In recent years, Bali has become of the most popular holidaying destinations in Indonesia. Depending on where you go in Bali, it can be an eye-opening cultural adventure, where dining out has been a recent development. Local dishes have a blend of homemade food and also an essence of Balinese cuisine. The local dishes are easily found in Warungs (Local Bali Food Shops) which are so delicious that you’ll just love them!
14 Local Food items you Must Try out in Bali
1. Babi Guling
Bali’s most famed dish is Suckling pig. Babi Guling, the marinated rotisserie pig famous in Bali is marinated in the spicy paste of turmeric, galangal, chilli, ginger, garlic, shallot, and more that is roasted over burning coffee wood. It is usually served with rice, pork sausage, sayur urap, along with the crunchiest meat- that is cooked with perfection. Combinations of lemongrass, salam leaves, black pepper and other herbs are also used to make the dish, tastier. A must-try if you want the real Balinese spices crispy porky fatty goodness.
It is a Bali dish created from a crunchy, tender mixture of vegetables, grated coconut meat, and minced meat, mixed with various herbs and spices. As called by the Balinese people, it is also known as meat salad. Not for the faint-hearted, for this dish includes fresh blood to strengthen the flavour that makes it one of the most consumed Balinese dishes. Served on top of a banana leaf, Lawar is immediately served for it cannot be kept for too long, this dish is usually accompanied by Babi Guling. There are mainly two types of Lawar, red and white.
3. Bebek Betutu
Bebek Betutu is probably the most iconic and unique dish Bali provides. It is a ceremonial dish that takes a long time to get prepared so one has to order it in advance. Local ducks are rubbed with tamarind puree and stuffed with veggies along with traditional spices wrapped with banana leaves or areca palm leaf smoked with the embers of rice husks for about 24 hours. Infused with spices, this menu set is also accompanied by 2 types of sambal so you can balance to your liking. It is a rich, juicy, succulent feast with all meat easily separated from bones.
4. Spring rolls
Who doesn’t love crunchy spring rolls? The spring rolls that are found in Bali are quite different from the normal spring rolls. They are crispy deep-fried snacks filled with delicious stuffings, including meat and minced chicken filled with mixed vegetables and traditional spices. Spring rolls are a popular Asian snack that is eaten before meals. It is usually served with chilli sauce or peanut sauce. In order to make it spicier, one can add schezwan sauce. It can be found at any snack store in Bali very easily. So yummy, you’ll definitely want to have more!
Satay is one of the most consumed local dishes by the visitors, also known as ‘kebabs.’ Satay is actually more diverse than what people think. Satay is prepared by cutting either meat or chicken or goat or beef or pork, cut into thin slices and marinated with spices like chilli, turmeric, ginger and other traditional herbs. The meat is then skewered over wooden sticks or grilled over charcoal sticks. Satay can be served with various sauces, one of the best being the peanut mixed with soy. One should definitely try this if they like kebabs that are loaded with spices.
6. Bubur Sumsum
Also known as Coconut rice porridge, this dish is for people who have a sweet tooth. Eaten usually as a dessert, it can also be served during breakfast or as a snack too. The ingredients are white and black glutinous rice and coconut milk along with pandan leaves. The rice flour and coconut milk are cooked until thickened and then chilled. The Bubur itself is a little bit salty, complemented by the sweetness of Gula Jawa. Well, this dish teaches us that not all desserts are supposed to be sweet, some can be salty too. The best part is that it is very easy to make.
7. Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. It has a strong aroma of nuts and chocolates, a rich and “heavy” taste, a dense, aromatic texture. Also known as civet coffee, it tastes really fresh and slightly smoother than usual coffee, due to the fermentation process, it also tastes a little bitter. The best part? It comes with several health benefits and no wonder why this is the most expensive coffee in Bali but is also a must-try.
It is a traditional Balinese salad made with blanched vegetables, grated coconut, and a chilli-spiked dressing. Many tourists will find that Balinese cuisine is dominated by meat like pork and chicken. But when it comes to vegetables, Balinese people can make some mouth-watering dishes. It consists of various vegetables and legumes like beans, sprouts, cabbage, spinach and cassava leaves which are either steamed or raw. It is eaten as a side dish to the main course. It is a vegetarian-friendly dish loaded with flavours and nutrients.
9. Tahu Tempe
It is one of the ‘must-haves’ on the menus of Bali and originally originated in Indonesia. It is naturally made by culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Fermented soybean, long beans, and spices are simmered in an aromatic coconut-based gravy to perfection, this is so delicious when served along with steamed rice. A protein-rich, dietary fibre and a vitamin-rich vegetarian dish that is cooked in various sweet seasoned spices which have quite different forms, it has amazing textural qualities along with an earthy flavour.
10. Bubur Mengguh
A porridge or you could say a culinary porridge that is supposed to be compulsorily served at all the indigenous ceremonies, is made of rice, coconut milk, and various spices. It is served with shredded chicken, sprinkled with sedri leaves, chicken broth, crackers and fried onions. The porridge is topped with a liquid mixture made of spices, roasted peanuts and celery. Warm, freshly cooked Bubur Mengguh is a perfect dish for breakfast on a rainy day. The flavour is complete, savoury and somewhat spicy combined with crispy veggies.
Well, do you know what the Balinese called their round pancakes? They call it Laklak. A traditional Balinese dessert made out of rice flour, it comes in two colours- white and green. Pandan leaves are added to the dough to make it look green and also gives a fresh aroma to the cake. When it is ready, shredded coconut and palm sugar are added as a topping which gives it a sweet and delicious taste. They’re usually cooked in the pan during breakfast, and served hot and fresh. Why would you not try some green pancakes when in Bali?
12. Pisang Goreng
Nothing is sweeter than a combination of bananas and flour. Bali has a wide variety of bananas from the small, sweet varieties to the large ones that look like a weapon. Bananas are cut into slices and little pieces, then it is mixed into the dough. After the bananas are battered, they are deep-fried in ample palm oil. The street vendors will usually sell them with toppings if asked by the customer, for e.g- some vendors even add cinnamon or vanilla extract. They’re best-served piping hot that just melt in your mouth and will taste amazing with a bowl of ice cream alongside.
A traditional and signature Balinese drink – it is basically a green jelly drink made from the leaves of a plant that are brought from China, put in fresh coconut milk mixed with palm sugar and topped with some ice cubes. The leaves are squeezed until foamy and thick and then filtered carefully. It is a veritable pot of sweetness that has three layers- green colour due to jelly, a second caramel honey-hue coloured layer due to coconut milk, and golden brown at the bottom due to brown sugar. Soothing mint leaves are added for garnishing.
Balinese people have a secret drink that they consume to balance their bodies. Loloh is a kind of drink made of leaves like cem-cem, betel, jatropha, dadap and ingredients like honey or young coconut, cinnamon, palm sugar, and coconut water. Balinese usually drink this for treating health ailments and is known for therapeutic benefits. Though it is a herbal drink, these ingredients when combined together are also tasty. Local shops serve this drink at a cheap rate and is usually a drink that is consumed after a meal which helps to digest the food.