Bali Food Guide
Bali is becoming increasingly well known as a gastronomical destination. With firmly established old favourites on the fine dining scene, new contenders opening up almost every week, and a vibrant scene of cafes and bars serving up just about every type of cuisine you could imagine, it’s easy to see why. Part of the excitement of travelling is experiencing something new and different. So while we definitely recommend you try out some of the brilliant restaurants serving up dishes from around the world, no visit to Bali would be complete without trying out the fantastic and flavoursome traditional Indonesian food. Read on and tantalize your taste buds with these delicious dishes!
Satay are marinated and skewered meats. The marinating sauce may be in different flavours depending on where in Indonesia you are. One of the favourites in Bali is a Peanut satay sauce, and satay ayam (chicken) may be served on its own with plain rice, or as part of a larger mixed dish.
Balinese Food to Tempt your Tastebuds
Babi Guling is a spit roasted pig, that’s stuffed with Balinese spice and vegetable mixes to give a unique flavour. ‘Guling’ means to roll and the dish is slowly rolled over the coals as it is cooked over a coal fire. The final dish has a crispy skin and tender and juicy meat. Babi Guling is traditionally a shared meal eaten at special occasions and ceremonies. Now many restaurants across the island can be found serving up this traditional Balinese food, although it may be necessary to order a day in advance due to the long cooking time.
Nasi Goreng is a fried rice dish that comes in different varieties throughout Indonesia and south east Asia. In Bali, you’ll find nasi goreng served with mixed vegetable and often chicken and prawns. It’s traditionally served with a fried egg on top and often comes with some chicken satay and a piece of fried chicken.
Mie Goreng is a similar dish to nasi goreng, but this time it’s fried noodles. Again the noodles will be mixed with vegetables and subtle spices and may come with chicken. An egg is also traditionally served on top of the noodles, but with mie goreng, the egg comes as an omelette
A Great variety of Traditional Food in Bali
Beef Rendang is a traditional curry, originally from the Minangkuabau people from west Sumarta. The meat most commonly used in redang is beef. It is cooked very slowly in coconut milk and spices, constantly turning the ingredients in a pan until the liquids have evaporated and the meat is fully cooked. This method of cooking ensures the meat if fully infused with the flavours of the spices and coconut milk. Redang is usually served with steamed rice or ketupat – a compressed rice cake. The number of spices used give this dish a unique taste.
Fresh sea food abounds in Bali, and the fish markets are buzzing every morning as the day’s fresh catch is brought ashore. From roadside warungs, to fine dining establishments, fish and other sea foods can be found all over the island. Without question though, one of the best places to sample fresh fish in a stunning setting is at Jimbaran Bay. Here, numerous fish grills line the golden sands of the beach allowing you to savour the flavours of the day while watching an incredible Bali sunset. Choose your restaurant and then choose your sea food –Mahi Mahi and snapper are favourites. Enjoy them barbecued and served with Balinese spices and steamed rice.
When is comes to food in Bali, rice, or nasi is the staple, and it pervades the island, from the lush green rice paddies where it is grown to its prevalence in eateries everywhere. As well as standard white rice, yellow and red rice are also popular. Nasi Padang is a buffet style meal, where rice is served with a range of accompaniments of your choosing, from boiled eggs, to vegetables to meats. Padang warungs are found all over and if you’re looking for a quick feed full of local flavour this option comes highly recommended.
Bakso is a meatball, that may be made of chicken or beef. In Hindu Bali, Bakso Ayam, or chicken meatballs are the most common. You may also find pork bakso. Bakso not only refers to the individual meatball, but also the whole meal – bakso are served in a soup that often also contains a type of noodle. While you may find bakso in warungs, you’ll also see lots of Bakso carts being pushed around the streets, with piles of bakso meatballs piled up in a glass container. These are precooked and ready to be boiled in hot water and served to customers.
Sample Traditional Indonesian Food in Bali
Bebek and Ayam Betutu
Betutu is a true Balinese favourite and consists of either a whole duck (bebek) or ayam (chicken). The duck of chicken is stuffed with traditional spices before being wrapped in banana leaves. The banana leaves are then wrapped in the bark of a banana tree trunk before being baked in a coal fire for 6 – 7 hours. The slow cooking ensures succulent and juicy meal. The cooking method is similar to Babi Guling and so this dish in many ways forms and equivalent for people who don’t eat pork.
So there you have it, our introduction to the wonderful word of traditional food in Bali. Of course there’s plenty more to discover, such as the sumptuous sweet rice cakes, and black rice pudding perfect for deserts. The best way to find out more though, is to get out there and try it. Ask away at local restaurants, and the owners will be more than happy to explain what’s on offer and give you their tips on what’s a ‘must try’ on the menu.
You may also like to read about the best restaurants in Bali. You can find our guides to restaurants in different areas of Bali here: /best-restaurants-in-bali/