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Bali has been one of my favourite destinations since my first visit to Indonesia as a teenager. I love its unique culture, colourful ceremonies and, of course, delicious Balinese food.
Balinese cuisine reflects the mainly Hindu population of the island but also borrows from the cooking traditions of nearby Java and as far afield as India. It can be spicy and but is always full of flavour.
Once visitors to Bali needed to venture away from the main resort areas to find local food. These days you can try local dishes almost anywhere – from local street food stalls called warung through to Michelin starred restaurants. You can even hire a chef to prepare you a feast at your favourite Bali vacation rentals.
So what foods should you try in Bali? And what are the main elements that make the food of Bali so delicious.
Learn all about it in our Bali food guide
Elements of Balinese cuisine
Staples of the cooking in Bali include rice, fish and pork as well as the tropical fruits and vegetables native to the island. What makes the cuisine unique is the use of pungent spice blends, fish paste, chilli and palm sugar.
Fresh galangal, ginger, turmeric and garlic are used alongside dried spices. Most people are familiar with the use of white and black pepper, coriander, cumin, and cloves in south east Asian cooking but in Bali the use of candlenut, nutmeg and sesame seeds is also common.
One of my favourite mainstays of Balinese cuisine are the sambals or spicy condiments made with a variety of chilli and other ingredients like coconut, tamarind and shrimp paste.
What to eat in Bali
Babi Guling (roast suckling pig)
Once saved for special ceremonies and occasions, babi guling is one of the most popular delicacies served in warungs and restaurants across Bali. The roasted pork meat comes with lawar (see below) and steamed rice, and is a staple food in almost all rituals and ceremonies.
Where to eat: Babi Guling Ibu Oka, Jalan Raya Teges Peliatan, Ubud
Rujak Buah is another traditional Balinese dish. Similar to fruit salad, the dish consists mainly of raw mango, pineapple, cucumber, and papaya. It is served with a spicy sweet and sour dressing of ground chilli, peanuts and palm sugar.
Want to know more about exotic fruits – click here
In Indonesian, gado gado means mix mix which is an apt name for this warm salad. Made with slightly steamed vegetables, tempeh, boiled potatoes and hard boiled eggs, the salad is served with a spicy peanut sauce and crispy fried shallots.