5 traditional Balinese foods you must try (at least once)
Tasty Balinese Cuisine, spicy, aromatic & super fiery
These Balinese dishes will tantalise your taste buds
If you are seeking an authentically Balinese experience on your holiday then you must try these 5 traditional Balinese foods. Once you’ve tried them in the local warung – why not visit the markets, pick up some fresh and local ingredients and cook up a storm in your private villas outdoor barbeque or kitchen.
If you get stuck along the way or are not too sure if you’ve managed to get the flavours quite right ask your friendly villa assistant to give you a hand. Try these local favourites and I’m sure you will be a Bali culinary convert wanting more.
Nasi Goreng is one of Indonesia’s most loved dishes. You’ll be able to find it on nearly every menu you come across in Bali. Traditionally Nasi Goreng was eaten as breakfast from leftover rice. Nasi Goreng literally means fried rice. Originally the recipe was developed as a way of not wasting any food.
The cold pre-cooked rice is cooked in oil and usually mixed with sweet soy sauce, shallots, garlic, tamarind and chilli. Nasi Goreng is completed with an additional protein; most famously a fried egg, other options include chicken or prawns.
For the best Nasi Goreng in Bali, you simply must go to the famous Warung Made in Legian. Take the family and have a great time. It’s a legendary restaurant and has been going strong for many years. If you opt for eating at the local warungs a Nasi Goreng will set you back around $5. So worth it if you have a hungry troop to feed. In the same style as Nasi Goreng try Mie Goreng. It’s exactly the same except with noodles. This is really popular with the kids and will keep them fed and happy for a long time. Easy and very quick to make most people have this as a snack to keep them tied over till dinner. Especially, if you have active kids on holidays who are always hungry.
Babi Guling – Suckling Pig
You don’t even need to browse the menu to discover that the Balinese love Babi Guling – Suckling Pig. Many a warung simply advertise their babi guling outside the café and this is all that is needed to attract customers. The Balinese really have this one down to fine art and you’ll taste some of the finest crackling imaginable.
This is the perfect dish to entertain your friends and family if you are enjoying one of our luxury villas with an outdoor BBQ.
Best places in Bali to try Babi Guling in Bali:
There must be hundreds of places but here are a few in the Seminyak, Ubud & Canggu area that are simply delicious
- Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen on Sunset Road
- Babi Guling Ibu Oka in Ubud
- Sari Kembar in Seminyak
Lawar is well known all over Bali and available in many Balinese restaurants. Lawar translates as ‘slice of meat’. This dish consists of mixed vegetables, chopped meat, vegetable slices and coconut milk.
There are various takes on Lawar it is one of those dishes that you can adapt to your preferences. It is usually cooked and eaten at religious ceremonies. Depending on the materials for cooking and composing the lawar, the taste and colour can turn out quite differently. For example, there is red lawar and white lawar, which is predominantly made up of coconut flesh, cream and green vegetables.
My personal favourite is Jack fruit Lawar. The jack fruit is braised in coconut cream and is the main focus of the dish. A delicious combination of sweet smooth and nutritious flavours.
Most of us are familiar with traditional Asian satay sauces – usually quite a peanut flavour. In Bali Satay is made from sea fish and meat. The fish meat is covered in green coconut spices and brown sugar. Once the meat is skewered it is then cooked on a ceramic grill over a combination of charcoal and dried coconut shell. It is a traditional food of the Tabanan region. So many restaurants will have satay on the menu and is generally served before the main meal.
“Bali Villa Escapes Tip: you will see many street vendors throughout Bali selling satay, be careful when buying this as it may have been sitting there for a long time. Make sure you buy it as soon as it’s off the little BBQ grill – this is the best way to eat the satay; fresh and hot with a bit of peanut and chilli sauce”.
Bebek Betutu is an explosion of flavour. It can be made with either steamed or roasted, chicken or duck and it is a classic Balinese ceremonial dish. For the real foodies travelling to Bali, you must try cooking this one in your villa. Make sure you give your chef or manager ample time to prepare this and shop for the ingredients.
Just want to add two more: Jamu Juice. This amazing elixir is made from turmeric and ginger and is sweetened with honey and tastes amazing. It’s used traditionally by the Balinese as herbal medicine but nowadays it has become commercialised and you can buy Jamu anywhere. Street vendors will sell it for about Rp 7000 or AUD 70 cents for a 500 ml bottle and you can pay up to Rp 60 000 or AUD $6 in a cafe. It tastes wonderful and if you believe that it works, well it just might do that for you. In any case, you’re helping the locals by buying it so it’s a win-win.
“Bali Villa Escapes Tip: make sure you have Jamu for breakfast – you’ll love it and it makes a great start to the day”.
Bakso is an Indonesian meatball and is hugely popular with locals and travellers looking for a super cheap meal. They put the meatballs in a soup broth with glass noodles, crackers and some tofu. It smells delicious and can feed you for about AUD $2. Whilst this dish is OK for locals who are used to it, I do caution newbies to Bali who wants to try this for the first time. It can be super spicey and the quality & hygiene in many cases might be questionable so be very careful!
There are loads more dishes you can try while on holiday in Bali. All you need to do is basically walk around and have a sticky beak into some local restaurants. I know you have all heard rumours and stories about eating from local vendors and the problems with Bali belly but most places are fine. They are all really popular, have fresh food and you’ll be totally fine.
If it looks busy then it’s OK. Obviously, go with your instinct but given the number of tourists in these areas and the fact that the locals rely on this trade, your meals will be healthy and really clean.
If you are unsure or scared to risk it speak to your villa or hotel staff who can advise you of the best places to eat local Balinese food.