Today we are featuring our very first guest blog from a fellow blogger! Say helllo to Sarah! Sarah is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist (CNP) and Wellness Coach who loves teaching people how to maintain healthy lifestyles through proper food & nutrition. She also has a love of travelling the world like I do! I’m so excited to be partnering with this beautiful soul to provide you with great content!
BALI …. one of the most beautiful islands in the world, located in the middle of Indonesia and that saw a quick rise in popularity with the general population after the launch of the book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert and the movie that came out after it. Given my love for that book and the very special place that this island holds in my heart, it was only natural that Bali became our first destination while travelling throughout South East Asia. It has now been almost a month that we set foot on this beautiful island and what an adventure it has been! I was so eager to arrive on this peaceful island, full of beauty, spirituality, colours and luscious Nature. And as expected, Bali did not disappoint. There is so much information online about what to see or what to do while visiting Bali for the first time: from the more physical activities such as surfing, diving, swimming, hiking (for the more adventurous souls) to the more relaxing activities such as strolling around the streets, visiting temples or simply relaxing on the beach; you can have it all over here and for a really good price too! You can find many useful articles online to guide your choices. So, I will spare you my own version of it and instead, what I want to share with you today is my culinary experience while visiting Bali.
As a Holistic Nutritionist and professional foodie, I could not wait to discover the taste and look of real Balinese foods. Every day was a new culinary adventure for me and given how affordable (read: cheap!) food is here, I was in heaven. Not only is the food always freshly prepared using fresh ingredients, but it also is very diverse and very pleasing to all of your senses. In sum, the Balinese gastronomy did not disappoint either! Though, there are a lot of different dishes to try, I chose to highlight and share with you today: 10 Delicious Foods And Drinks You Must Try in Bali. If you ever visit this gorgeous island, refer back to this post and let me know in the comments what you think of them.
So without further ado, here are:
10 Delicious Foods And Drinks You Must Try in Bali
1/ Nasi Goreng
One of the most popular meal you can find at any local warung (dining restaurant) here in Bali. Simply put, it is the Balinese version of Fried Rice. It is made with rice, vegetables (super tasty as they are never overcooked, which preserves their nutritional value a lot more) and your choice of protein (seafood, meat –Ayam or chicken being one of the most popular sources of protein in the Balinese diet). But you can also easily find delicious vegetarian options or even vegan ones (simply ask this dish with no fried egg on top). The Nasi Goreng was one of my favourite Balinese dishes because of its flavour (the spices were always on point) and also because of its price, héhé. Think maximum $2.5 for a plate like this:
2/ Fresh Coconut
Of course, I am including this delicious super food in my top 10! Fresh young coconuts are EVERYWHERE here for your biggest pleasure and delight! They get them fresh from the trees and sell them pretty much any where for 10,000 RP to 25,000 RP (i.e.: $1 to $2.5). Yes, you read that right! So you bet that I had my fare count of fresh coconuts while here. You will distinguish the fresh young coconuts from older ones because of their “meat” (white part inside). The young coconut (my favourite kind) has a very gel-like and soft white (or clear) meat inside (see picture below), while the old coconut has thicker and harder meat inside. The water inside the coconut is what most tourists consume and then they often discard the rest. Please, please, please: ask the seller to break it in half for you (when you’re done enjoying the coconut water) or to give you a spoon so you can eat the meat inside. It is so tasty and a very good source of healthy fat and fuel for your body.
3/ Gado Gado
Gado, gado was probably one of the first dishes that we tried while in Bali. It is one of the most popular vegetarian and even vegan option here (again if you ask with no hard-boiled egg). It is a delicious dish made of mainly vegetables (greens, cucumbers, carrots, soy sprouts and cabbage) water-sautéed or cooked with vapor and a thick peanut buttery sauce on top. It is served with rice and is absolutely delicious and really fresh. The peanut butter-base sauce is really tasty and not over-empowering. At least, it was my experience of it. Try it out for yourself. Oh and price-wise, it is usually on the cheaper side once again: for 18,000 RP- 22,000 RP, i.e.: $1.8- $2.2 AUD. Enjoy!
4/ Tempe Manis
Another fact about the Balinese gastronomy is that you will find tempe EVERYWHERE! I was so surprised by that as in the West, tempe is often unknown and not really offered unless you go to a vegan restaurant. Here, it is a part of the traditional Balinese foods. And they create delicious dishes with it. Tempe Manis was definitely one of my absolute favourite way to consume tempe while in Bali. It is basically fried tempe with some sweet soy sauce, garlic and chili. Because it is a fried food- it is better to enjoy it with moderation. Not be eaten every day type of food, but you sure can enjoy it a few times per week as a nice vegan/vegetarian options. It can be eaten as an appetizer on its own or as your main meal served with rice, vegetables, sauce and your choice of protein (plant-based or not). But given that tempe is a really high source of protein, you can be fine with eating it on its own.
And here is another example of the tempe manis, which I had eaten with some fresh greens, potatoes, black rice and one hard-boiled egg. It was a delicious meal and only 25,000 RP (i.e. $2.5 AUD).
5/ Tumis KangKung
This was defintely a pleasant surprise for me the first time I enjoyed this dish. All that the menu description said was: “Indonesian Vegetable”. So indeed, it was not super descriptive, yet I had peeked at my neighbor’s plate and all I could see what a big plate full of greens! Now, if you know me, you know that I thoroughly enjoy my green vegetables, especially the leafy greens. So I was sold. And after receiving my plate, I am so glad I picked this dish. It was very simply flavoured and water-sautéed simply with lots of garlic & ginger (two excellent spices for your immune system and your digestive system), a bit of salt and pepper. But oh my, it was delicious and the leafy greens were fresh and still crunchy yet soft as well. They also had retained their beautiful color, which is always a great indication that your veggies are still full of vitamins and minerals. So Tumis Kangkung is number 5 on your top 10. Try it out!
This dish or rather condiment is not for the faint of heart.. Indeed, sambal is VERY hot and spicy (especially if home made) tomato-base condiment, which you can enjoy with all of your meals. It is a typical Balinese condiment that you will find at every “warung”, either in a bottle (be careful not to confuse it with tomato sauce or ketchup!) or served on the side of your plate. The first time, I had some, I almost died, haha. Okay, I am exaggerating a little bit but this is just to warn you that you want to use only a little bit of it at a time and only if you are used to hot and spicy foods. I love hot and spicy but Sambal is to be consumed with moderation. Nevertheless, I am including it in my top 10 as I will never forget it. Especially the homemade sambal, I got to taste from a Balinese woman who made it right in front of me, while we were staying in her home with her husband. The ingredients were really simple: freshly chopped small onions, lots of garlic, fresh chili peppers, tomatoes, and some salt. That’s it.
She cooked everything onto the pan with some oil and a few minutes later: the sambal was ready for us to enjoy. Dian, thank you for showing me how to make this amazing condiment. I will definitely try it at home.
When in Bali, you will notice that banana leaves are very often used in the traditional cooking of their dishes. Pepes tuna is a dish that is made of fresh tuna cooked with all of its spices and condiments in a banana leaf. It is absolutely delicious and full of flavour. The banana leaf really allows for the fish to truly absord all of the spices in which it has been cooked, which makes is extra flavourful, tender and soft. I usually consumed plant-based proteins as much as possible, but when it comes to fresh fish cooked with fresh ingredients, I will make an exception. And so pepes tuna makes it in my top 10 as well. See for yourself.
8/ Sayur Hijau
This delicious vegetable broth-like dish was my last meal in Bali. We went to a local night market that had all sorts of food stands. I am so happy I chose this dish. Indeed, I was looking for a meal that contained mainly leafy green vegetables. Sayur Hijau answered my calling perfectly. This dish is made of fresh vegetables, mainly leafy greens, Chinese broccoli, carrots, cabbage water-sautéed with the addition of one egg and sometimes also a few pieces of minced chicken (which you can ask not to include to keep this dish vegetarian). Sayur Hijau is served with some rice on the side too. I felt full after that big portion, yet not heavy. The perfect way to get your daily intake of fresh greens into your diet. I highly recommend you try the Night Markets in Bali. There are full of local dishes, which you would not find in the local restaurants and you get to meet and interact with local people as well. Oh and this delicious meal costs 15,000 RP or $1.5 AUD.
9/ Avocado Juice
Another food that is very popular in Bali is the avocado “juice”, and by juice they mean thick smoothie, given the texture of the creamy avocado. They basically blend one avocado with water and coconut palm sugar and the result is delicious and refreshing. It yields a very refreshing (due to the ice used as well), creamy and satisfying sweet drink that I would highly recommend for you try. You will not be disappointed. Most people think of avocado as a savoury food but I have enjoyed avocados in my smoothies and desserts for a few years now, so this avocado juice was a perfect reminder of how good avocado is when consumed sweet.
10/ Kunyit Asam
This popular Jamu (traditional Indonesian herbal medicine) drink was first introduced to me while visiting Ubud. That night I was suffering from a bit of an upset stomach and so I was looking for a drink that would take my discomfort away. In comes Kunyit (Turmeric) Asam (Tamarind). This very traditional Indonesian drink is made of freshly crushed and juiced tamarind and turmeric roots. The juices of these two roots are then mixed with water (hot or cold) and with honey. It is pretty concentrated but really delicious and super soothing if you every experience some digestive discomfort. Turmeric is known to be highly anti-inflammatory, while tamarind, which is rich in vitamin C (i.e. antioxidants too), can help relieve menstrual discomforts, has a gentle laxative effect on the body and can also help alleviate nausea. Oh how I love Nature. Once you get to know her, she always provides with everything you need and more…
That’s it for now, folks. I hope you my culinary adventures while in Bali and that enjoyed this post.
Terima Kasih! (Thank you)
Sarah @ Deliciously Vibrant
Photo Credit: DMA International