Unless you have been living under a rock, you must have heard of an island named Bali in Indonesia. Yes! Nowadays, Bali is truly one of the most popular places for tourists, not only due to its white sandy beaches, but also because of its beautiful landscape and the unique traditions of its people. Moreover, Bali is also the home for many food delicacies!
1. Suckling pig: the number one food of Bali
Ask someone who have been to Bali about the number one most popular food in Bali, and you will get an undisputable answer: Suckling Pig! Originating from the Gianyar area, and also known as ‘babi guling’ in Indonesian, it’s the crispiest pig in the world! It’s the roasted whole pork stuffed with yam leaves and some traditional seasonings, like galingale and hazelnuts, before the crispy skin and savory meat is cut, sliced, and shredded into pieces to be served with rice and other side dishes like lawar (veggies cooked in coconut milk). Originally cooked only for ceremonial purposes in the ancient times, now you can easily find it almost everywhere in Bali.
Recommended place to eat: For Bali’s most popular suckling pig, go to ‘Ibu Oka’ Warung in Ubud.
2. Flavorful ‘Betutu’ chicken
Another popular food is named ‘Ayam Betutu’, or ‘Roasted Chicken’. If you have eaten roasted chicken (or duck) somewhere else, you need to try this one while you are in Bali. Served with spicy kale, peanuts, and white rice, it is uniquely different from any other types of roasted chicken. They stuff the chicken’s belly with Balinese spices like coriander, turmeric, fermented shrimp paste (terasi), and galangal, before they wrap it in banana leaves and slowly roast it in an oven. This allows the chicken to become juicy, while the seasonings combine, bursting with flavors that are savory, a bit salty, and spicy.
Recommended place to eat: For the most popular betutu chicken in Bali, go to a restaurant named ‘Ayam Betutu Khas Gilimanuk’ (Gilimanuk’s Betutu Chicken) in Kuta.
3. ‘Serombotan’: the Balinese vegetable salad
Good news for vegetarians or salad lovers! If your salad mostly consists of lettuce, cucumber, carrot, and tomato, in Bali you will have ‘serombotan’, a type of salad believed to be originated in the Klungkung regency of Bali. Serombotan typically contains healthier and greener varieties of vegetables, such as kale, green beans, bean sprouts, spinach, and eggplant! Moreover, these veggies are more hygienic as they are boiled for just a minute or 2 before being served. While you are familiar with thousand-island or Italian dressings for your salad, in Bali they have ‘kalas’, which is made of coconut milk mixed with different Asian herbs (e.g. turmeric, coriander etc.), peanuts, and chili.
Recommended place to eat: Serombotan can be found easily almost anywhere in Bali, but go to ‘Warung Mertasari’ when you happen to be in Klungkung village, as not only is it popular for its serombotan, but also ‘sate lilit’.
4. Sate Lilit: the healthy satay
Many people love satay due to its tastiness (sweet, nutty, and savory) and aroma. You’ll find it’s different from Javanese satay, where chicken (or sometimes beef) is skewered before being grilled, sate lilit (coiled satay) is made of crushed meat (most of the time they use mackerel meat) and seasoned with spices, like shallots and hazelnuts, before the thick meaty dough is coiled on sticks of bamboo before being grilled. Also, instead of peanut gravy, they use ‘matah’, chili sauce with shallot. It’s truly a healthier version of sate. The satay often becomes a side dish to accompany many Balinese foods. For instance, when you order suckling pork somewhere, you will also get 1 or 2 sticks of sate lilit.
5. Nasi Jinggo: the street food
‘Jinggo’ rice (nasi jinggo) is the street food of Bali, where almost on every corner of the island you will find warungs (small dining places) selling this type of food. It’s rice coming with the side dishes of sweetened meat (chicken, beef, or pork), sweet tempeh (fried fermented soy), fried noodles, and chili sauce, wrapped in banana leaves. This is somewhat similar to the popular ‘nasi lemak’ (fast food) in Singapore / Malaysia, except that it’s wrapped in banana leaves and may come with pork.
Recommended place to eat: Jinggo rice is sold everywhere in Bali, but for a bigger portion of jinggo rice with larger chunks of pork, go to ‘Warung Bu Manik’ in Kuta.
Only in Bali
There are many more types of foods to try, most of which you can only find in Bali. If you can find an Indonesian restaurant somewhere in your country, you are not likely to find authentic Balinese cuisine. If there is, the taste won’t be the same as that in Bali, as most of the ingredients only grow in tropical lands, and may lose flavor along with a portion of their nutritional value when transported. Now that you know Bali is also a place for where you can hunt for unique, delicious foods, be sure you try them while visiting!
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