Authentic Liberian Cassava Leaf is one of my favorite dishes that I very rarely cook. My mother easily makes the best I’ve ever tasted and it’s my number one request when I go home. I’ve shared with you guys my other two favorites – Liberian Jollof Rice and Liberian Potato Greens, but Cassava Leaf is a much more involved dish to cook.
What is Cassava Leaf?
Just like it sounds, cassava leaves are the leaves of the cassava plant and are the main component of the Cassava Leaf Dish. It is extremely popular in Liberia, but variation of this dish are also served in other African nations, under the names Saka Saka and Pondu. Like most West African Dishes, Cassava Leaf is basically a hearty stew, complete with a variety of meats and served with rice or sometimes fufu. That’s honestly the best way I describe most West African dishes.
Why do we call it Cassava “Leaf” instead of Cassava “Leaves,” I don’t really know. It could be the Liberian accent or just our unique way of doing things. The two can be used interchangeably and it still results in the same delicious dish!
Is Cassava Leaf Healthy?
I would personally argue that most West African dishes are relatively healthy for the simple fact that most have a vegetable base, are freshly cooked, and contain red palm oil, which also has many health benefits. Cassava leaves, specifically, are lower in calories and known to assist in digestion. According to Health Benefits Times, The various health benefits of cassava leaves include:
- High Iron Content – great for anemia and pregnant women
- High Vitamin C to fight illnesses and enhance endurance
- High Amounts of Magnesium to assist with rheumatic diseases such as arthritis
The Easiest Recipe for Liberian Cassava Leaf
I can’t even lie to you and say this is an easy West African recipe by any means. In fact, it’s one of the dishes I have stayed away from cooking for many years because the last time I tried to cook it years ago, I completely botched it. I finally got the recipe right, with some help from my mom and other trusty sources, and that’s what I’m sharing here with you all.
- 3 1 lb packs of frozen cassava leaves (found in most International grocery stores or farmers markets)
- 1-2 pounds of a variety of meats – chicken beef chunks, and/or shrimp
- 2-3 pieces of dried fish
- 1 onion – chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper optional – if spice is desired
- ½ - 1 cup palm oil
- Chicken bouillon cubes and other seasonings of your choice to taste
Pre-season meats with seasoned salt. For best results, let seasoned meats sit overnight.
In a large pot, add meats (except shrimp), dried fish, onions, bouillon cubes and enough water to cover the meats. Bring to a boil.
When meats are almost fully cooked, add the cassava leaves into the pot.
Add additional seasonings and buillion cubes to taste
Boil all ingredients together for about 25 minutes or until water is almost is almost diminished. (you will need to check the water frequently so it doesn’t dry up) If cooking with shrimp, you may add them at any time while cassava leaves are cooking.
When the water is almost diminished, add the palm oil to the cassava leaves and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve over rice