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.
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.