Flavors of Bali: 10 Must-Try Balinese Foods!

Illustration of Balinese Foods

Illustration of Balinese Foods, photo by Pixabay on Pexels

After spending your time exploring the best hidden gems in Bali,  you’ll probably want to look for something delish to eat. Bali has lists of foods that come with various spices, ranging from cumin, turmeric, and even cloves. Those spices will create blends of taste and make your taste buds begging for more!

Influenced by Chinese and Indian cuisine, the Balinese can integrate the two to present a delightful combination of dishes. So, without further ado, here are ten must-try Balinese foods for you!

1. Must-Try Balinese Foods: Ayam Betutu

Illustration of Ayam Betutu

Illustration of Ayam Betutu, photo by Detik

Ayam Betutu is one of the must-try Balinese foods that’s originating from Gilimanuk. Ayam betutu itself refers to a slow-cooked chicken (ayam), the dish itself is known for being delightfully aromatic. Ayam betutu is a perfect substitute for those who don’t eat pork. 

This food consists of a whole chicken stuffed and seasoned with various spices and herbs. The chicken is then wrapped in banana leaves and tree bark before being cooked for 6 hours. After cooking, the chicken meat becomes juicy and tender, separating effortlessly from the bone. 

2. Taste of Indonesia: Sate Lilit

Illustration of Sate Lilit, photo by Wikipedia

Sate also known as satay, is one of the staple dishes in Indonesia and Balinese cuisine. This kind of skewer is one of the must-try Balinese foods. Sate lilit itself refers to meat that is finely diced marinated in coconut milk, and various spices. The ingredients are mixed with coconut, coconut milk, and various vegetables. 

Once mixed thoroughly, the sate is wrapped in bamboo, sugarcane, or lemongrass sticks before it’s grilled over fire or charcoal. However, unlike traditional sate, the sate lilit isn’t served with peanut sauce; it’s served with sambal matah.

3. Unique-Tasting Balinese Food: Lawar

Illustration of Lawar, photo by Tribunnews Wiki

Lawar is one of the unique-tasting Balinese foods. This typical Balinese food is a mixture of ground meat, sliced green vegetables, and grated coconut. Some types of lawar are made with animal blood to strengthen their flavor, which is known as red lawar and tends to have a strong umami and savory taste. If you prefer a vegetarian option, then you might pick the white version of lawar that’s made from jackfruit and doesn’t contain meat or blood at all.

4. Good Smelling Balinese Foods: Pepes Ikan

Illustration of Pepes Ikan, photo by TripAdvisor

Pepes Ikan is one of the must-try Balinese food that has a fantastic smell. Pepes Ikan is a dish of fish wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed until fully cooked. Cooked banana leaves will leave a distinctive smell and taste on the fish, making it more appealing. 

Any kind of fish can be used to make pepes ikan; however, it’s most commonly made with mackerel, sardines, or even snapper. This delicious pepes ikan dish will give you an authentic taste of Balinese culinary.

5. Best-Tasting Balinese Foods: Babi Guling

Illustration of Babi Guling, photo by BBC Travel

Babi guling, or also known as roasted suckling pig, is a traditional and must-try Balinese food that breaks the norm of most Indonesian cuisine. As in other parts of the Muslim Indonesian region, pork is quite difficult to find, but you will find no such difficulties of finding one in Bali.

Babi guling is usually a celebratory dish served only at religious ceremonies or large celebrations. With the growth of tourism and strong interest in babi guling, this norm has changed, and the dish is now regularly served, even at common warungs.

The pig is marinated in various spices and herbs and slowly roasted on a rolling spit over an open fire fueled by wood or nice coconut charcoal. Once the pig is fully cooked and their skin becomes crispy, it will be served with steamed rice, vegetables, and sambal.

6. Delicacy of Balinese Foods: Tum Ayam

Illustration of Tum Ayam, photo by Media Nasional

Tum is one of the delicacies of Balinese foods. Tum ayam uses the technique of wrapping in banana leaves. While pepes is the most common method, tum is a slightly different form with the leaf stitched at one end. 

Tum ayam contains a mix of minced chicken flavored with various herbs and spices. After being wrapped in banana leaves, the tum is then steamed until thoroughly cooked, and the flavors start to permeate the dish.

7. Perfect for Everyone: Nasi Campur

Illustration of Nasi Campur, photo by PegiPegi

Nasi campur is a staple of Balinese cuisine. It’s a rice meal consisting of steamed rice served with various side dishes like shredded chicken, fried tofu and tempeh, boiled eggs, bean sprouts, and sambal. It’s basically a Balinese tasting platter with each restaurant or warungs serving it quite differently. While nasi campur is easily available throughout the archipelago, the unique blend of Balinese spices makes this dish one of the must-try Balinese foods.

8. Herbs and Spices: Ayam Pelalah

Illustration of Ayam Pelalah, photo by Okezone Lifestyle

Ayam pelalah is a traditional Balinese dish made with a combination of chicken, spicy bell peppers, shallots, various aromatic herbs and spices, shrimp paste, and oil. The herbs such as bay leaves, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves will give ayam pelalah a distinct smell.

The chicken is grilled, shredded into small pieces, then mixed with the spice paste and stir-fried until fully cooked and thoroughly mixed. Once done, the chicken is served with lime wedges, tomato slices, a bit of cucumber slices, sambal, and white rice on the side.

9. Fresh and Tasty Balinese Foods: Tipat Cantok

Illustration of Tipat Cantok, photo by TripAdvisor

Tipat cantok is one of the Balinese popular local dishes that’s made from various boiled and blanched vegetables. Tipat cantok is usually served with ketupat rice cake and topped with spicy peanut sauce. Tipat is a Balinese language that means ketupat, while cantok means that ingredients are ground using mortar and pestle. 

For some people, the peanut sauce might be too spicy. Ask the sellers not to put too much chilli pepper. You can ask the sellers to add sweet soy sauce to add a sweet taste and diminish the peanut sauce’s spiciness. Additionally, fried shallots are sprinkled on the dish to add a more robust flavor. 

10. Best Sweet Balinese Snack: Lak Lak

Illustration of Lak Lak, photo by IDN Times

Lak Lak might surprise you if you ever had a sweet rice cake before. Lak Lak is a traditional Balinese pancake sometimes known as the best sweet Balinese snack. This snack is made from rice flour and usually comes in green or white colors that naturally come from the pandan leaves. To top it off, this snack is served with a topping of grated coconut and melted palm sugar. Lak lak is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack. It’s also common for you to find it at many street food stalls.

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