Traditional Food In Bali, Indonesia

traditional food in bali

Whether you are heading to Bali for a yoga or meditation retreat, or just to explore and enjoy the gorgeous beaches and colorful coral reefs, this Indonesian island is a little bit of paradise. Besides the beaches, the island is known for its beautiful, lush green rice paddies and scenic volcanic mountains. There are also religious sites to explore, including the Uluwatu Temple. Visit the Pura Blanjong Temple in Sanur or head to the golden sand beach. Depending on your preferences, you can head to Kuta with its beach and lively bars, or you can choose Nusa Dua or Seminyak, all popular beach resorts on the island with plenty of nightlife to enjoy. While many of the restaurants serve international cuisine, it is always good to try out the traditional food in Bali, Indonesia, examples of which are listed below. These include a tasty vegetable salad, roasted duck, spicy pork sausage, stir-fried rice, turtle stew, the Bali version of satay street food and a couple of delicious desserts. Head to the markets, sample the street food and enjoy the spicy flavor of the traditional food in Bali.

1. Gado-Gado (vegetable salad)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sakurai Midori used under CC BY 3.0

Gado-Gado literally means potpourri or medley and is a typical Indonesian salad, consisting of lightly boiled, steamed or blanched seasonal and varied vegetables, depending on the time of year, along with boiled potato, lontong (rice served in a banana leaf), fried tofu and tempeh. The tasty dish is served with a peanut sauce and is said to be one of the five most important national dishes of Indonesia.

2. Bebek Betutu (roasted spicy duck)

Bebek tutu
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user casey yancey used under CC BY 2.0

Bebek Betutu is a spicy main dish consisting of roasted, steamed or smoked duck. This is a ceremonial dish in Bali, served when there are religious holidays or major celebrations, like weddings, deaths or births. The meat is spiced with bumbu - a mix of garlic, shallots, ginger, turmeric, galangal, chili peppers, shrimp paste, and peanuts, which is all ground together and then sautéed with coconut oil to bring out its aroma and wonderful spicy flavor. The spices are then added to the duck. A chicken version of this dish is also available in Bali, with the name Ayam Betutu.

3. Urutan (fermented, spicy pork sausage)

Urutan sausage served with a salad
Source: Pxhere

Urutan is a traditional type of dry pork sausage served in Bali, Indonesia. The sausage has a yellowish-brown coloring due to the added turmeric, one of the main ingredients. Other ingredients include Laos powder and aromatic ginger. The sausage is fermented, not smoked. The result is a tasty and spicy Eastern flavor. The sausages are served with a side dish of a variety of seasonal vegetables or fresh salads.

4. Nasi Goreng (stir-fried rice)

Nasi Goreng
Source: Pixabay

Nasi Goreng literally translates to “fried rice” and is a stir-fried rice dish cooked with a variety of meat or seafood (including chicken or prawns), seasonal vegetables and spices. Traditionally the spicy dish is also seasoned with a sweet soy sauce for extra flavor. The rice dish is often served with an accompaniment of salads.

5. Bubur Sumsum (coconut pudding)

Jenang Sumsum
Source: Photo by user Agus Yuniarso used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This tasty Burbur Sumsum, or coconut pudding, is made with rice flour and coconut milk and is then seasoned with salt, pandan leaves and Gula Java Brut (coconut blossom sugar). The resulting pudding is thick and porridge-like and the sweet, creamy coconut flavor is simply delicious. Burbur Sumsum is found in many restaurants on the island and on street markets.

6. Serapah Penyu (turtle stew)

Turtle stew
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user タクナワン used under CC0

Serapah Penyu is a special type of turtle stew which is only served on ritual occasions, such as weddings, births, Kuningan (a ceremony to mark the end of the Gaungan holiday), Galungan (a holiday which celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma) or a cremation ceremony. The turtle is removed from its shell and cooked with a variety of herbs and spices, including chilli, and is then placed on the grill before slicing and serving.There is usually an accompanying salad or vegetable dish.

7. Sate Lembat (meat on a skewer)

Sate Lembat
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ians Takezo used under CC BY 2.0

Sate Lembat is Bali’s version of satay and is served as street food in the Betawi community. The sate is made from minced meat (pork or chicken) mixed with spices and grated coconut and wrapped around a bamboo skewer. It is then barbecued on a grill over hot coals until cooked through. This tasty snack is available as a street food item and is often found in the markets of Bali in varied versions. The delicious dish is also served in restaurants in Bali, on the street or in the markets. Sate is also served in different variations and with different names in other regions of Bali.

8. Sambal Matah (spicy sauce)

Sambal Matah
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Midori used under CC BY 3.0

Sambal is a spicy sauce that comes in several variations depending on the region in Bali and Indonesia. However, the sauce is normally made from crushing chili to extract the juice, as well as salt and shrimp paste, giving a spicy flavor to a variety of dishes on the island.

9. Tape Ketan (cake/dessert)

Tape uli ketan hitam
Source: Photo by user Eliza Adam used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Tape Ketan is a type of cake dessert served in Bali on ceremonial days. It is cooked using black or white glutinous rice which is fermented using ragi (yeast). The rice is wrapped in banana leaves and left for three to four days for the fermentation process to complete. The dish is then served as a dessert or snack and has a distinctive acidic, sweet and sour taste, making it somewhat of an acquired taste. It is often served with a variety of other snacks at ceremonies on the island.

10. Jukut Ares (vegetable stew)

Jukut Ares is a vegetable dish cooked with a young banana stem in a savory broth. It is often served at ceremonial events, such as weddings, births, deaths and religious events, but is also available at street stalls serving Balinese food. While the main ingredient is vegetables, the Balinese do enhance the flavor​ with pork, chicken, duck or beef to suit every taste.

Enjoy the tastes of Bali, Indonesia!

While exploring this lush and beautiful island, stop at the street markets and visit the many restaurants to experience the real, traditional taste of Bali, Indonesia.

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Anne Sewell was born in England, but has spent most of her life in Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa - and now resides on the beautiful Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She loves writing...Read more

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