Balinese cuisine is the traditional food of the volcanic island of Bali, demonstrating indigenous traditions. It is also influenced by Indonesian regional cuisine, as well as Chinese and Indian culture. Apart from a variety of spices blended with the freshest of vegetables, fish or meat, rice is generally a staple ingredient in all meals. Chicken, pork and seafood are at large, but being a Hindu nation, beef is never or very rarely consumed by traditional locals, but is readily available for tourists. If travelling the world for food is your kryptonite, then we think Bali might just be your next stop.
Food not to be missed in Bali
Bali might have some of the best surfing spots in the world, unmatched sunsets and unbelievably priced accommodation, however, none of this can top the fact that Bali is known to have one of the best cuisines in the world. From fine dining to local eateries and street food, you’ll struggle to have a bad meal during your visit. Whether dining in a warung (local eatery) or at one of Bali’s finest, you’ll find our list of must-try Bali foods very handy.
1. Satay (sate)
Visibly recognised as a variety of marinated meat on a sugar cane or bamboo stick, satay or commonly known by the locals as ‘sate’, is a meal or snack served with rice and accompanied by delicious freshly-made sauces. Prepared on hot coals at a warung or market right under your nose, you’ll have your pick of chicken, pork, fish or beef.
2. Mie Goreng (Mee Goreng)
Mie Goreng could easily be your daily staple. A quick but filling meal of fried noodles prepared with your choice of vegetables, chicken, prawns or pork. The pickled veg and cucumber on the side are not just for decoration. It all adds to the delicious flavours of this simple meal.
3. Nasi Goreng
Another favourite! A similar concept to the Mei Goreng but rather a flavoured spicy rice version. You’ll want to have it with the fried egg (unless you’re vegan), it’s the cherry on top. Nasi Goreng can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Throw in one or two sate of your preference and you have yourself a full and delicious meal keeping you satisfied for hours while you set off on adventure.
4. Nasi Ayam and Nasi Campur
Why not try a bit of everything? Nasi Ayam (Bali’s version of the Chinese chicken rice) or Nasi Campur which means “mixed rice” is a great meal to share with a friend and to get a taste of a variety of Balinese titbits. The basis of the meal is steamed rice which is accompanied by an assortment of vegetables and chicken, and spicy sambals and sauces. Some may even throw in a bowl of soup for a fuller meal. Bali food really provides a little something for everyone.
5. Jimbaran Seafood
The famous Jimbaran seafood. You simply cannot go to Bali and not make your way to Jimbaran to sample the fresh seafood that the region is known for. Fine dining and local eateries make up what seems like an endless line-up of beach cafés. You really can’t go wrong. Pick your own piece of fish or shellfish, sit back and watch the sun drop into the ocean as the rest of the evening unfolds.
6. Bakso (Indonesian meatballs)
This quick and easy Bali street food will set you back about R10 (IDR10,000). Of Indonesian and Chinese descent, the sweet and sour Bakso soup is made up of beef bone marrow broth, beef meatballs, vermicelli glass noodles, cabbage greens, celery and one or two other flavourants. Just a 10-minute leg break while exploring the beautiful island is all you need to enjoy this simple yet delicious meal.
Below are a few more meals we felt we simply couldn’t leave off our list of Bali food not be missed. Every corner of Bali offers an opportunity to try something new, so use every opportunity.
7. Bebek Ayan Betutu – smoked duck rubbed and stuffed with a mix of spices, wrapped in an areca palm leaf or betel nut bark and smoked with the embers of rice husks
8. Babi Guling – pork rubbed in turmeric and a variety of other spices.
9. Mini Rijsttafel (Rijsttafel is a Dutch word which means “rice table”) – rice accompanied by an assortment of Indonesian delicacies including meats, vegetables, sambals and sauces.
10. Tahu and Tempe (Tahu meaning “tofu”, and Tempe – a culturing of soybean into a cake form) – resembling a samoosa, this savoury snack can be enjoyed at every meal.
Desserts everyone should try in Bali
1. Pisang Goreng (Banana fritters)
Most of us are familiar with the term “fritter”. Well, that’s exactly what it is. Pieces of banana are battered with a flour, salt and water mixture and deep fried in oil. Pisang Goreng is best served hot alongside a bowl of vanilla ice-cream.
2. Laklak (Balinese pancake)
Rice flour and coconut milk make up this delicious Balinese pancake. Either white or green in colouring (green colouring from the suji leaf), but tastes exactly the same, Laklak is served with grated coconut and palm sugar or white sugar. It is best enjoyed piping hot and accompanied by a cup of tea.
3. Burbur Injin (Black rice pudding)
Made from glutinous black rice flour soaked overnight and then gently mixed with thickened coconut milk, this Balinese treat requires a little more time to prepare than other desserts. Top this sticky sweet treat with fresh cuts of strawberries, jackfruit or pomegranate.
4. Batun Bedil (Glutinous rice flour dumplings in brown sugar)
Similar to Burbur Injin, this dessert is made with glutinous rice flour, water, tapioca starch, and a pinch of salt to taste. All these ingredients are rolled into small balls of dough and then boiled for 10 minutes. Once cooked, they are served with brown sugar. There are variations to this recipe but the main ingredients remain the same.
5. Klepon (Sticky rice balls with caramelised sugar)
Enjoyed on-the-go, this traditional Balinese rice cake originated in Java but is still very much enjoyed by the Bali locals. Tourists have been said to love it too. It might just be the burst of gooey sweet caramelised coconut sugar as you bite into the little balls of delight that does the trick.
6. Burbur Sumsum (Coconut rice porridge)
If you are feeling queasy or are suffering from indigestion, this might just be the remedy for you. This traditional dessert is mainly made of coconut milk, rice flour and salt which are gently mixed together, cooked until thickened and then chilled. It is best served with palm sugar syrup, sweet fruit or occasionally sweet potato dumplings. Not too sweet, not too salty, just perfect!
Wash your meal down with these Balinese favourites
Freshly-squeezed juices are an absolute hit in Bali. Traditionally made with your preference of fruit and mixed with a liquid sugar for sweetness and ice to cool it down, you can now get a cold freshly-pressed juice on just about every street corner from the myriad of organic juice bars. Along with finding firm favourites such as watermelon, lime, avocado, carrot, orange and the like, you can also make your own mix of juices, customised to your liking.
Not only are the juices out of this world, but smoothie bowls or fruit bowls are just as amazing. If nothing else, they will make for a beautiful Instapic. Enjoy a beautifully put together bowl packed with goodness and layered to perfection.
Es Kelapa Muda
What’s an island vacation without drinking coconut water out of a coconut? While this may look as though the coconut was merely picked off the beach, slashed open and served with a straw, it’s not quite as it seems. The juice of the coconut is mixed with a liquid syrup for sweetness and served mostly in a glass container of sorts. Traditional es kelapa muda is still prepared and served in the actual coconut.
A variety of local teas and coffees
It wouldn’t be a trip to Bali if you didn’t try the Kopi Luwak. This is a coffee collected in the faeces of an Asian civet, the Luwak. The Luwak eats the coffee bean and passes the bean almost immediately, with almost zero digestion. It’s the most expensive coffee in the world so it should definitely be an item on your list of Bali food to sample. You will easily be able to sample a number of coffees and teas in and around Bali. An experience not to be missed.
There’s no hiding it, Bintang is the beer of choice when travelling to Bali. It is loved by locals and tourists alike… by the gallon. Unfortunately, it may not be as cold as you might have hoped in your less lux environment, but it is always welcomed in the Balinese heat. Find a spot, grab some friends and knock a few cold ones back.
We’re all about being adventurous but you might want to take it slow when drinking the local white spirit. If you’ve heard of an “Arack attack”, you’ll know what we mean. Typically the white spirit is drunk by locals on the side streets taking shots in turns as a form of relaxation or a celebration. Tourists know it as a cheap spirit alternative and a cheap night out but it is to be drunk at your own risk.
Bali wines vs Australian wines
Firstly, it is important to understand what we mean when we refer to ‘locally produced’ wine. There are two types of wines made in Bali. A wine which is produced using imported grapes (from Australia or Chile), or wine which is produced using local grapes which are grown in Bali. You should try a bit of both to get a feel for the differences in flavour. Imported wines can still be purchased at a liquor store but will be frightfully expensive.
Is Bali food starting to grow on you more and more? If you think you might adopt an insatiable affinity for Balinese food, why not book a cheap flight to Bali today?
For a little more inspiration on why Bali should be your next trip, check out:
- Bali’s beautiful beaches
- The best Bali diving spots you have to see
- 10 of the best must-see Bali temples
- The best of the Bali nightlife,
- Ubud – all you need to know before you go
If you know of some more Bali deliciousness which we might not have mentioned, please share them with us in the comments below.
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