Bali is well known not only for being a beach destination, but also for a tropical retreat for those who want to enjoy life in its simple and peaceful form. But who would have thought that despite its calming environment, Bali is quite all the rage when it comes to food? Yes, this part of Indonesia offers a wide array of dishes with unique and enticing flavours that not only satisfy your taste buds, but more importantly wake up your senses.
If it’s your first time trying Bali food, then you should definitely include these luscious dishes on your must-eat list:
Bebekbetutu is often regarded as a ceremonial dish due to the painstaking length of time it takes to be cooked. To have the dish served on your table, you must order it a day in advance.
But the waiting time to taste this dish is worth it due to its unique explosion of flavours. The duck is first rubbed with salt and tamarind puree to remove its “ducky” aftertaste, and is then set for a few hours in order to tenderize the meat. Afterwards it is washed off and stuffed with cassava leaves, eggs and bumburejeng, a spice mix made for this particular dish. The duck is then wrapped in betel nut husks and slow cooked until the meat falls off its bones.
Meanwhile, if you are into vegetables, then this dish would meet your craving: lawar. A crunchy mix of vegetables, minced meat, grated coconut savoured with herbs and spices, this dish offers a balance of food groups especially when you’re at a Balinese feast.
What makes lawar different is that it also infused with fresh meat blood and minced meat, thus adding a “rare” feel on the vegetable dish. It also comes in different variations, such as jackfruit lawar, or is paired with another common Indonesian staple, babiguling.
Roughly translate as “chicken in raw sambal,” this is a popular type of Bali food that has caught the hearts of chicken lovers from all over the world. This dish is done by mixing shredded chicken in raw sambal, consisting of lemongrass, ginger, chilli, shallots, shrimp paste, coconut oil, and lime leaves.
This dish is often paired with steamed rice. With every bite you can taste all the flavours of the herbs and spices in the sambal and complemented by the tender chicken meat.
Fish lovers meanwhile may enjoy having Jimbaran-style kanbakar (grilled fish) for dinner. While kanbakar is not originally from Bali, the locals of the region’s Jimbaran Bay have their own style of preparing the dish.
Unlike the typical grilled fish, Jimbaran-style kanbakar makes use of sweet and spicy chillies, tomatoes and herbs to add more flavour to fish (usually a red snapper). The fish is then grilled on top of fresh charcoal and smoked to perfection, thus making it the perfect meal after a long day’s work.
Meanwhile, if you want to play it safe during your first Balinese food trip, then you may start off with the Sate lembat. A popular Indonesian dish consisting of chicken meat on skewers and paired with peanut sauce, Sate lembat transforms into a standout dish when in the region.
The chicken meat is minced and pounded with young grated coconut, then infused with a spice mixture to generate a savoury taste. It is then skewered and barbecued, and served with peanut sauce, sambal, or paste mixtures of cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, and tamarind.
Sate lembat can be eaten as a full meal with rice, or can be enjoyed as is especially when you got it from Bali’s night market barbecue stands.