It’s been more than a month since my Bali trip, and I miss the place tremendously: the warm smiles, the breathtaking views, the proximity to nature, the adventures, and without a doubt, the food.
Check out some of my adventures in my first post here: http://melicacy.com/?p=3828
It was one lazy morning, when I was just soaking up the serene surroundings in the villa (read my post on Petanu River Villa here), that I spontaneously decided to join a Balinese cooking class.
The best way to discover a foreign country, at least for me, is through its cuisine. And learning how to cook its local cuisine takes the educative journey to the next level.
I haven’t done any research on cooking schools prior to the trip. That morning itself, I did a quick search on google and emailed a few schools to enquire if they have a vacant slot for the afternoon.
After a few minutes of waiting, the anxiety took over. I decided to call them up to enquire, rather than waiting in vain, lest they don’t check their email every hour of the day.
The first school I called up was Payuk Bali. Turns out they have a class taking place in the afternoon at 3.30pm that I can join. Hooray!
After picking me up from the villa in a mini van, our guide, Agung, brought us (a nice couple from Africa, Wandile and Given, and I) to the local market and the rice paddy field before heading to a family compound for our cooking class.
The local market is always bustling with activities in the mornings. We arrived in the late afternoon, so we didn’t experience the shoving and squeezing.
We arrived at a local house.
It is nothing majestic or elaborate –just a typical Balinese home where we will be learning how to cook authentic Balinese cuisine.
A sign plate, stating the address and number of residents, is compulsory at the entrance of every Balinese house. This is to facilitate the tracking of citizens in the country.
After exploring the house, we headed to a refurbished area that is dedicated to hosting cooking classes. It is clean and uncluttered.
We were served a light snack before our class commenced.
It was a hands-on cooking class, where we prepared 8 dishes from scratch.
That’s me in the picture, chopping up the ingredients, and Given and Wandile in the background. Given’s occupation involves IT computing while his wife, Wandile, is an attorney. The couple worked harmoniously together in the kitchen, though Given is the one who usually does the cooking back in their home.
Recipe 1: Balinese Multipurpose spice base (Base Gede)
The Balinese Multipurpose spice base, known as Base Gede in Indonesian, is the most valuable recipe you’ll need in Balinese cooking. It is the foundation of many Balinese dishes, whether as a flavour base, a sauce, or a marinade for meats; it is multipurpose.
- 50g ginger (Jahe)
- 100g galangal (Lengkuas)
- 100g tumeric (Kunyit)
- 25g candle nut (Kemiri)
- 400g garlic (Bawang putih)
- 500g shallot (Bawang merah)
- 100g red chilli (Cabe besar)
- 15g black pepper (Merica hitam)
- 15g coriander seed (Ketumbar)
- 25g aromatic ginger (Kencur)
- ½ tbs nutmeg (Pala)
- ½ tbs clove (Cengkeh)
- 2 pcs lemongrass (Sereh)
- 5 pcs lime leaf (Daun jeruk)
- 5 pcs bay leaf (Daun salam)
- 25g palm sugar (Gula Bali)
- 1 tbs shrimp paste (Terasi)
1) Wash and peel all ingredients.
2) Cut them up into smaller pieces for easy pounding/blending.
3) Place ingredients into food processor or mortar and blend everything to a smooth paste. (All ingredients except lime leaf, bay leaf, lemongrass)
For authentic flavour, pound the ingredients manually with a pestle in a stone mortar.
4) Heat the paste in a pan.
5) Add the remaining ingredients (lime leaf, bay leaf and lemongrass)
6) Cook over medium heat until aroma exudes.
7) Keep it in the fridge or freezer if you’re not planning to use it on the same day. (We’ll be using this spice paste in the next recipe)
Recipe 2: Fresh cucumber in tumeric broth (Sup Timun)
- 50g spice paste (Base Gede)
- 25g coconut milk (Santan)
- 100g green cucumber (Timun Hijau)
- 25g black eye peas (Kacang Undis)
- 25g red kidney bean (Kacang Merah)
- 50g fresh tomato (Tomat segar)
- 200ml chicken stock (Kaldu ayam)
- 100g small shrimp crackers (Krupuk Udang kecil)
1) Sauté the spice paste (Recipe 1: Base Gede) with a little oil.
2) Add chicken stock and bring to boil.
3) Add black eye peas, red kidney bean, coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
4) Season with salt and pepper. Taste.
5) Add cucumber and tomato, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
6) Serve hot with a side of crackers and garnish with fried shallot.
Recipe 3: Yellow Rice (Nasi Kuning)
Nasi Kuning refers to the yellow rice dish that is served at ceremonial events, such as parties or other kinds of festive occasions. It is also a popular breakfast dish in Bali, accompanied by fried chicken, shredded omelette and spicy condiments. The rice is cooked with fresh tumeric to produce a vibrant yellow hue that is a symbol of good fortune.
- 1kg rice
- 500ml coconut milk
- 1 lt plain water
- 3 pcs lime leaves
- 3 pcs bay leaves
- 1 cup Base Gede
(Judging from the weight of rice called for in this recipe, you can probably feed a troop. It’s probably just a guideline on the ratio of ingredients.)
You can most certainly decrease the portion size; just remember to keep the ratio constant.
1) Soak rice for about 15 minutes, wash, rinse and change the water. Do this repeatedly until water is clear and no longer murky.
2) On a stovetop, heat water in a rice steamer. Add the clean rice and steam for about 20 minutes until rice becomes hard and sticky.
3) On the other stovetop, heat water, coconut cream and Base Gede (Recipe 1) in a stockpot. Add in the lime leaves, bay leaves, salt, pepper and lemongrass stalk. Stir using a wooden spatula over a medium heat.
4) Take out the semi-cooked rice from the steamer, pour into a stainless steel bowl and pour the yellow spice mixture over.
5) Allow it to soak for approximately 15 minutes.
6) Once the water is absorbed, stir the rice. Return the rice to the preheated steamer and steam for another 25 minutes.
Recipe 4: Vegetable salad with peanut sauce (Gado Gado)
- 100g long beans, chopped into bite-sized length and blanched
- 1 cup bean sprout, blanched
- 100g spinach, blanched
- ¼ cabbage chopped and blanched
- 4 bean curd (Tempeh), sliced and deep-fried
- 4 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges
- 2 tsp shallot, sliced and fried
- ½ cup peanut sauce
Peanut sauce (makes 4 servings):
- 300g peanuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 shallots
- Aromatic ginger
- 125g brown sugar (palm sugar)
- Fresh or dried chilli pepper
- Fresh lime juice
1) Fry the peanuts until golden brown, remove from pan and leave to cool.
2) Grind the peanuts into a paste.
3) Add fresh chilli pepper, garlic, salt, brown sugar and aromatic ginger to the peanut paste. Grind everything together into a paste.
4) Heat peanut paste in a pan. Add some water to dissolve (or use coconut milk for a richer taste).
5) Add sweet sour sauce into the pan to taste and bring to a boil.
6) Simmer peanut sauce until water has evaporated and a thick consistency is formed.
7) Season with lemon or limejuice.
8) Plate the salad and serve peanut sauce alongside.
In my next Balinese Cooking post, I’ll be sharing the recipe for: fish skewer, grilled fish in banana leaf, Balinese fried chicken and a dessert of braised banana in palm sugar.
Check out my previous Bali posts here:
Bali, Ubud; a heartwarming experience; an unplanned adventure
Petanu River Villa