Regarded as one of the most picturesque islands in the world, Bali in Indonesia is renowned for its ancient culture, stunning beaches, breathtaking waterfalls, exotic temples, volcanic mountains, striking natural beauty, and rustic villages. After a long day of exploring some of the best Bali tourist places, you’ll probably be starving. Luckily, the tropical island of Bali is home to an array of Asian flavours that comes in all shapes and forms. So, skip the beachside burger spot and grab a bowl of noodles from a street cart or some grilled skewers from a roadside stall and get to know the local traditional food that nourishes the local communities. Here is our list of some of the best local foods that one must try in Bali as it will help you navigate this new world of Balinese cuisine as part of your Bali tour packages.
Sate / Satay
Sate or Satay is a marinated, skewered and grilled meat usually made using chicken, goat, beef, or pork. It is one of the popular street foods that one must try while in Bali. Sate Lilit is the most famous Bali version of this snack-on-a-sticks where the meat or fish is marinated in coconut milk and a rich blend of vegetables and spices. Then the sliced meat is wrapped around bamboo, sugarcane, or lemongrass sticks before it’s grilled over charcoal. This is the perfect balance of moist, spicy, and sweet-savory and is best enjoyed with spicy sauce. If you are a foodie, then don’t miss this delicious dish during your Bali Trip and it is available in almost all the restaurants.
Another amazing and unique Balinese delicacy, Bebek Betutu was once the king’s favorite meal that is prepared in a very sophisticated way. With a preparation time of at least eight hours, it is the slow-cooked equivalent of Bali’s Babi Guling (roast suckling pig). A whole chicken or duck is rubbed with a spice paste called bumbu which is a hand-ground mixture of fresh herbs, aromatics, dried spices, and shrimp paste. Then, it is wrapped in banana leaves, and slowly steamed in a coal fire for about 6 – 7 hours which results in a rich and juicy flavor in every bite. It is one of the must-try dishes in Bali. This amazing Balinese delicacy is very spicy and is suitable for those who don’t eat pork.
Babi Guling is one of Bali’s most famed dishes that is often served during cultural performances or ceremonies. The name of the dish is derived from how the pork (babi) is slowly rolled (guling) above the fire. This Balinese favourite dish is made of a whole pig marinated in rich traditional spices and roasted vegetable mixes such as cassava leaves, and then slowly rolled over a coal fire. This dish has become Bali’s staple food for Indonesians and foreign tourists, and one can find this amazing delicacy at food stalls and restaurants throughout the island. The most popular place to try Babi Guling is Ibu Oka in Ubud.
A trip to Bali is incomplete without tasting Nasi Campur. The word campur means mix in English, and the dish comes with a scoop of rice and a mixture of small portioned side dishes. It is one of the popular traditional dishes loved by the Balinese people of Indonesia. This dish is typically served with vegetable salad (urap), shredded meat, and sate lilit (Bali’s signature food). Nasi Campur comes in three variants – Nasi Campur Babi (pork), Nasi Campur Ayam (chicken), and Nasi Campur Pedas (spicy). One of the popular places to try this dish is in Kuta at a restaurant called Nook.
Lawar which translates roughly to “finely chopped”, is a traditional Balinese dish with a mix of finely chopped meat(beef, chicken, duck, or pork), vegetables, grated coconut, and spices. Although this salad-like dish is mostly prepared with vegetables, its flavor gets a helping hand from ground meat that is traditionally steamed in banana leaves. There are two types of Lawar – the red version which is prepared by mixing fresh animal blood with meat and spices to strengthen the flavor, and the white version often substituting meat with jackfruit. It may sound simple, but is an absolute powerhouse of fresh flavor, thanks to the bumbu base. This dish is readily available in many Warungs around the island.
Gado Gado is an Indonesian version of the salad and is one of the must-try for every food lover while in Bali. It is one of the Balinese vegetarian options for vegans. This salad is a mix of boiled long beans, spinach, potato, corn, egg, and bean sprouts coupled with cucumber, tofu, and tempe. This salad is best served with classic peanut sauce that makes the salad a little sweet, salty, and spicy. This is one of those meals that doesn’t compromise on the delicious and fun factors for it to be healthy.
Typically accompanied by lime or lemon wedges, Pepes Ikan is a typical Indonesian side dish in which a whole marinated fish is wrapped in a banana leaf and then steamed or grilled on charcoal. Popular throughout the Indonesian archipelago, the whole fish is coated in a spice paste made with turmeric, candlenuts or macadamia, tomatoes, shrimp paste, palm sugar, lemon basil, tamarind, lemongrass, and chili peppers. It can be made using any fish but the most common fish that are used are sardines, snappers, and mackerel. The variations of this food are found throughout East Timor and Indonesia, but the most popular variety is Pepe Ikan, made with carp.
Laklak is a traditional Balinese rice cake that is made using rice flour. It is one of the traditional Balinese dishes that you can’t miss when you are holidaying in Bali. Laklak usually comes in two colors, white and green. Pandan leaves are used to give it a green color and a light aroma that makes this dish even more irresistible taste. With a savory taste and a smooth texture, Laklak is usually served with grated coconut sprinkled on the surface of the snack, which is soft and is then doused with a slightly thick solution of brown sugar, then wrapped in banana leaves. It is often eaten for breakfast but it is also a great snack that can be eaten any time of the day. It is hard to find in big cities however one can find this rice cake in traditional markets around the island.
Bubur Sumsum is a sweet and salty Indonesian desert that can be eaten for breakfast or as a snack. This pudding is made out of coconut milk, rice flour, and topped with palm sugar syrup. Sometimes, sweet potato dumplings are served that add a nice chewy texture to the dish. If you have a sweet tooth, then you must try this dessert dish during your Bali Tour.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.