The Balinese Culinary Delights

Just like any other country of a reasonable magnitude, Indonesian culture is not synonymous with Balinese culture.  As soon as you set your foot in Bali you will notice how important a role does the religion play in the daily lives of the Balinese folks. Although Indonesia boasts of the world’s largest Muslim population, with only 6% Protestants, 3% Catholics, and 1.8 % Hindus (approximate figures), Bali is a Hindu dominated state with a whopping 93%. Although today we are not going to talk about the Balinese culture, but its impression on food is so great that we cannot skip the topic.

The Balinese cuisine is not directly derived from the Indonesian cuisine. The traditional Balinese food uses pork, duck, and chicken and if you spot beef or lamb being served somewhere, there is a high chance that it will be cooked in the western style. Having said that you may still find beef being served in the modern restaurants to cater to the palate of the tourists. The traditional restaurants called warungs usually do not serve beef as cow is a holy animal in Bali. The Balinese cuisine makes a heavy use of herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, lemon grass, palm sugar, cloves, nutmegs, pepper, and their very own specialty shrimp paste. However, the most popular of all spices is chilli that comes in two versions: cabe (small and very hot) and lombok (bigger and milder).

Having read so much about the traditional warungs, we decided to locate one close to our hotel for lunch. Following the map, we walked on the very tiny and curvaceous footpath with grand hotels on our right and a line of shops selling souvenirs on our left. Soon as I spotted the word “warung,” I dragged the husband inside. It was a very tastefully done little restaurant, with only a couple of German girls enjoying some afternoon beer. The lunch hour had long passed but we were served with pleasure.

Warung

I tried to be a little adventurous and ordered Gado Gado. It turned out to be sautéed vegetables with peanut sauce and prawn crackers. This too was served with steamed rice. Well, at least it looked awesome. Peanut sauce has a sweet taste and one may or may not like it with ones vegetables.

Gado Gado

The husband decided to order Ayam Curry, which was basically chicken curry cooked with a spicy coconut sauce in Javanese style, served with steamed rice.

Ayam Curry

For dinner, we decided to play it a little safer and reserved a table at the highly rated (by Lonely Planet) restaurant called Bumbu Bali. And what an experience that was!

We were greeted by the smiling hostess dressed in the traditional sarong and scarf, and she tucked a frangipani flower behind our ears. Much joy, I say.

Frangipani

Overcome with the lust of trying everything, we ordered the starters first. Big mistake!

His and Her Drinks

They served complimentary prawn crackers with super spicy sambal. I loved it. You must only touch your cracker to the red paste, anything more and your tongue will be on fire.

Hot Sambal with Prawn Crackers

Then our starters were served: shredded chicken salad with the various soya sauce and pickle, and duck satay, with peanut sauce and salad. Lemon grass and chilli for display only. 🙂

Assorted Starters

We followed this up with grilled fish in banana leaf that was served with three types of rice: steamed plain rice, brown rice, and fragrant yellow rice.

Multicolored Rice

Every moment spent in Bumbu Bali was a delight and there was so much more that we wanted to try only the stomach has its limitations. The husband suggested that we go to the same place again the next evening; I wish I had listened to him. In my quest for all things new, I picked a place called CassaBella, which sucked. It did all cosines and that alone should have stopped me from going there. After I sat down and gulped their welcome drink, I noticed that they pride themselves for European cuisine (whatever that is!) and tried to pass undercooked maggi noodles and bland rice in a pineapple as Balinese food. All lies and deceptions. Humph.

Nevertheless, the overall experience with the food in our very short stay in Bali was fantastic and I can comfortably say that Balinese food goes down well with my palate.

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2 Responses to “The Balinese Culinary Delights”

  1. Yay!
    And of three nablopomo-ers I know (including myself) I award you the most dedicated! Couldn’t read your posts daily but I’ve read several at one go. Loved it all through.

    Now email/DM me you address pls, for x-mas card:)

  2. Hmm Yummy nice food …!

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