Balinese food is some of the most delicious in Indonesia and is also markedly different from many other parts of the country. One of the big reasons for this is that Bali is predominantly Hindu and as a result pork features on the menu regularly as opposed to the rest of Muslim-majority Indonesia. As you would also expect, Bali’s position by the sea means that there is an emphasis on fish and seafood here.
Lawar is made by chopping or mincing meat, vegetables, coconut, and a variety of local herbs and spices. Common ingredients added to lawar include palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, green beans, and shallots. One of the reasons the dish is also famous is because it is sometimes mixed with animal blood which results in ‘red’ lawar. The white version is blood-free, so if you are squeamish then this is the better choice. You are most likely to find lawar in small warungs or cafes all over the island.
As Bali is an island it stands to reason that there is a huge array of seafood on offer here. One of the most famous places to get this is in Jimbaran which has made a name for itself thanks to its signature cooking style. The seafood can come in the form of shrimps, crab, clams, lobster, or squid and is usually rubbed with a spicy paste and then grilled over coconut husks. You pay for the seafood according to weight and it is usually served simply over rice with some vegetable side dishes.
Ayam or Bebek Betutu:
Betutu is the name for the preparation of this dish which is made with either chicken (ayam) or duck (bebek). The fowl is rubbed with a blend of traditional spices and then stuffed and wrapped in banana leaves. This is then buried and cooked in an underground coal fire for around 7 hours until the meat is incredibly tender and infused with flavor. This is a good choice if you don’t eat pork and don’t want to try babi guling.
Babi Guling or spit-roasted suckling pig is probably Bali’s most famous dish. The pig is rubbed with a traditional spice blend and then roasted over an open fire until the skin is brown and crackling. The meal used to be served at celebrations but now you can get it in a variety of places all over the island. One of the most famous is Babi Guling Pak Malen which is centrally located on Sunset Road and has been serving up some of the best pig in Bali for years.
Satay, or meat on skewers is one of the most famous snacks in Indonesia, and Bali’s own version is called Sate Lilit. It is usually made of a minced meat such as beef or chicken or minced fish. This is then mixed with shredded coconut, herbs and spices, and vegetables and then pressed onto skewers which are often made of bamboo or sticks of lemongrass. The satay is then grilled and served as a snack or a component to a bigger meal.