Collard Greens, The Indonesian Way

Yesterday, I experienced an impulsive longing for home. Yes, even after 7 years of living here in Seattle, the home to my guts is still Indonesia. I miss street vendors selling snacks, while it might be unhygienic, it was cheap and satisfying. My dad used to say, whatever food that is sold in a kaki lima, it’s gotta be good. It’s like the fast food of Indonesia, minus the trans fat.

I especially miss Padang food, where they’d take out several dishes at once upon your arrival. So you just pick which dishes you want. You don’t even have to wait to order. There’s a saying, hit the ground running. This is “hit the chair eating”. Or if you decide to get a take-out, they’ll wrap your food in banana leaves. Hot food + banana leaves = heaven. I think the hot food helps permeate its fragrance.

I usually like their rendang, cooked brains and cassava leaves in coconut broth. But since it was an impromptu lunch, and I didn’t have cassava leaves in hands, I tried using collard green. It has the pleasant bitterness that cassava leaves offer, I didn’t expect it to work this well. Served over hot rice, it felt almost like home.


  • 1 bunch collard greens, cut into 1-inch strips and boiled until softens
  • 1 can coconut milk (I use Chaokoh coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp trasi
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Chilies, as much as you can handle
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Crush garlic, shallots, ginger, coriander seeds, candlenuts, chilies and trasi together.
  2. Saute the ground mixture until fragrant, add in the coconut milk, chicken stock and the turmeric powder. Once it’s boiling, stir in collard greens.
  3. Add the lemongrass, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook until the collard greens is really soft. Serve over hot rice.

Now I wonder if I open a Padang hut in Seattle, would people come?


7 responses to “Collard Greens, The Indonesian Way

  1. I love the “hit the chair eating” line!
    I've never had Indonesian food, this recipe sounds like a good place to start.

  2. I love Padang food too :D)!! I don't usually eat the collar greens though, I always have either ayam panggang/bakar, ayam kari, green beans or sambal goreng udang….! Damn, talking about it makes me really hungry ;)!

  3. Lynn: you should try it!

    Cooking Gallery: Now you're making me hungry too….

  4. Loved reading your post. I would love to have hot food wrapped in banana leaves…how unusual!
    Your collard greens looks and sound so comforting delicious, and nice with the various spices.

  5. Elisabeth: thank you. Comment like yours keeps me going 🙂

  6. What a great idea to use coconut milk. Collard greens is so good in slow cooking. I can imagine it to be infused with the flavors of coconut milk, coriandar seed, lemon grass, and more. Yum!

  7. It is strange how food connects triggers memories of our past. Your greens sound delicious. This is my first visit to your site and I've spent some time browsing through your earlier entries.I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you feature here and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

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