Iconic Dishes of Bali, Indonesia

Adventures in Flavor
Thu, 24 Apr 2014 20:49:11 +0000
A few years back, when my husband and I were living in Los Angeles we took a trip to the island of Bali in Indonesia, which is north west of Australia.  Not many Americans travel to Bali as it's a 22 hr flight to get there from the U.S. and that's if you're departing from L.A. For the Aussies though it is just a short hop away which is one of many reasons why Bali has been a popular destination for Australians for decades now, as well as the attraction of it's rich culture, wonderful food, warm, welcoming people, amazing scenery, great surfing and shopping.   While the majority of the Indonesian population are muslims, 92% of the population of Bali are practicing Hindus.  Balinese Hinduism is much more about art and ritual and is less preoccupied with scripture, law and belief than Islam is in the rest of Indonesia.  The Balinese place less importance on the cycles of reincarnation and rebirth and are more concerned with the myriad of local and ancestral spirits, which are believed to be capable of both good or harm.  This belief leads them to place great emphasis on appeasing these spirits through the creation and placing of artistic and beautiful offerings at temple sites scattered all throughout their villages and all over the countryside of Bali. Offerings to the spirits, made up of flowers, palm fronds, sweet rice cakes and fruit. Nasi Goreng which literally means fried rice in Indonesian, is a way to use up leftovers that often includes shallots, garlic, tamarind, chili, egg, chicken and prawns (shrimp) and is flavored with Kecap Manis, a common ingredient in Indonesian dishes. Kecap Manis is a sweet soy sauce with a thicker consistency than traditional soy sauce and is delicious.  Most Indonesian households serve Nasi Goreng  for breakfast but it's also a popular late night snack from street vendors.  We ate this for breakfast everyday when we were there and never tired of it. Nasi Goreng image courtesy of an old Australian "Family Circle" magazine I have held onto as it featured numerous popular Indonesian dishes.  We took much more video on this trip than photos. There are amazing stone carvings of various Hindu deities all over Bali, this one overlooked these gorgeous terraced rice fields. Procession honoring one of the many Balinese Hindu spirits. A popular dish in Bali and in Australia at Indonesian restaurants: Chicken Satay with a spicy peanut sauce that is flavored with green onions, garlic, curry powder, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, honey and soy sauce. Image courtesy of an old Australian "Family Circle" magazine.  Me by the pool at the little boutique hotel we stayed at on the coast before shifting inland to stay in the village of Ubud in the highlands of Bali. The downstairs of the wonderful little house we rented outside the village of Ubud which had an amazing outdoor shower. Gado Gado is one of my favorite salads that I make frequently in summer for a light supper, consisting of various cold crunchy veggies, along with spinach, hard boiled eggs and topped with a scrumptious peanuty, spicy dressing.  This image is once again courtesy of my "Family Circle" magazine. But the following one is my image from a Gado Gado I made last summer that I added some rice noodles to. Balinese women dancing with offerings during a Hindu religious procession that we able to witness at a remote village where we were the only Westerners in attendance. Close up of one of the dancers, I loved all the bright colors of their outfits.  Note that I took these images very discreetly using my zoom lens so as not to be obtrusive or disrespectful of their ceremony. Another favorite Indonesian dish of mine, Beef Rendang which is made by simmering beef all day in coconut milk and a spice paste of ground coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallots, chilies, lemongrass, lime leaves and palm sugar.  It is cooked until all the liquid has evaporated then the meat is fried in oil, caramelizing what's left of the sauce around the meat and tastes freaking fabulous!! Image courtesy of my "Family Circle" magazine. Amazing entryway into a gallery selling Balinese wood carvings, ornate buildings like this are everywhere in Bali.  Double-click the image to enlarge it to fully appreciate the work that was put into this doorway. Gorgeous waterlily in a pond outside the house we rented in Ubud, Bali. I will be sharing the recipes for these delicious Indonesian dishes over the next few months so stay tuned. The End
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