Bali Indonesian Food Guide

Delicious Balinese and Indonesian Cuisine

Trying authentic local foods can be an adventurous activity for some tourists, especially if you are a foodie. Bali is an island with very diverse culinary delights, influenced by many immigrants from other areas in Indonesia or even different countries from around the world. Creative fusion recipes born every second from many culinary experts and food enthusiasts. However, the original dishes cooked with authentic recipes that have been kept for generations never failed to win our hearts.

Most common Ingredients & Spices

  • garlic
  • chili
  • shallots
  • pepper
  • clove
  • nutmeg
  • candlenut
  • turmeric
  • galangal
  • coriander
  • star anise
  • ginger
  • cumin
  • kaffir lime
  • lemongrass

Nasi – Rice, the main ingredient

Rice is the basic food for ingredient for Indonesian dishes, including Bali, and yes, it is not uncommon, to eat rice three times a day. Beras is rice in its raw form and Nasi when it’s cooked. There are several different type of rice that are used for cooing. Mainly white rice, (NASI PUTIH) or red/brown rice (NASI MERAH), yellow rice with tumeric powder (NASI KUNING). Rice steamed in coconut milk is called “Nasi Uduk” . Rice dishes are usually served with fish, chicken, pork or beef and a portion of vegetables. 

Spicy Food

Indonesian food is generally not as spicy as maybe Thai-Food, but depending on the Chili being used (Sambal) you might want to start off easy. If you are not so accustomed to spicy food, don’t forget to say “tidak pedas” means not spicy.

Basics

Nasi – Rice  |  Ayam = Chicken  |  Sapi = Beef  |  Ikan = Fish  |  Babi = Pork  |  Bebek = Duck  |  Sayur = Vegetable  |  Telur = Egg  | Goreng = Fried  | Pedas = hot / spicy  |  bungkus = packed, to-go  |  panas = hot  |  dinging = cold

Here is a selection of the most common and most recommended dishes you must try during your holiday in Bali.

Sambal

Sambal is a spicy condiment made of chilli as the main ingredients along with other seasonings like shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, and lime juice. Every island in Indonesia has its specific sambal, in Bali we have sambal matah and sambal be. Sambal matah is probably one of the most favourite sambal all over the country, it is almost similar to salsa but made of chillies, shallots, garlic, terasi (shrimp paste), lemongrasses, kaffir lime leaves, and other ingredients. Not like another sambal, matah doesn’t require all the ingredients to be mashed in the mortar; all ingredients only need to be finely sliced then mixed all together with a drench of hot vegetable oil and lime juice.

Ayam & Bebek Betutu / Chicken & Duck Betutu

Betutu is a richly spiced Balinese poultry dish. It is often called according to its main ingredients; Ayam betutu is chicken betutu, while Bebek betutu is the duck version. This traditional dish can be found on the menu of luxury hotels or restaurants to street food stalls in many roads of Bali.

The term betutu is the Balinese word for a specific spice mixture (bumbu) which consist of shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, wild ginger, galangal, candlenuts, chilli peppers, shrimp paste, and peanuts all finely ground using mortar and pestle. The betutu spice paste is sauteed with coconut oil to release its aroma and applied to poultry, chicken or duck. Typical side dishes may include plecing kangkung, crispy-fried peanuts and sambal terasi.

Babi Guling/ Roasted Suckling Pig

Babi guling is one of the most iconic Bali classic dishes. It’s a roasted pork dish, commonly served with rice, pork satay, crackling pork skin, shredded vegetables that have been well seasoned with many spices.

In the past, this dish only served during special occasion like weddings, funerals, baby’s third-month blessing and also tooth filing ceremony. But today we can see many warung and restaurants scattered throughout the island specialise in selling this roast suckling pig. You don’t have to wait for a special event to enjoy this culinary delight. 

Sate/ Satay 

Satay is a favourite dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, poultry or fish, served with a sauce. This type of meal is very easy to be found in many south-east Asia countries. Commonly it is served with peanut sauce, sweet soy sauce or spicy sauce. In Bali, there’s a unique satay made of minced fish, pork, chicken or beef which wrapped around in a flat bamboo sticks or lemongrass stalks. This satay is called “Sate Lilit”, considered as one of the most favourites satay in the island. 

The authentic Balinese sate lilit is very rich in “bumbu” or seasonings, a mixture of spices and herbs. It is ranging from lime leaves to coconut milk, garlic, shallots, blue galangal, coriander, lesser galangal, turmeric and chilli pepper. 

Nasi Campur

Nasi campur is a combo/ complete dish consists carbs from a portion of steamed rice, served together with couple proteins from egg, chicken, pork, beef or fish. Fibres from small portions of sauteed vegetables, spicy condiments (sambal) and crackers. Vegetarians or vegans still can enjoy this special dish by replacing the proteins with Tempeh, Tahu (Tofu) and Perkedel (seasoned potato fritter)

Lawar

Lawar is arguably the most traditional dish in Bali. Every village has its version of this delicious Balinese salad. Commonly it consists of green bean, vegetable oil, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, palm sugar, fresh grated coconut, and fried shallots, all mixed. Lawar is named according to its additional protein ingredients; for example, lawar with chicken is called lawar ayam, lawar mixed with pork is called lawar babi (pork lawar). A vegetarian lawar which uses young jackfruit is called lawar nangka.

Some types of lawar might contain the blood of butchered animal (usually pork or chicken blood) mixed with spices to add taste. Because of its abundant protein and fat content acquired from coconut milk and perhaps blood, lawar spoils easily and it should be consumed immediately; it is usually suitable for half a day before going bad.

Nasi Goreng

Nasi goreng or fried rice is everyone’s’ favourite. It is made from simple ingredients and spices like garlic, shallots, salt and peppers. Every region in Indonesia, has their specific key-ingredients added to this dish, for example, Jakarta people will add sweet soy sauce and Surabaya people will add extra tomato sauce/ ketchup. However, it’ll be perfect to be served with slices of fried chicken, sunny side up and crunchy crackers.

Es Daluman

Es Daluman is an excellent cold dessert consists of grass jelly, palm sugar syrup and coconut milk. This drink is perfect for cooling down your body during hot summer days in Bali.

Jaje Bali

Jaje Bali is a sweet snack consist of many colourful cake elements made from glutinous flour, sprinkle of grated coconut and drizzled of palm sugar syrup. You can find this dish in the traditional market or local villages. 

Gado-Gado

Even though not originally from Bali, but this dish is definitely must try when you’re visiting Bali. This dish is technically like a salad dish, diced of tempeh and tofu, rice cakes, various raw and steamed vegetables topped with peanut sauce and crunchy crackers. 

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