We say it again and again, but we are so fortunate to call this beautiful island home. One of our favourite things about it – the food! At FINNS, we are spoiled for choice with our on-site restaurants that mix Western and Indonesian delights. But, one part of Bali culture we constantly crave is authentic, rich Balinese dishes. Bali’s cuisine reflects the island’s culture and traditions by using various island-grown spices, vegetables, and tropical fruits.
Below, we have narrowed down our favourites to the Top 10 best must-try foods and local delights that showcase the depth and richness of Bali’s food scene. From the slow-cooked duck dish called bebek betutu to the popular grilled seafood of Jimbaran, this island offers a range of flavours and cooking techniques that are sure to tantalise the taste buds of any food enthusiast.
Whether you are a foodie or simply looking to expand your palate, Bali’s food scene is one that you must explore, and you will not be disappointed!
So, join us as we discover Bali’s best and experience the unique flavours of this tropical paradise.
What is Balinese food like?
Bali’s diverse food choices are attributed to its unique culture, as visitors can explore various options in the island’s food scene. Balinese cuisine is a blend of Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, and European influences and its own traditional cooking methods, ingredients, and spices. The food is distinctly characterised by its use of fresh ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, meat, and seafood, and its distinctive flavours, such as spicy, sweet, sour, and salty.
Bali offers a vibrant food scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. There are always carts with street food and local snacks, or you can book a special night with fine dining dishes. There are staples and traditional Balinese dishes, such as nasi goreng, sate lilit, babi guling, and lawar, or try fusion dishes that combine Balinese and Western ingredients. Bali’s food scene also includes vegetarian and vegan options, as well as organic and healthy choices. No one will go hungry when taking a culinary tour of the island!
Overall, Bali’s food scene reflects its rich cultural heritage and diverse culinary traditions, making it a food lover’s paradise.
Top 10 must-try Balinese dishes
We could easily make this list longer, especially if we added dishes from other areas around Indonesia, such as Java or Sumatra. Still, we did our best to keep dishes quintessential in Bali. Here is our list of the top 10 must-try local Balinese dishes that will tantalise your taste buds.
- First up, lawar is a traditional Balinese dish made from finely chopped meat, vegetables, grated coconut, and spices. It is bursting with flavours and is best enjoyed fresh as it cannot be stored for long periods.
- Another popular dish is Bebek betutu, which involves slow-cooking a whole chicken or duck stuffed with traditional spices and wrapped in banana leaves. This dish is perfect for those who prefer poultry over pork and requires approximately 6 to 7 hours of cooking time to achieve its tender deliciousness.
- Sate lilit is a Balinese variant of satay where minced meat is mixed with coconut and vegetables. It comes in various types of meat, such as chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, tofu, eggs, and even minced blends. This versatile dish is a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
- For pork lovers, Babi guling is a must-try. It features a spit-roast pig stuffed with traditional spices and vegetable mixes. Originally served during special festivities and ceremonies, it has become a popular delicacy showcasing Balinese cuisine’s rich flavours.
- Nasi ayam and nasi campur are two popular options for rice-based dishes. They both include white rice served with different elements of Balinese food, such as grilled chicken, crispy fried tofu, spicy sambal, and various vegetable dishes.
- Jimbaran seafood is a treat for seafood enthusiasts. This dish consists of fresh seafood, such as prawns, crabs, fish, and squid, grilled over hot charcoal. It is often served in beachside cafes, allowing you to enjoy the delicious flavours while basking in the beauty of Bali’s shores.
- Bali also offers a delightful selection of traditional cakes and desserts known as jajanan pasar. These treats are made with rice flour, coconut, and tropical fruits. They are available throughout the day, making them perfect for a sweet indulgence anytime.
- Sate, also known as satay, is a popular Indonesian dish consisting of skewered and grilled meat seasoned with spices and served with peanut sauce. In Bali, sate is made with different types of meat such as chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, tofu, eggs, and minced blends. Sate lilit, a Balinese satay variant, is made from minced meat mixed with coconut and vegetables. This unique recipe is well-known in Bali and is a must-try for visitors who want to experience the local cuisine.
- Nasi goreng is a notable Indonesian dish that you should take notice of. You can find Nasi goreng everywhere. It is made by stir-frying cooked rice with meats, vegetables, and aromatic spices. Nasi goreng is a quick and satisfying meal that showcases the fusion of different flavours.
- Lastly, Soybean curds are versatile and come in different preparations in Bali. Tahu and tempeh are two popular soybean curds used in many Balinese dishes. Tahu, also known as tofu, is a soft, white, sponge-like curd that can be fried, stuffed, and battered. Tempeh, conversely, is a fermented soybean cake that is high in protein and a staple protein source in Indonesian cuisine. Both tahu and tempeh are used in various Balinese dishes and are a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Bali’s cuisine is a reflection of its vibrant culture and diverse influences. The use of aromatic spices, fresh herbs, and locally-sourced ingredients creates a symphony of flavours in each dish. Whether you prefer savoury or sweet, meat or seafood, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, Bali has something to offer.
What makes local Balinese foods truly special is the passion and skill that goes into their preparation. Many dishes require long hours of cooking or intricate techniques, so there is a great deal of dedication and pride from the local chefs and cooks.
Furthermore, the dining experience in Bali goes beyond just the food. Beautiful beachside cafes and traditional warungs immerse you in the island’s atmosphere while you savour the exquisite flavours. The warm hospitality of the locals adds an extra touch to the culinary adventure, making it an unforgettable experience.
Whether you’re a food enthusiast or just curious to taste something new, venturing into the world of Balinese local foods is a must. It’s an opportunity to explore the island’s cultural nuances through its culinary delights. So, embrace the flavours, indulge in the diverse gastronomic offerings, and satisfy your taste buds with the deliciousness that Bali has to offer.
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