Daily Cooking Quest

Gulai Kale - Kale in Spicy Coconut Broth

Kale is not a commonly found vegetables in Indonesia. Gulai kale - kale in spicy coconut broth traditionally uses either cassava leaves (Indonesian: daun singkong) or young ferns (Indonesian: daun pakis), but both are pretty much impossible to find in the States. I used to substitute with spinach, but I found out that the recipe works out so much better with kale instead, especially baby kale. The slight bitterness in kale matches so perfectly with the slight bitterness in cassava leaves, and when using baby kale, the cooking time is so much faster compared to cassava leaves. You can also use regular kale, but the adjust the cooking time and make sure to cook until the leaves are tender.

Gulai Kale - Kale in Spicy Coconut Broth

The traditional recipe from Padang calls for the use of bird eye chilies, so this dish is actually a super spicy dish. In my recipe I change the chilies to fresno which has a much lower scoville score compared to bird eye. If you are used to eating spicy dishes, stick to bird eye chilies, otherwise, fresno is probably a safer option. If you are out of fresh chilies, you can also use dried red chilies, just soak a while in hot water to soften before using.

Gulai Kale - Kale in Spicy Coconut Broth

Gulai Kale - Kale in Spicy Coconut Broth

5.0 from 1 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Serves: 4


  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • 3 Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • 2 lemongrass, green parts only, cut into 2 inch sections
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 500 gram baby kale, washed and drained
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (from canned coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoon palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • Spice paste (grind
  • 10 red fresno chilies, seeded
  • 100 gram shallot
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 2 lemongrass, white parts only
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1/2 inch galangal
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds/powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


  1. Heat oil in a wok on medium heat. Sauté spice paste, bay leaves, lime leaves, and green parts of lemongrass until fragrant. About 5 minutes.
  2. Add water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add baby kale, cook until wilted.
  4. Add coconut milk, and season with palm sugar an salt. Adjust amount of salt/sugar as needed. Once it boils, turn the heat off. Serve hot.


  • JW says:

    If I don't use any chillies at all, which other spices to add? Or can I still keep the other spice measurements the same? My toddler won't even have a bite if she taste something a tad bit spicy. Thanks.

    • Anita says:

      You can omit all the chilies but still use the rest of the spices.

      • JW says:

        Thanks Anita. I can't wait to try it. A friend of mine showed this dish a few years ago. And it tasted sooo gooood... But I have forgotten the recipe. I'm so glad I found yours! :)

        • Anita says:

          Happy to help! I too know the feeling of finding that long lost recipe. It's like getting a present :)

  • Indri says:

    Hi Anita, thanks for this recipe ! I cooked 3 times already ! It was closed enough to Daun Singkong for texture wise , if I can not find fresno I uses habanero / rawit instead & unseeded because I love spicy , It turns out so delicious ! I live in Europe where Indonesian ingredients not easy to find such as Daun Singkong , Kale in other hand are in every groceries , one of they say as super food , I ate this with steamed rice or if I missing so much my fave Nasi Padang style food back then when I live in Indonsian , I pair with Ayam Bakar Padang / rendang or dendeng balado , my stomach are so happy :).

    • Anita says:

      I'm glad you like this gulai recipe with kale, Indri. It's the same in the US, very hard to find daun singkong, but kale is in every grocery store. :)

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