Roasted suckling pig, smoked duck with spices, crisp salad: the Balinese cultural richness is also expressed in its cuisine. As the island reopens its borders, an overview of its tastiest culinary specialties.
The fertility of the Balinese lands is found on the plate with colorful and flavorful products. Chilli, crunched like candy by little Balinese from an early age, embellishes dishes with its incomparable spiciness and enhances them with a bright red. The rice paddies that dress the plains and hills of the island in soft green deliver a fragrant grain of dazzling white.
Garlic, shallot, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, tamarind help to multiply the tangy flavors. Peanuts and coconut are also essential ingredients. Sweetness and smoothness are provided by a few grains of palm sugar, which are used in the composition of savory recipes.
Like everywhere else in Indonesia, chicken and fish feature on every menu. But in this Hindu land that is Bali, pork and duck prevail. Not a party is celebrated without the bird or the pig which are then cooked over a wood fire for hours.
SEE THE FILE – Indonesia: the travel guide Figaro
Sate ayam, the star dish
Chicken skewer is the flagship dish of Indonesian cuisine. Thin strips of chicken are marinated in a mixture of ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and oil to set the flavors. They are then cooked over charcoal and served with a sauce made from peanuts and coconut milk. If you find the skewers on the menu of many restaurants, it is on the night markets that you must taste them. A voucher sate ayam should be soft, caramelized and slightly spicy. There are versions with fish (ikan), beef (daging Where sapi) or pork (baby). The Balinese have a clear inclination for holy babi sometimes spiced up with a chilli supplement (lilit).
- WHERE TO ENJOY SATE?
Sate Babi Bawah Pohon. A tired sunny yellow paint tries to give some color to this charmless local. Customers gather around the long tables covered with oilcloth to sample some of the best know from the island. Perfectly caramelized and accompanied by a thick and rich sauce, the skewers are eaten like candies.
Jl Dewi Sri Campuhan, Legian. Such. : +62 819 3625 3567.
Arang State Bar. This address ticks all the right boxes. The setting is pleasant with its false airs of a brasserie, its bistro tables and its long varnished wooden bar. The “Arang Sate Platter” plate combines traditional beef or pork skewers with other more original ones such as smoked duck or fish with miso.
8 Jl Raya Ubud, Ubud. Such. : +62 361 479 2199.
Babi guling, the festive meal
The Balinese, devout Hindus, love pork. They celebrate festivals and ceremonies with a spit-roasted suckling pig. The animal is stuffed with a mixture of ginger, chilli and garlic and cooked over a wood fire for hours on a bamboo stalk. The crunchy skin is served with shredded pork.
- WHERE TO ENJOY BABI GULING?
Warung Ibu Oka. This unpretentious canteen is the reference establishment in Bali to try your hand at babi guling. Located just opposite the former royal palace in Ubud, the haunt attracts mostly tourists. The suckling pig is served in several preparations in small wicker baskets lined with food paper.
1 Jl Suweta, Ubud. Such. : +62 361 976 345.
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen. Locals flock at lunchtime to enjoy a full plate of lacquered pork. Everything is there. Skewers, crispy skin, tender strips of meat, rice and vegetables. The row of exotic wood tables in a small shed barely cooled by fans lacks charm, but the main thing is in the plate.
554 Jl Sunset Road, Seminyak. Such. : +62 851 0045 2968.
Bebek betutu, watch out for strong flavors
the bebek betutu is for thrill seekers. the betutu refers to a spice mixture made up of shallot, garlic, ginger, turmeric, terracotta nut, peanuts, shrimp paste and chilli. Everything is finely reduced to a paste in a mortar and covers a duck leg which will be steamed in coconut bark or banana leaves. the bebek betutu is accompanied by green vegetables and sambal, a red pepper paste.
- WHERE TO ENJOY A BEBEK BETUTU?
Cafe Wayan worth the detour if only for its enchanting setting. Gazebos are scattered throughout a lush garden dotted with delicate flowers, ponds and fountains. Come on Sunday evening, for the Balinese buffet which, in addition to the duck, allows you to learn about many local specialties.
Jl Monky Forest, Ubud. Such. : +62 812 3873 0135.
Gado gado, the vegetarian option
Vegetarians’ favorite dish consists of crunchy green vegetables (beans, cabbage, bean sprouts…), hard-boiled egg, tofu, grilled shallots and two typical Indonesian elements. the tempeh is a fermented soybean paste and the longong comes in the form of a small pressed rice cake cooked in a banana leaf. This mixed salad is generously drizzled with a peanut, chilli, garlic, tamarind and palm sugar sauce.
- WHERE TO ENJOY A GADO GADO?
Ulekan hides in a pavilion of joglo architecture, traditionally reserved for Javanese aristocrats. Beautiful like a double-page spread from a decoration magazine. The equally “instagrammable” dishes convince with their frank and fresh flavors. Be careful, it is often full.
34 Jl Tegal Sari, Tibubeneng. Such. : +62 813 3921 1466.
Nasi campur, a mosaic of flavors
There are as many versions of nasi campur than islands in Indonesia. The plate consists of white rice (nasi) accompanied by small portions of meat, fish and vegetables. In Bali, grilled tuna, fried tofu, tempeh, spinach, pork or chicken sate integrate the mosaic of flavors. The dish appears on restaurant menus as nasi bali.
- WHERE TO ENJOY A NASI CAMPUR?
Lilla Warung thrives in the jungle of countless restaurants in busy Sanur. We love the modernized Balinese setting, the exposed framework, the decor of bricks and jugs. the nasi bali is high on the list of house specialties.
Jl. Bumi Ayu No.6, Sanur, Denpasar Selatan, Kota Denpasar, Bali 80228, Indonesia. Such. : +62 819 3431 1241.
Lawar, beans and coconut
Lawar could be a great vegetarian dish if not served with grilled chicken or pork skin. Green beans are mixed with fresh coconut pulp, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and beaten eggs. When it presents a pinkish color, the lawar is prepared with pig’s blood.
- WHERE TO TASTE A LAWAR?
Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku. Hard to find more traditional than this small restaurant near Ubud. The wood and stone pavilion hides an ordinary dining room where regulars flock to taste again and again the only dish served here: a nasi capur and lawar.
18 Jl Raya Kedewetan, Ubud. Such. : +62 361 974 795.
Sambal matah, the not so incidental condiment
More a condiment than a dish, sambal occupies all Indonesian tables. This chilli paste spiced up the dishes and coated them with a touch of acidity and umami. Bali has its own recipe, served raw. The sambal matah mixes chopped shallots, crushed garlic, fresh chilli, lemongrass, lime and palm sugar. It is aimed at taste buddies who are not afraid of the flame of chili peppers.
- WHERE TO ENJOY SAMBAL MATAH?
Warung Cahaya. Hidden in an alley in Legian, this all-white hut has made sambal matah its specialty. It accompanies fried chicken or pork. Aficionados are asking for more so much that a “sambal” supplement is on the menu.
1 Jl Dewi Rathi, Legian. Such. : +62 852 0583 0136.