Balinese Cuisine


Examples of Balinese dishes, such as sate lilit, nasi kuning, lawar, and lala manis sambal condiment

Examples of Balinese dishes, such as sate lilit, nasi kuning, lawar, and lala manis sambal condiment

Balinese cuisine is a cuisine tradition of Balinese people from the volcanic island of Bali. Part of Indonesian cuisine, it demonstrates indigenous traditions, as well as influences from other Indonesian regional cuisine, Chinese and Indian. The island’s inhabitants are predominantly Hindu and culinary traditions are somewhat distinct with the rest of Indonesia, with festivals and religious celebrations including many special foods prepared as the offerings for the deities, as well as other dishes consumed communally during the celebrations.

Rice is almost always consumed as a staple accompanied with vegetables, meat and seafood. Pork, chicken, fruit, vegetables and seafood are widely utilised, however just like most of Hindus, beef is never or rarely consumed.

Bali is a popular tourist destination, and the area has quite a lot of cooking schools with daily courses of Balinese cuisine. Night markets, warungs (food stands), and fruit vendors sell local delicacies. Festivals include ornately prepared foods as part of the celebrations. As a popular tourist area, many westernised foods are also available as well as other regional ethnic cuisines.


Bali has a strong rice agriculture traditions in Indonesia, as evidence through centuries old intricate network of sophisticated Subak irrigation system. The Balinese water temples regulates the water allocation of each village’s rice fields in the region. Balinese Hinduism revered Dewi Sri as an important rice goddess. Her and other deities colourful effigies made from colourful sticky rice are often made during religious ceremonies. Basic rice dishes in Balinese cuisine include Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), Nasi Putih (steamed rice), and Nasi Goreng (fried rice).

Bebek betutu (smoked duck)

Bebek betutu (smoked duck)

Balinese nasi campur with meat and fish versions of sate lilit

Balinese nasi campur with meat and fish versions of sate lilit

Telur bumbu from Bali (boiled eggs in a hot and spicy sauce)

Telur bumbu from Bali (boiled eggs in a hot and spicy sauce)

Spice Pastes and Basic Recipes

There are plenty of spices used daily in Balinese cuisine and some have quite profound effects, however these spices are not normally mixed in with the food while it is cooked.  Ground mixtures or spicy chilli pastes (sambal) are provided on the side so that the diner can chose to add the desired quantities according to their own taste.

Base Gede (basic spice paste) is an ingredient in many Balinese dishes. Other spice pastes used in cooking include Base Jukut (for vegetables), Base be Sampi (for beef), Base be Siap (for chicken), and Base be Pasih (for seafood). Basic recipes in Balinese cuisine include :

  • Sambal Tomat (spiced tomato sauce)
  • Base Sate (sate sauce)
  • Base Sate (sate sauce with coconut milk)
  • Sambal Terong (eggplant sambal)
  • Acar (pickled vegetables)
  • Kesuna Goreng (fried garlic)
  • Bawang Goreng (fried shallots)
  • Kesuna Goreng Kuning (yellow fried garlic)
  • Bawang Goreng Kuning (yellow fried shallots)
  • Saur (fried coconut with turmeric)
  • Turmeric Water
  • Base Rujak (sweet tamarind chilli sauce)
  • Sambal Sere Tabia (fried chilli dressing)
  • Sambal Matah (shallot and lemongrass dressing)
  • Kuah (stock)
  • Tabia Lalah Manis (chilli soy sauce)
  • Palm Sugar Syrup


A standard soup at Balinese feasts is Jukut Ares (banana stem soup). For this soup a banana stem is boiled with meat and various spices to make a rich stew. Soups in Balinese cuisine include :

  • Gedang Mekuah (green papaya soup)
  • Gerangasem Siap (clear chicken soup)
  • Jukut Ares (chicken soup with banana stems)
  • Jukut Kakul (snail soup with spinach)
  • Jukut Siap (chicken soup with vegetables and eggs)
  • Kuwah Ares Bebek (duck soup with banana stems)
  • Kuwah Bayem Tomat (spinach and tomato cream soup)
  • Wong Dadah (mushroom soup)

Vegetable and Salad Dishes

Most fruit, vegetables, leaves, and beans are simply steamed, cooled to room temperature, then mixed with coconut and spiced before serving with rice or other dishes. To the Balinese, these are salads. Salads, as known to Westerners, do not exist in Bali as the Balinese don’t eat raw vegetables (with the exception of the occasional cucumber). The Asian concept of quickly stir-frying vegetables so as to heat them but maintain crispness also does not exist in Bali. Vegetables are always eaten well-cooked and limp or soft. To make vegetable dishes more interesting, the Balinese mix the cooked vegetables with grated coconut. Vegetable and Salad recipes in Balinese cuisine include :

  • Ayam Pelalah (shredded chicken with lime and chillies)
  • Be Celeng Mesitsit (shredded spiced pork salad)
  • Buah Kacang Mekuah (long beans in soy dressing)
  • Don Jukut Belimbing (starfruit leaves with minced duck)
  • Don Kelor dan Jagung (green vegetables with corn)
  • Jejeruk Ayam (shredded chicken with jackfruit)
  • Jukut Antungan (creamy vegetable salad)
  • Jukut Nangka Mekuah (young jackfruit braised in coconut dressing)
  • Jukut Urab (mixed vegetables with grated coconut)
  • Lawar Ayam (green bean salad with chicken)
  • Lawar Gedang Udang (green papaya salad with prawns)
  • Lawar Nyawan (honeycomb salad with green papaya)
  • Pecelan (vegetable salad in peanut dressing)
  • Pelecing Kangkung (water spinach in tomato chilli dressing)
  • Sambal be Tongkol (tuna salad with shallots and lemongrass)
  • Sayur Pakis (fern tips in garlic dressing)
  • Serapa Sampi (beef salad with coconut)
  • Serombotan (vegetable salad in peanut chilli dressing)
  • Timun Mesanten (cucumbers in coconut sauce)
Sate Ayam

Sate Ayam (chicken sate)


Sate is a common dish mostly associated with Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines. Traditional Balinese sate falls into two types :
Sate Asam
This type of sate is made with chunks of meat threaded onto skewers. The meat is normally marinated for 15 minutes to an hour before threading onto the skewers and grilling or barbecuing. Since the meat has already been marinated before cooking, Balinese sate is not usually served with any special sauce. A dip of light soy sauce with finely chopped chillies is usually made available for diners.
Sate Lembat or Sate Lilit
This is perhaps the original Balinese sate, made from ground or pounded meat and wrapped around a flat skewer. This method can be a little time consuming, and only the best cuts of meat should be used. Sate recipes in Balinese cuisine include :

  • Sate Asam Celeng (pork sate with liver)
  • Sate Ayam (chicken sate)
  • Sate Kakul (snail sate)
  • Sate Lilit Ikan (minced seafood sate)
  • Sate Lembat Bebak (minced duck sate)


Balinese coffee, Kopi Bali, and hot tea, teh panas are popular. Tea is often served with sugar (gula) and condensed milk, susu. Brem is Balinese rice wine alcoholic beverage. It is made from fermented mash of black or white glutinous rice (known as Ketan) using a dry-starter, which called as Ragi tape.


Pork, chicken, seafoods and vegetables are widely consumed.

Spices include Kaempferia galanga (galangal), shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger and Kaffir lime are used in Balinese cuisine. Balinese 8-spice is made with white pepper, black pepper, coriander, cumin, clove, nutmeg, sesame seed, and candlenut. Palm sugar, fish paste, and basa gede (a spice paste) are used.

Fruits include rambutan, mangoes, mangosteen, bananas, jackfruit, rambutan, makiza, nangka, pineapple, salak (snake fruit), duku, kelengkeng, wani (Mangifera caesia), papaya, longan, white mango (Mangifera caesia), melon, oranges custard-apple, coconut and durian.

Common Dishes

  • Babi guling, roasted suckling pig, famous in Bali
  • Betutu, steamed or roasted poultry (chicken or duck) highly seasoned. A specialty of Bali and Lombok
  • Bubur Sum-Sum, rice porridge with palm sugar sauce and grated coconut.
  • Bubur Injun (black rice pudding), black sticky rice with coconut milk.
  • Bantal, packages of sticky rice, coconut, sugar and fruit (often bananas or sometimes orange rind or even mango essence).
  • Iga Babi, Balinese pork ribs
  • Kopi Luwak (Luwak coffee), also called civet coffee or “poo coffee”. It is named after the practice of weasel-like animals called civets let loose into coffee plantations at night to eat coffee berries then poop out the coffee beans which are collected, washed and roasted over a fire.
  • Lawar, mixed vegetables and other ingredients
  • Nasi Bali, rice with various dishes
  • Sate Babi (pork satay)
  • Sate Lilit, spiced mince meat on a stick
  • Sayur Urab, mixed salad
  • Bumbu Bali


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