Bali’s kitchens serve up a range of tasty traditional dishes for adventurous visitors to explore whilst they are visiting the “Island of the Gods”, all can either be enjoyed while dining out in one of the local eateries or cooked up by a local chef in the comfort of a private villa.
While Balinese food may not wow visitors with the same spicy sweetness as Thai food, or the rich creaminess of Indian food cuisine, with a little culinary exploration you’ll fine a wide range of traditional dishes to get your juices flowing. More adventurous visitors prefer to eat in the same way as the locals – on the go at a street stall. However, travellers that enjoy taking their time over their meal can hire the services of a local chef to prepare traditional Balinese dishes in their private villa’s kitchen.
The selection of dishes below offer a more daring alternative for visitors that have eaten their fill of delicious but ubiquitous chicken satay, deep fried spring rolls and gado gado…
A tasty alternative
This pickled vegetable salad is an exciting alternative for those that want to try something new. This dish originated on the neighbouring Indonesian island of Java, and offers up a savoury change for a palate that wants a break from sweet tasting Asian food. The simple salad provides an explosion of contrasting flavours, and is made from mixed pickled carrot, cabbage, cucumber and mustard leaf, before being drizzled with a thin swirl of peanut sauce and pine sugar.
A special occasion
Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim nation so pork does not feature heavily on most menus. On Hindu-dominated Bali, however, pork is more common and this dish is known among regular visitors as on of the all time favourites. Each suckling pig is bathed in coconut water before being seasoned with chilli, turmeric, garlic and ginger. The pig is then spit roasted until crispy on the outside with tender meat beneath. The dish is particularly popular at special occasions and festivals on Bali.
Sweet and savoury
This dish is great for visitors that can’t make up their mind whether they prefer sweet or savoury Balinese food, as it combines both, depending on the filling you choose. The range of ingredients used to fashion this popular street food snack – traditionally eaten in the evening – is vast. Savoury martabak has a crepe-like consistency, and is often served with a filling of egg, onion and beef. Sweet martabak resembles a thick buttery pancake, and is stuffed with a range of sugary treats that often includes chocolate or banana.
Also known as bubuh injin, the best way to describe this sumptuous Balinese delicacy is as a black rice pudding. Bubur sumsum is commonly served up as a dessert, although it also doubles as a breakfast dish or a snack. To make the dish, black and white sticky rice is mixed with coconut milk, palm sugar and pandan leaves. For an extra smattering of sweetness, coconut cream, chopped banana and even nuts are added to the dish as a kind of tropical garnish.
Soto is a traditional Indonesian meat soup, an its ingredients vary considerably depending on where in the archipelago you go to sample it. Visitors that decide to sample Bali’s street food variation on soto are likely to be served with a clear broth flavoured with either chicken, beef or goat, and topped with fried shallots and garlic. The locals also tend to flavour their soto with sambal, a staple condiment at any Indonesian table, comprised of chilies, shrimp paste, lime juice and sugar. A generous dollop of sambal is guaranteed to add a kick to the experience.
by MAX VEE