Monday, May 13, 2024

Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak (Tapioca leaf In Coconut Gravy)

Growing up in the government quarters of Sungei Besi, just across from the army camp, I've always felt a deep connection to Malay culture. Surrounded by Malay neighbors, my siblings and I found ourselves immersed in Bahasa Malaysia more than Tamil. It was here that my love affair with Malay cuisine began, nurtured by the tantalizing aromas wafting from neighboring kitchens.


But it's curious how my Indian friends shy away from Malay dishes, as if I'm an Indian alien for loving Malay cuisine. Unlike me, they seem content to stick to their familiar Indian fare. Yet, I find myself drawn to the rich flavors of Malay food, much to their bemusement.

One dish that never fails to evoke nostalgia is Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak, a traditional Malay delicacy that holds a special place in my heart. As an Indian woman, I take pride in preserving and sharing this recipe, ensuring its continued popularity.


It's heartening to see my husband gradually embracing Malay cuisine, thanks to my encouragement. In a world where children often shun vegetables in favor of fried chicken and fast food, one might wonder: are parents the reason why kids prefer fast food? Dishes like Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak not only tantalize the taste buds but also provide essential nutrition that our children sorely need.


This dish, with its creamy coconut milk, fragrant lemongrass, and fresh turmeric, perfectly encapsulates the essence of Malay cuisine. Not to mention the irresistible kick of spiciness and the savory depth provided by dried prawns and belacan. It's a culinary journey that every Malaysian should embark on, celebrating the rich diversity of our nation's food culture.


1 bunch of tapioca/pucuk ubi leaves, stems discarded and leaves plucked

1/2 cup thick coconut milk

2 tablespoons oil

Salt to taste

For the Paste:

6 fresh red chilies

1-inch piece of fresh turmeric

4 shallots

2 tablespoons dried prawns, soaked and rinsed

1 lemongrass stalk

1/2-inch piece of roasted belacan/shrimp paste


Heat oil in a pan.

Fry the paste until fragrant and aromatic.

Pour enough water to create a gravy consistency.

Simmer and add the tapioca leaves, cooking until softened.

Season with salt to taste.

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