How to eat like a local in Bali, Indonesia

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

The problem with the island of Bali in Indonesia is that it’s an incredibly popular place. While huge swaths of the island remain unnoticed to visitors, the tourist trail traipses from Denpasar through Kuta, up to Ubud and Sanur and potentially to Lovina. These are all terrific places to visit, but there is so much more to Bali than those towns. And a natural by-product of tourist influx is a change in food offered by local restaurants. Instead of sticking to the Balinese fare, which differs from the food offered in the rest of Indonesia, restaurants often serve up a bland set of options: fried rice (nasi goreng), fried noodles (mee goreng) and some generalized vegetable and chicken dishes. 

Look a little further and you’ll be rewarded. Balinese food basics are fragrant and spice-filled – think pepper, coriander, cumin, clove, nutmeg, sesame seed, and candlenut. The food is often roasted in a bed of coconut husks and stuffed with curry mixtures that make your mouth water. 

8-spice mixture from Bali. Photo from Uncornered Market 

Travelers Dan and Audrey from the popular Uncornered Market blog spent several weeks in Bali and being as obsessed with food as I am, noticed right away that their meals were lacking in flavour. So they dug a little deeper and found out that the island had a lot great foods – they just needed to find out how the foods were made and where the locals ate.

In their own words:

And just when we were about to give up on Balinese food, we discovered the real deal in a cooking course – dishes full of intensity, beautiful flavors and a philosophy and technique that made us want to run to the kitchen and fire up the pan. This was authentic Balinese cuisine, done well, flavorful and unique.

From sate lilit, a uniquely Balinese dish of minced meat blended with spices and grilled on a lemongrass stalk (photo below) to bebek betutu (slow-roasted duck, cooked in banana leaves and fragrant with spice) to babi guling (one of my favourite dishes on the island, a melt-in-your-mouth roast pig served on a heaping plate with vegetables and crispy skin), their post covers everything you need to know about Balinese food – including where the locals eat it on the island.

Sate lillit in Bali. Photo from Uncornered Market 

And now I’m hungry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *