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Balinese cuisine

Examples of Balinese dishes, such as sate lilit, nasi kuning, lawar, and lalah manis sambal condiment

Balinese cuisine is a cuisine tradition of Balinese people from the volcanic island of Bali. Using a variety of spices, blended with the fresh vegetables, meat and fish.[1] Part of Indonesian cuisine, it demonstrates indigenous traditions, as well as influences from other Indonesian regional cuisine, Chinese and Indian. The island's inhabitants are predominantly Hindu and culinary traditions are somewhat distinct with the rest of Indonesia, with festivals and religious celebrations including many special foods prepared as the offerings for the deities, as well as other dishes consumed communally during the celebrations.[2]

Bebek betutu (smoked duck)

Rice, the primary grain is almost always consumed as a staple accompanied with vegetables, meat and seafood. Pork, chicken, fruit, vegetables and seafood are widely utilized, however just like most Hindus, beef is never or rarely consumed.[3]

Bali is a popular tourist destination, and the area has quite a lot of cooking schools with daily courses of Balinese cuisine.[4] Night markets, warungs (food stands), and fruit vendors sell local delicacies.[4] Festivals include ornately prepared foods as part of the celebrations. As a popular tourist area, many westernized foods are also available as well.


Pasar pagi, morning wet market selling fruits and vegetables in Ubud.

Steamed rice is commonly consumed in every meal. Pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables are widely consumed. As Hindus however, Balinese never or rarely consume beef. This restriction is especially observed by those who belong to Brahmin and Kshatriya castes. Nevertheless, lesser Gusti (nobles) and common Balinese people might consume beef, albeit rarely.[3]

Spices include Kaempferia galanga (galangal), shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger and Kaffir lime are used in Balinese cuisine. Balinese 8-spice is made with white pepper, black pepper, coriander, cumin, clove, nutmeg, sesame seed, and candlenut. Palm sugar, fish paste, and basa gede (a spice paste) are used.[5]

Fruits include rambutan, mangoes, mangosteen, bananas, jackfruit, passion fruit, nangka, pineapple, salak (snake fruit), duku, kelengkeng, wani (white mango or Mangifera caesia), papaya, longan, melon, oranges, custard-apple, coconut and durian.[6]

Traditions, serving and outlets

A warung in Bali.

In Hindu Balinese traditions, certain foodstuffs are served in religious rituals, used as an offering for gods. During religious ceremony, festively decorated fruits and foodstuff are brought to the temple as an offering. Balinese believed that certain foodstuff is an appropriate offering for certain deities. For example pork is favoured by Batara Kala, while ducks are favoured by Hindu gods, such as Brahma. Certain rare foodstuff such as turtle meat is also used in rituals.

Balinese households usually purchase fresh ingredients from the local market every morning, cook and serve them in the late morning to be mainly consumed for lunch. The leftovers are stored to be heated again for family dinner. Other than homemade family dishes, Balinese cuisine are served from humble street side carts and warungs, to fancy restaurants in resorts and five-star hotels. Small family-run warungs are the budget options for street food, serving everything from family dishes for full meals, or snack foods.

Balinese warungs or restaurants usually specified on certain menu, for example there are restaurants that specialized on solely serving babi guling (suckling pig), bebek betutu (crispy duck), or nasi campur (Balinese mixed rice). Some warung specialized on selling tipat cantok (similar to kupat tahu) or nasi jinggo mixed rice.


Balinese nasi campur with meat and fish versions of sate lilit

Bali has a strong rice agriculture tradition in Indonesia, as evidence through centuries old intricate network of sophisticated Subak irrigation system. The Balinese water temples regulates the water allocation of each village's ricefields in the region. Balinese Hinduism revered Dewi Sri as an important rice goddess.[2] Her and other deities colorful effigies made from colorful sticky rice are often made during religious ceremonies.

Spices and seasonings

Telur bumbu from Bali (boiled eggs in a hot and spicy sauce)

Basa gede, also known as basa rajang, is a spice paste that is a basic ingredient in many Balinese dishes.[2][7][unreliable source?] Basa gede form the cornerstone of many Balinese dishes. Its ingredients include garlic, red chili peppers, Asian shallots, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, palm sugar, cumin, shrimp paste and salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaf).[8]

Soto babi, Balinese pork soto

Balinese dishes are punctuated by basa genep, the typical Balinese spice mix used as the base for many curry and vegetable dishes.[9] As well as bumbu (seasoning) used as a marinade. Tabia lala manis, which is a thin soy sauce with chili peppers, and sambal matah are popular condiments.[10]


Balinese preparing pork satay for communal religious ceremony

Balinese foods include lawar (chopped coconut, garlic, chilli, with pork or chicken meat and blood), Bebek betutu (duck stuffed with spices, wrapped in banana leaves and coconut husks cooked in a pit of embers), Balinese sate known as sate lilit made from spiced mince pressed onto skewers which are often lemongrass sticks, Babi guling also known as celeng guling (a spit-roasted pig stuffed with chilli, turmeric, garlic, and ginger).[10]

In Bali, the mixed rice is called nasi campur Bali or simply nasi Bali. The Balinese nasi campur version of mixed rice may have grilled tuna, fried tofu, cucumber, spinach, tempe, beef cubes, vegetable curry, corn, chili sauce on the bed of rice. Mixed rice is often sold by street vendors, wrapped in a banana leaf.

Betutu is eaten in Bali as well as Lombok, and West Nusa Tenggara. It is a roasted poultry dish (chicken or duck) with spices. Lawar is a traditional vegetable and meat dish in Bali Vegetable and meat dish served with rice. It consists of shredded unripe jackfruit, young banana flower, a liberal amount of pork rind bits, raw pig blood. These are mashed with herbs such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and garlic. Babi guling is a Balinese-style roast pork comparable to Hawaiian luau-style pig.

Other common Indonesian dishes are easily found, such as tempe and tofu are used. Sambal dishes are also served. Bakso, a meatball or meat paste made from beef surimi, can also be found.

List of dishes

Balinese Babi guling or roasted suckling pig
  • Babi guling, roasted suckling pig, famous in Bali
  • Betutu, steamed or roasted poultry (chicken or duck) highly seasoned. A specialty of Bali and Lombok
  • , rice porridge with palm sugar sauce and grated coconut.
  • (black rice pudding), black sticky rice with coconut milk.
  • , packages of sticky rice, coconut, sugar and fruit (often bananas or sometimes orange rind or even mango essence).
  • , steamed cakes from rice flour mixed with Waluh (Balinese word for pumpkin) wrapped in banana leaves
  • , steamed cakes from rice flour with biu (Balinese word for banana) inside of it and wrapped with banana leaves
  • Iga Babi, Balinese pork ribs
  • Kopi luwak (luwak coffee), also called civet coffee or “poo coffee”. It is named after the practice of weasel-like animals called civets let loose into coffee plantations at night to eat coffee berries then defecate out the coffee beans which are collected, washed and roasted over a fire.[5]
  • Lawar, mixed vegetables and other ingredients
  • Nasi Bali, rice with various dishes
  • Sate Babi (pork satay)
  • Rawon babi, pork spicy stew similar to East Javanese rawon. This Balinese pork version however, is not using any keluak, thus the soup color is not black but rather light brownish grey instead.[11] This meat soup is usually served to accompany nasi bali or babi guling.
  • Sate Lilit, spiced mince meat on a stick
  • Soto Babi, pork soto
  • Sayur Urab, mixed salad
  • Bumbu Bali, Balinese spice of basa genep, commonly used as flavouring agent for chicken, fish or meat. Ayam bumbu Bali means chicken in Balinese spice mixture.
  • Terang Bulan (dessert) A sweet, thick pancake mostly sold by street vendors in the evening with different fillings like condensed milk, chocolate sprinkles, crushed peanuts and cheese. Sometimes called Martabak Manis, however in Bali martabak often refers to a fried roti filled with shredded chicken and eggs so terang bulan is more commonly used, especially in the central regions around Ubud. Often, vendors will sell both.


Brem a Balinese rice wine

Balinese coffee, Kopi Bali, and hot tea, teh panas are popular. Tea is often served with sugar (gula) and condensed milk, susu.[4] Brem is Balinese rice wine alcoholic beverage. It is made from fermented mash of black or white glutinous rice (known as Ketan) using a dry-starter, which called as Ragi tape.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Flavours of Indonesia, Balinese Food". Destination Asia. Archived from the original on 17 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Vivienne Kruger (2014). Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine & Food Culture of Bali. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9781462914234.
  3. ^ a b Miguel Covarrubias (2015). Island of Bali, Periplus classics. Tuttle Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 9781462917471.
  4. ^ a b c "Bali: The Online Travel Guide - Food". Archived from the original on 2013-07-30. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  5. ^ a b Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott (2011-07-22). "Bali Food (An Overview of Cuisine in Bali)". Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  6. ^ "Guide to tropical fruits in Bali". Bali Blog. 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  7. ^ Bali: A Day At The Market And Cooking Class
  8. ^ O’Gilvie, Diana (14 October 2012). "Learning Bali's true flavors". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  9. ^ Betteridge, Ashlee (Apr 2, 2010). "Nasi Campur: Rice With a Side of Serendipity". Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  10. ^ a b [Traditional Balines Foods] Ehow
  11. ^ "1 resep rawon babi enak dan sederhana". Cookpad (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  12. ^ Bali[permanent dead link].;

Further reading

  • Bali Unveiled: The Secrets of Balinese Cuisine - Heinz Von Holzen. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  • Street Foods of Bali - Heinz von Holzen. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  • Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia. Eleanor Ford. (Murdoch Books, 2019)
  • Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine and Food Culture of Bali. Dr. Vivienne Kruger, Ph.D. (Tuttle Publishing, April 2014)
  • Forty Delicious Years 1974-2014. Murni's Warung, Ubud, Bali: From Toasted Sandwiches to Balinese Smoked Duck. By Jonathan Copeland, Rob Goodfellow, and Peter O'Neill (Orchid Press, Jun 1, 2014)
  • Secrets of Bali, Fresh Light on the Morning of the World, Jonathan Copeland and Ni Wayan Murni,(Orchid Press, September 2010)

External links