Cassava and Coconut Balls (Getuk Balls)

I absolutely love getuk (cassava and coconut slice). My earliest memory of getuk is that of a lovely Javanese lady who used to cycle around my neighbourhood streets selling various Javanese and Indonesian traditional snacks. As soon as I was old enough to get pocket money, I would save some of it so that I could buy myself afternoon treats from either the Chinese gentleman who sold Chinese-Indonesian kuehs such as spring rolls, ‘pulut tai tai’ (glutinous rice cakes with coconut/pandan jam), steamed rice rolls, ‘chai pau’ (vegetable kueh) and heaps more, or the Javanese lady who sold just as many varieties of Javanese/Indonesian snacks.

My mom always looked at what I bought from the Javanese lady with wonderment. I bought only getuk from the lady. My mom was always encouraging me to try other snacks that are too labour-intensive or difficult for home-cooks to make in small amounts. I did not quite believe that getuk is incredibly easy to make at home. How could something so delicious not have a secret ingredient or method?

My mom finally showed me how to make getuk after I was old (interested) enough in cooking. It was a jaw-dropping moment for me. My mom was right as always, getuk is one easy treat to make.

Getuk is traditionally served in squares or diamond shaped blocks with a sprinkle of steamed grated coconut on top. I make mine into balls because they look very lovely and they will be well coated with yummy coconut this way. Think of them as chocolate-free truffle balls. I use desiccated coconut for my recipe because fresh coconut is hard to come by around my area. In Asia, buying freshly grated coconut is as easy as ordering fast food. The sellers grate coconuts on the spot using ingenous home-made, semi-automatic graters. Freshly grated coconut is usually lightly salted and steamed for use in Asian desserts/snacks such as getuk.

Formed into little balls, getuk is a very cost-effective finger food. With my recipe, you can make about 55-60 bite-sized getuk balls using just 500 grams of cassava and a little bit of sugar and coconut.

Note: Cassava should not be eaten raw. FSANZ (2011) recommends that both fresh and frozen cassavas should be peeled, sliced and cooked thoroughly to remove its toxin. Cassavas from the Pacific Islands sold commercially in Australia are generally of the sweet variety which contain less toxin than the bitter variety. Please see the FSANZ factsheet for further information:


Cassava and Coconut Balls (Getuk)
Makes about 55-60 bite-sized balls

500 g/1 lb 2 oz peeled cassava (I use frozen cassava)
75-100 g/2.7-3.5 oz brown sugar or grated palm sugar (dark palm sugar will impart better colour to getuk)
50 mL (5 tbsp US) water

Coconut sprinkle:
1 cup desiccated coconut
¼ tsp iodised salt
1 tbsp water

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the cassava. Bring the water back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer the cassava over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes (boil for 15 minutes for firm getuk with a bit of lumps, or up to 20 minutes for soft and smooth getuk). Drain well and leave to cool.

Heat the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to low-medium. Watch it constantly. Remove the mixture from heat when it has slightly thickened or darkened. Leave to cool.

Place the coconut, salt and water on a shallow plate. Mix well. Heat the mixture in the microwave oven at high for 1 minute.

Mash the cassava. Add the sugar solution and mix well. With clean hands, take a little bit of the mixture and form it into a bite-sized ball. Roll in the coconut sprinkle mixture. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for no more than 2 days.

© 2012 Lusiana Njo


17 thoughts on “Cassava and Coconut Balls (Getuk Balls)

  1. I like it even more with a lil chunk of cassava and palm sugar instead of smooth mashed..
    never shaped that into balls, sounds fancy…
    btw, my grandma used to make a getuk casserole (still a lil chunky) and baked it to melt the palm sugar….
    btw, are u had an Indonesian descent???

    1. Yes, I love the chunky getuk too. I boiled and mashed mine because I did not have a good steamer.

      I’m curious about the getuk casserole. I hope you will share the recipe in your blog.

      I grew up in Indonesia, enjoying the amazing varieties of Indonesian & Chinese Indo foods.

      1. Well actually my grandmas used to put a chunk of cassava and palm sugar, put it in a crockpot/ casserol then sealed with alumunium foil then roasted it in au baine marie(like making cheese cake)..
        no eed to dd water to the dish, it’s soften by its own steam….

      1. As far as looking for the getuk, and getting it, I was successful. However, sadly, they didn’t taste like what I remember when I was a little kid. I don’t know if my taste bud changed, or it was just wasn’t as tasty as I thought it was? 🙂

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