candlenuts, toasted
1" fresh galangal, slightly flattened
1 stalk lemongrass, quartered, length-wise
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup coconut milk, diluted with 1 cup water


Grind chili, shallot, garlic, candlenut, ginger, coriander till the ingredients form a paste.
In a blender, mash up the leaves and eggplant slightly. Or chop them finely.
Heat oil in a wok and quickly stir fry the spice paste over low heat for 5 minutes.
Add lemongrass, salam leaves and galangal. Stir fry till the color of the paste turn brownish, 2 more minutes
Toss in the leaves and turn up the heat. Add the diluted coconut milk, cook for another 10 minutes. Do not boil it, just simmer
Season with salt and pinch of sugar
Remove the lemongrass, salam leaves, galangal from the pot. Serve warm with rice.

Cook’s note

I am quite certain that cassava leaves is not available in western countries (plenty of supply in African region though), so I read that some tried to use kale or spinach. For spinach, the cooking time should be halved since it is not as tough as cassava leaves.

Step by step shot

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8 Responses to “Cassava Leaf Puree with Coconut Milk”

  1. 1

    Christelle — May 6, 2009 @ 11:05 am

    Great post, Very informative, superb and well documented with the photos, I learned a lot there, thak you so much for sharing!

    Christelle’s last blog post..Malva Pudding

  2. 2

    Pepy — May 6, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

    This one is traditional dishes from my father’s tribe, tapanuli selatan. I used to have at home or whenever I went to my family in Medan. Of course with gulai ikan sale. ohhh yummyyyy

    Pepy’s last blog post..Matcha (Green Tea) Pudding

  3. 3

    noobcook — May 7, 2009 @ 1:17 am

    looks unique to me and so delicious. I love the wooden mortar and pestle as well, so pretty. so far the more common m&p sold here are the stone types.

  4. 4

    Floria — January 24, 2010 @ 4:14 am

    I love the cassava leaves puree… now am drooling at what you posted here. Yummy… yummy. I cooked it the same way u do too.

  5. 5

    Ang — July 11, 2010 @ 1:54 am

    gosh… i found cassava leaves in the bottle!!! (not genie in the bottle lol). i will cook this food after they take off the cast. cant cook now, my forearm is broken, but at least i save the cassava leaves lol

    • Jun replied: — July 13th, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

      Really? Cassava leaves in bottle? I have never seen anything like that! Get well soon, Ang

  6. 6

    Lauren — May 15, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    Found some cassava leaves at an admittedly fantastic California farmers market.

    Not sure why, but I had to cook them much longer than 10 minutes to get them to soften. Probably something different about the leaves we have here. Either way, great recipe!

    I’m thinking of getting another couple bunches of cassava leaves, boiling them in scant water, and freezing so I can make this recipe again once eggplants come into season and I can get something like pea eggplants.

  7. 7

    Mahafan — August 30, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

    Also in Comoro Islands. A staple eaten with rice. Anywhere else????

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