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Let's explore Balinese Cuisine!

Distinct cuisine

Balinese cuisine is very distinct from the rest of Indonesian cuisine because the island's inhabitants are predominantly Hindu and that has influenced their culinary traditions. They have festivals and religious celebrations that include many special foods.

Steamed rice, at the heart of Balinese cuisine

Steamed rice is commonly consumed in every meal as rice agriculture is so very important in Balinese's culture. You may have had the chance to admire the beautiful terrace paddy fields with an intricate irrigation system (the Subak system that has been in use for at least 1000 years) between the paddy fields and the villages.


Spices and herbs specific to Balinese cuisine

Here are some of the Balinese herbs and spices used (from :

  • Garlic (bawang putih) – add delicious aroma and depth of flavor

  • Shallots (bawang merah) – often combined with garlic, used for onion-based dishes, mostly used independently for making 'sambal'

  • Lemongrass (sereh) – widely used in many dishes even in the tea

  • Kaffir lime leaves (daun jeruk) – commonly used in lemongrass or coconut milk-based dishes

  • Bay leaves or salam leaves (daun salam) – traditionally used to add more flavors to the meat-based dishes

  • Ginger (jahe)

  • Galanga – whiter flesh and less strong aroma compared to ginger

  • Turmeric - that gives a beautiful yellow colour to curries


In addition, Balinese cooking use a lot of:

  • Tamarind paste which is made from a sour, dark, sticky fruit that grows in a pod on a tamarind tree. Used mostly in savory dishes for an unique tangy taste.

  • Coconut in all forms

Tempeh, created by Indonesians

(source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh)



For plant-based lovers, Balinese cuisine can be easily changed into vegan/vegetarian recipes. The main source of proteins can be tempeh.


Tempeh or tempe is a traditional Indonesian soy product that is made from fermented soybeans. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled The fermentation binds the soybeans into a cake form.A fungus, Rhizopus oligosporus, is used in the fermentation process and is also known as tempeh starter.


It is especially popular on the island of Java where it is a staple for proteins. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, fiber and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavour which becomes more pronounced as it ages. The best way to enjoy tempeh is to marinade overnight and grill or stir fry.


Hope that I inspire you to explore Balinese cuisine.


Selamat Makan!



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