Community Cook – Ary’s Balado Cassava Leaves

Ary grew up in a small town called Pekalongan in Central Java, Indonesia, where local food and farming is a huge and important part of life. She was living with her family when she ended up meeting a young American man, Ben and moving to live with him in East Java. That was 22 years ago, and after some time living in Bali, Seattle and Yogjakarta and 3 children later they came to settle in Darwin.

Ary has a love of plants and has been learning about native landscapes and conservation at a training program for migrant women, through Greening Australia. Part of this program also encourages the sharing of stories and connection through the love of plants and food. Ary loves Darwin and the good Tropical weather, the local produce that is easily grown, the markets and the diverse but inclusive community feeling. She also love that is not so far from Indonesia but has a lot less traffic and people.


Ary cooked this wonderful cassava dish to share at a local food lunch. She loves this dish as it reminds her of home, and often makes it for special occasions. Every two weeks when there are particular muslim gatherings for women and children (“Majlis Taklim Shasisoma” = Bahasa for knowledge sharing), these are either at the Darwin Mosque or at community members houses; food is shared and she always asked to make this dish as it is a favorite among her friends.


This dish can be easily made from leaves grown in the backyard, so it is inexpensive, You can then buy turkey mince, tempee or tofu mince to add to it. The cassava leaves need to be fresh and young.

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Young cassava leaves- enough to be about 600g when boiled and squeezed dry.

300-500  g Turkey mince/ Tofu mince or tempe

1 can Coconut cream

2- 3 sticks of lemongrass- cut and smashed

1 Onion

3 Cloves of Garlic

7 Red long chilies (medium)

2-3 tomatoes

1 Cube veggie stock

Oil (coconut or rice bran)


Clean the leaves really well- boil in a pan of water for about 10 minutes, cool,  squeeze, and then cut when cold into slices.

Chop and Fry the onion and garlic and then the chili, add in tomatoes, then the tofu or turkey mince or tempe, fry for 10 minutes (until browned and cooked through)

Now add veggie stock cube (not in water)

Add in the smashed up lemongrass

Now add in the chopped up leaves and stir

Add in the coconut milk, stir a little more and cook for 15 minutes more.

Now serve in bowl and enjoy with rice and friends.


Choppe spinach

If you know a community cook in Darwin who would like to share their recipe, GULP NT can organise a gathering with their small team. $100 plus ingredients can be offered to the participating cook for hosting and sharing. Get in touch today and share your stories and food love. | gulpcommunity@gmail. com

The Community Cooks project and story write ups  have been made possible by City of Darwin community grants.