The island of Bali, and Indonesia as a whole, is one of the easiest countries to travel and eat in as a vegetarian. Multiple protein types and a range of sauces provides even travelers on the tightest of budges with a wide range of options. However, most menus tend to feature the same main players, which can get a bit boring at times. Step outside the comfort of the basic Indonesian restaurants and join a cheap cooking class or foody tour to find the real taste of Bali. I took part in the Green Kitchen cooking class, which takes place just outside Ubud in central Bali.
Gado gado- This is by far the most common veggie dish you’ll find throughout Indonesia. In the two weeks I spent there, I must have ordered this at least 5 times because of the delicious peanut sauce. It’s served with a green bean-style veg, tofu, fried tempeh (fermented soy bean bricks), a hard-boiled egg, and other restaurant-specific sides. As far as getting bank for your buck, this maximum $4 meal is your best bet, whether in a traditional restaurant, small cafe, or street food stand.
Soto ayam- or at least I think that was what it’s called. There are many varieties of soup on the island and the smaller surrounding islands, but many of them will be made with meat. Unless you get a well-written English menu, or can speak Balinese, it’s definitely safer to steer clear of soup. This photo was taken at a restaurant in Ubud, where the soup contained coconut, greens, lemongrass, corn, ginger, chillies, and other spices to kickstart the pallet.
Plecing kangkung– We were taught to make this rural greens dish while on our cooking course. It’s very simple to make containing only sauteed water spinach, sambal tomato, fried shallots, and lime juice.
Fried foods are very traditional, as it’s a quick, easy, and cheap method of cooking. Here, you see deep-fried corn fritters made with garlic, chili, shallot, lesser galangal, palm sugar, and salt. The tofu and tempeh are also deep fried, while the bowl on the left contains coconut and tofu curry. Balinese curries use coconut milk as a base then are built up with tempeh, tofu, candle nuts, kaffir lime leaf, and base gede- the most basic and essential Balinese spice mix. Sambal nyuh, the brown sauce in the middle of the plate, is made by combining base gede, coconut, and lemon basil.
Bubur injin- Although desserts aren’t massively popular in typical Balinese cuisine, this black rice pudding would be made for special occasions. It contains black rice, sticky white rice, palm sugar, pandan leaf, coconut cream, and salt, and pairs perfectly with Balinese coffee.
Our cooking class feast: fried tempeh and tofu, green bean stalks, rice with banana, sambal nyuh, corn fritters, sambal tomato, curry, and jukut ares (banana stalk soup).