Cassava Leaves Curry

Origin: West Sumatra


  • 500 g cassava leaves (use fiddlehead, curly kale or savoy as a substitutes )
  • 50 g anchovies, fried (if preffered)
  • 1 stem lemon grass, outer leaves discarded, crashed
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp soak in 2 tbsp water
  • 2 pc salam leaves or bay leaves
  • 2 cm fresh galangale, bruished
  • 3 pc kaffir lime leaves
  • 400 ml very thick coconut milk
  • 300 ml water
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • oil for frying

Spice for the paste

  • 3 pc large red chillies, chopped
  • 6 pc shallots, chopped
  • 3 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 pc candlenuts, chopped
  • 2 cm fresh turmeric or 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds or 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder

Cassava Leaves Curry

In his hometown in West Sumatra , this curry is usually made with fiddlehead, so they call it "Gulai Daun Paku ". While in Padang restaurants, I often see them made with long beans and cabbage. Cassava leaf is indeed my favorite, unfortunately this one is not available here in the west . As an alternative I replace it with curly kale (German = Gruenkohl ). As curly kale is not always obtainable then
I made an experiment with savoy ( German = Wirsing). At first I was skeptical with it's hard texture . But after I tried some tricks here & there, I am quite surprised & satisfied with the result. This curry dish tastes really superb, I think what a pity when I skip it from the menu-list just because of one distinctive leaf requirement. Indeed, this curry always tastes delicious, it doesn't matter what kind of vegetables you use!!.
Note: Savoy has a really hard texture, almost resemble to old papaya leaves . To get them soft, discard the hard ribs of the leaves, add 1 tbsp salt, mix and squeeze until the texture getting soften. Rinse them under the running water then blanch until cooked. Have a nice try and good luck 🙂


  • If you replace cassava leaf with savoy or curly kale, discard the hard part/rib of the leaves.
  • Special for savoy but not necessary for curly kale: Add 1 tbsp salt, mix and squeeze until the texture getting soften.
  • Soft savoy.
  • Blanch cassava/savoy/curly kale leaves until tender.
  • Set aside to drain then roughly slice.
  • Heat 50 ml oil in a frying pan, fry the ancovies until golden brown. Set aside to drain.
  • Put all ingredients for the seasoning paste in a blender or food processor & blend until smooth. (If necessery add a little bit oil to help the blending process).
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan, stir-fry the paste with lemongrass, galingale, kaffir-lime leaves & bay leaves.
  • Stir-fry the paste all the time until cooked & fragrant.( approx. 10 min)
  • Transfer the paste to a larger saucepan. Add in the water and tamarind juice.
  • Bring to boil over medium heat. Add cassava leaves or any other sort which had been prepared.
  • Pour-in the thick coconut milk, bring to boil then reduce the heat to simmer and stir often for 15 minutes.
  • Adjust the seasoning, add salt & sugar to taste. Stir to mix. Garnish with fried anchovies (if any). Serve hot.

Important Tipp

  • If you're using blender or food processor instead of mortar or grinding stone to make a spice paste, you will probably need to add some liquid to help the blending process. Therefore there is an important method to be noted to get the optimum result.
  • 1st: If the spice paste should be fried first in a hot oil then you should add a little amount of OIL into the grinder/blender.
  • 2nd: If the spice will be simmered in either water, coconut milk or broth then adding the specified liquid or a small amount of water is recommended. But please do not apply it vice versa, otherwise you could absolutely ruin the taste 😉
Keyword anchovies, cassava leaves, coconut milk, curry, Indonesian

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