- SATE LILIT
We Indonesians love our meat on skewers, so much that almost every region in Indonesia has its own sate.
Bali is not different. In fact Bali has many sate variations. Choosing a favorite was tough, but we settled on good old sate lilit, a minced meat, grated coconut, coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots and chilli pepper combo wound around a bamboo, sugar cane or lemongrass stick, all grilled on charcoal. It can be a spicy one, but oh so delish.
Authentic Balinese sate lilits are generally made out of pork and fish but you can find chicken or beef ones on the island from time to time.
- BABI GULING
The suckling pig is definitely a dish unique to Bali, with Indonesia’s majority being Muslim and therefore non-pig eaters. You probably won’t find much pig-meat based dishes in most parts of the country.
In Hindu Bali, however, babi guling is the local dish. In Balinese traditions, babi guling is normally served as an offering during religious ceremonies (like this one here) but its popularity amongst pig-loving tourists who literally drool over this dish has lead to its widespread availability throughout the island.
Babi guling is roasted whole over fire, stuffed with onions, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, shallots, chillies and whatever other goodness the babi guling warung chef decides would render his or her dish delicious.
Usually served with steamed rice and babi guling, lawar is a mix of vegetables, coconut and minced meat drowned in rich herbs and spices (including shrimp paste, ground pepper, green beans and jackfruit), sometimes added with blood to intensify the taste. It’s a very common dish that you will find across most warungs in Bali.
You’ll find all sorts of lawar in Bali. Pork lawar and jackfruit lawar are pretty common, or if you are into trying exotic things, dragonfly lawar can also be found. These aren’t as readily available though, as they take a long time to prepare due to the amount of dragonflies needed to make it (which probably also means lengthy capturing time).
- NASI CAMPUR
If there is one thing that Indonesians can’t live without, it’s nasi.
So technically nasi campur is not from Bali, because much like sate, every region in Indonesia claims to have its own version, including Bali.
We do love the Bali version though, and it’s an easy thing to order when we can’t make a decision because you get multiple goodness of Balinese food inside a banana leaf. And then there’s the surprise factor—you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get (unless you’re doing a serve yourself sort of deal). It could be grilled tuna, tofu, fried tempeh, spinach, sate lilit, who knows?
We did find one thing in common across most Balinese nasi campurs. When you order it from local eateries, the sambal they put on the side (or on top) tends to be ridicolously spicy. Beware and enjoy.
- NASI JINGGO (ALSO REFERRED TO AS NASI JENGGO)
You know how sometimes you get hungry at 10pm and you want to eat something filling, but not exactly eat a whole meal?Nasi jinggo (or jenggo) is designed for those night cravings. It’s kind of a smaller version of nasi campur, but generally contains white rice, crispy fried tempeh with chillies, shredded chicken and serundeng (shredded coconut fried with a myriad of spices). Only available in Bali.
- BUBUR MENGGUH
A Buleleng speciality, this is a more coconut-y version of bubur ayam (chicken rice porridge commonly eaten for breakfast all over Indonesia).
The rice porridge, which is sometimes cooked in coconut milk, is served with an assortment of fried peanuts, green beans, and chicken cooked with bay leaves and galangal. There is also usually an additional sauce, composed of red and brown onions, shallots, turmeric, red-chillies, hazelnut, coriander, salt and ground pepper. Sometimes coconut oil is added for extra richness.
This vegetable dish hails from Klungkung and therefore commonly found across the three Nusa islands, though also available on Bali’s mainland.
Serombotan is a mix of veggies drizzled with sambal kelapa (coconut chilli sauce) and bumbu koples, which is kind of like a sweet soy sauce mixed with a myriad of spices. Yes, we know, there is an overwhelming amount of coconuts involved in these dishes, but on an island where a lot of it is grown locally, why wouldn’t you use it?
Sambal kelapa is usually made out of shredded coconuts, crushed chillies, onions, lime juice, galangal, shrimp paste, and salt. It is blended (or crushed) together and fried to perfection. Bumbu koples is made out of peanuts, palm sugar, shrimp paste, chillies, lime juice and sweet soy sauce. Like most Balinese sauces, coconut oil is sometimes added to up the flavoursomeness.
- JAJA BALI
For those with a sweet tooth, you cannot leave Bali without trying Jaja Bali, which is an assortment of kue (sweet treats) that hail from the island.
Depending on which market stalls or warung you purchase it from, some of the kue you can expect include laklak (rice-flour muffins with grated coconut and drizzled with palm sugar caramel), pisang rai (steamed banana with grated coconut), bubur injin (black rice pudding with coconut milk sauce) and dadar(pandan crepes filled with palm sugar and coconut).
- BEBEK AND AYAM BETUTU
Betutu is an iconic Balinese favourite, consisting of a whole chicken or duck stuffed with traditional spices, wrapped in banana leaves, then enveloped tight in banana trunk bark before it’s baked or buried in a coal fire for 6 to 7 hours. The result is a rich and juicy, succulent feast with all meat easily separated from bones. Betutu is the Balinese slow-cooked luscious equivalent of babi guling for ‘non-pork eaters’.
- PEPES AND TUM
Pepes is an Indonesian Sundanese cooking method using banana-leaf as food wrappings. The small package is sewed with thin bamboo sticks at both ends, and either steam-cooked, boiled or grilled. It is most commonly used to prepare fish as “pepes ikan” or meat, chicken, tofu or vegetables. Tum takes on a different form, with the wrapping folded and stitched at one top end, and usually steam-cooked. The banana-leaf wrapping provides a special aromatic appeal to the cooked blen.