Lemongrass, garlic, turmeric. The Flavors of Bali. Ginger, cloves, coffee. The Flavors of Bali. Cardamon, nutmeg, galangal. The Flavors of Bali. Chili, Chocolate, Fruit.
Bali smells good. Bali tastes good. And Bali is a feast for the eyes as well. A beautiful tropical island in Indonesia with happy and kind people, gorgeous mountains and seashore, lush green foliage and bright tropical flowers and fruits with flavors that explode in your mouth and bring a smile to your face. The Flavors of Bali. Fresh and unforgettable.
During our three days at the Puri Lumbung
Cottages in the village of Munduk we enjoyed an hour and a half cooking class where we learned about combining all the amazing flavors of Bali into six distinctly Bali dishes. We enjoyed a feast after we cooked and found a new appreciation for fresh and local ingredients.
Our day started with an early morning walk to the tiny and very authentic local market in the village
of Munduk. We purchased our fresh ingredients here including; cassava a green similar to spinach that would go in our soup; ferns a green similar to fiddleheads that we would use to make a side dish; lemongrass a Bali staple that we would use in multiple dishes; fresh white corn that we would use in corn fritters; banana leaves we would wrap the fish in; and galanga a root flavoring similar to ginger that we would use in multiple dishes.
When we arrived at the beautiful open air kitchen overlooking the rice fields and vast valley below we found four work stations each with a ulekan and cobek – a Balinese style mortar and pestle made from local basalt. At each work station ingredients where waiting in each ulekan for us to begin the somewhat arduous process of crushing and combining the flavors of Bali for each individual dish.
Timbungan Ayam is a clear chicken soup with cassava leaves and fried shallots. We ground the flavors of chili, shallot, galangal, lemongrass, nutmeg, lime leaves and shrimp paste into a mash that was then combined with chopped fresh chicken and cassava and cooked on the open flame stove top. It was a delicious broth and one of my favorite flavors of the day.
Bergedel Tagung is a fried corn fritter. In the ulekan we ground the flavors of Bali of nutmeg, chili, garlic and shrimp paste. We then took the fresh corn off the cobb, mixed it with the spices and an egg and cooked the fritters (about the size of a fifty cent piece) in corn oil. Crunchy and delicious.
Pepes Ikan Laut is a fish dish smothered in a Balinese paste then wrapped in banana leaf and grilled. In the ulekan we had our toughest ingredients to grind including shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, aromatic ginger, candle nut (like macadamia) nutmeg, tomato, shrimp paste, chile and salt & pepper. First mixed with coconut oil into a paste, this mixture was smeared all over chunks of fresh fish. The banana leaves were laid out in two layers with one large bay leaf in the center. The fish was
spooned evenly on four banana leaves which were wrapped and folded and secured with a bamboo toothpick before being laid in a hot pan on an open flame for grilling. When it was time to eat we opened the banana leaf envelope to find the chunks had fused together into an aromatic and juicy fish surprise.
Be Siap Sere Bawang is a chicken dish with a strong lemongrass flavor. We began by grinding the spices of shrimp paste, chili, turmeric, salt & pepper into a paste. The cooked chicken was
shredded into pieces and mixed with the spices, sliced lemongrass and sliced shallots then quickly sauted to soften the lemongrass. Probably my least favorite of all the dishes just because of the too strong flavor of lemongrass.
Urap Campur is like a side vegetable dish. It can be made with most any green vegetable such as cassava, cabbage or long bean. For our cooking class we used local ferns. The ferns were
blanched and water squeezed out before we arrived. The ferns were mixed together with grated coconut, cooked local red beans, fried shallot, juice of the kaffir lime and salt and pepper.
Bubur Campur was our dessert a mix of local fruits including jackfruit, banana, pandan, mangosteen and sweet potato. We boiled the fruit in water with palm sugar syrup for sweetener, a bit of starch for thickening and coconut milk for flavor. It was served in a bowl and we all agreed it would have been better served over vanilla ice cream.
We have really enjoyed our time in Bali and getting to know the Flavors of Bali. As in so many cultures the Balinese enjoy what is local and seasonal in their simple but delicious everyday foods. And we enjoyed experiencing it first hand. The Flavors of Bali. Fabulous.
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