Ask anyone who knew me in while in Liberia, and they would tell you that my favorite dish was cassava leaves. I loved those leaves. No other part of the plant ever was permitted in my home. The root could be grated, fried, dried, powdered, baked, boiled, pounded into playdoh (er, fufu or dumboy) or eaten raw, but every way it was prepared simply was not something I could eat.

But, I loved those leaves!

And, after enough friends - especially Albert - made the dish for me, I learned how to do it on my own. And, I still make it after all these years.


a Liberian dish from Albert Quayee
Zwedru, Liberia
1 bunch cassava leaves salt to taste
1/2 cup palm oil hot pepper to taste
1 large onion 2 Maggi (bouillon) cubes
1 small can tomato paste 1 pound meat if desired

The leaves that I find in the States are usually from the Philippines. I happen to know that the Filipinos do not eat cassava leaves. They do, however, eat the roots. Since I couldn't find any leaves anywhere, my maid gathered some for me from the area where she lived.

Pound your cassava leaves in the mortar until they are just a pulp. Or, if you have a blender, let it do its magic. The rest of the ingredients are the things that most Liberian dishes have. Add your ground cassava leaves to boiling red oil with a diced onion, about 4 tablespoons of tomato paste, salt, hot pepper, maggi cubes, and meat.  Cover with water and then boil it to death.  When the water is gone, it is ready.

The meat is optional. I don't think I've ever had it without meat, but that has never been my favorite part. Chicken, fish or goat tended to be the meat of choice. There are other kinds of meat available. The jury is out on whether is is better to know what the meat is or just close your eyes and eat it.

Serve over a small mountain of rice.

Now, if you want some variety in your life, people from Sierra Leone swear that they make a better cassava leaf dish by adding peanut butter to the mix. I absolutely love peanut butter. However, I prefer it with bread and jelly. I've had it in West African cooking. It's never been one of my favorite ingredients. I'm just giving you that option in case you wanted some spice in your life.

Copyright 1999 and 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.