Influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisine, the Balinese are fantastic at integrating the two to present a delightful combo of dishes which can douse out your hunger pangs. Known to be meat lovers, the Balinese can whip up meals of global fame such as Ayam Betutu, Nasi Ayam and Nasi Campur, to name a few. The food here is diverse, delicious and affordable. Here are some of the Balinese dishes favourite amongst locals!
1. Nasi AyamNasi Ayam is one of the most ubiquitous highlights of Balinese cuisine; this dish is a must-try for every foodie out there! Comprising of shredded chicken, satay, boiled egg, roasted peanuts, french bean salad, sambal and a bowl of steamed rice; this dish is guaranteed to take you on a wild ride exploring the variety of flavours that it has to offer. The satay made of fish is marinated along with the chicken and grilled to perfection. The former is served on a stick, whereas the latter is served shredded. The peanuts add a crunch and take the dish to a whole new level!
Where to find: Warung Nasi Ayam Ibu Oki, Badung (opens 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM); Nasi Ayam Kadewatan Bumangku, Denpasar (opens 8:00 AM to 9:00PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 43,000 to 46,000
2. Ayam BetutuA bowl of steamed rice accompanied by chunks of chicken bathed in chilli sambal with the satay, salad and peanuts makes up the dish. Traditionally, the chicken is first braised and then smoked. It is broken down into chunks and is served with chilli sambal and Sambal Matah. Sambal Matah makes up for the lack of the other side-dishes and serves as a Kickstarter for your tastebuds.
Where to find: Warung Nasi Ayam Ibu Oki, Nusa Dua (opens 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM); Ayam Betutu KR, Badung (opens 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 50,000
3. LawarThis is the undisputed king of all coconut-based dishes out there and is a go-to dish as a starter. It is primarily made from coconut gratings to which minced jackfruit and bits of chicken skin along with chillies and coconut milk are added. Jackfruit, along with coconut milk, serves to bring out the fruity sweetness of the dish while the chicken skin makes it a bit chewy. All of these ingredients are mixed by hand and are traditionally served on a banana leaf.
Where to find: Lawar Bali Kartika, Denpasar (opens 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM); Kuwar Kuwir Lawar, Gianyar (opens 11:00 AM to 5:00PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 7,000 to IDR 10,000
4. Babi GulingA favourite amongst food critics, Babu Guling, is one of those Balinese dishes that is unique in terms of preparation. A whole pig is stuffed with spices and is sealed. Two stands are set up over which the pork is grilled to a smoky red colour. The skin is crisp is preserved, and the meat is finely shredded. Satay, Lawar, pork skin, shredded pork meat, and rice are served along with pork soup. Chunks of pork meat are present in this steaming hot soup which also has a hint of green onions and cilantro.
The satay made of pork is roasted to perfection and is served on a skewer. At times to make the dish even better, the soup can be added to the main dish, making you savour every bite that you take. Definitely, no missing out on this one!
Where to find: Babi Guling Pak Dobiel, Badung (opens 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM); Warung Babi Guling Sanur (opens 11:00 AM to 7:00PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 50,000
5. KleponSweets are considered an integral part of any culture. Well, the Balinese leave no stone unturned when it comes to savouring sweets. Made from boiled rice cakes filled with palm sugar and covered in coconut gratings, these are one of the sweetest delights that you will ever come across. They are usually available in small plastic boxes and have a massive demand in the Balinese market.
Where to find: Pasar Senggol, Gianyar market (opens 10:00 AM to 9:30 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 1,000
6. Fish Head SoupConsidered a delicacy, the fish head soup cooks the whole fish, eyes, teeth and all, which are boiled in a broth to which various spices are added. Traditionally, cucumber is added to it too. This serves to cool the soup while the broth imparts its flavour to the fish.
It is usually served with fried fish and a bowl of rice. The fish is fried to a golden brown and crispy on the outside while being tender on the inside. It is succulent at best and instantly melts in your mouth. This food of Bali is a must-have for all fish lovers!
Where to find: Warung Mak Beng, Sanur (opens 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM); Ku De Ta, Badung (opens 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM)
Approximate cost: IDR 45,000
7. Tipat CantokOne of the few vegetarian Balinese dishes that anyone can find with ease on the island, it is made from peanut sauce, rice cakes steamed in palm leaves, cabbage and baby green sprouts, these are mixed thoroughly and drizzled with sweet soy sauce. It has a sweet and salty taste with neither one overpowering the other. The peanut sauce is made by crushing peanuts, garlic and chillies together on a stone mortar using a pesto. These old school methods are what makes this dish so delicious.
Where to find: Pasar Senggol, Gianyar market (opens 10:00 AM to 9:30 PM); Warung Mak Beng, Sanur (opens 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 7,000
8. Es DalumenNeed a way to beat the heat? This signature power drink or food of Bali is the one that you’re looking for! A dessert drink made of coconut milk and palm sugar with jelly, which is made from Dalumen leaves, which are great for hypertension and digestion.The jelly in the drink gives it a whole new experience to your taste buds.
Where to find: Can be found in any marketplace
Approximate cost: IDR 12,000
9. DurianNicknamed the ‘king of fruits’, it is found predominantly in Indonesia and is consumed regularly. Its outer covering is greenish-yellow and has a spiky appearance in addition to the oval shape. Used in several milkshakes and dishes even though it has a pungent smell which is quite overpowering goes on to prove that it is the undisputed king of fruits. Most people prefer eating this raw.
Where to find: Can be found in any marketplace
Approximate cost: IDR 4,000
10. Nasi GorengThis is an all-time favourite food of Bali. Various spices are mixed to form a thick paste which is subsequently added to boiled rice and cooked on a slow flame. Loads of vegetables are added along with chicken meat or beef, which have been previously marinated and fried to perfection. To the very end, butter is added to this mountain of fried rice to make it all the more sumptuous and better.
Where to find: Raja Nasi Goreng, Denpasar (opens 11:00 AM to 11:00AM); Warung Padmasari, Badung (opens 9:30 AM to 11:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 15,000 - IDR 37,000
11. Ares SoupA part of the royal Balinese cuisine, this Balinese dish is one of the most wholesome soups anyone will ever come across! Salt is added to finely chopped banana stalk, and the mixture is pressed to make it devoid of its juices and get rid of the moisture. Turmeric and bay leaves among other spices are added along with chunks of chicken which are mixed thoroughly and put on a low flame. It is then boiled in a closed vessel where the spices and condiments work their wonders and result in a praiseworthy soup!
Where to find: Cuca Restaurant, Badung (opens 12:00 PM to 12:00 AM); Coup D’eat, Badung (opens 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM)
Approximate cost: IDR 20,000
12. SerombotanIn need of a light snack? We’ve got you covered. A mixture of various items starting with bean sprouts, spinach, green banana slices, soybeans, peanuts, topped with coconut and peanut sauce along with sambal, this is one of the healthiest food of Bali you will come across. The vegetables are crisp; the banana is a wacky addition, and the peanuts add a crunch to every bite taken. The coconut sauce enhances the taste and takes it to a whole new level. Traditionally, this dish is served in a paper cone.
Where to find: Pasar Senggol, Gianyar market (opens 10:00 AM to 9:30 PM); Serombotan Klungkung, Denpasar (opens 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 5,000
13. Sate LilitSate is known for coming in all shapes and sizes. Beef and pork being prominent in Bali are usually served in Sate instead of chicken. However, Sate Lilit are made from pork and are smoked over charcoal to give them a charred taste. Served on sticks, these are dipped into peanut sauce and are topped with garlic flakes. The meat is tender and chewy and has a sweet taste to it. Another variation of this is the beef sate.
Where to find: Warung Sate Babi Nyoman Bledor (opens 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM); Warung Satelit, Denpasar (opens 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 22,000 to 25,000
14. Be LindungThis food of Bali is made from eels. Eels are either gathered fresh from local water bodies or bought from the market. The eel is cleaned out by hand, post which they are deep-fried until they are crispy. Roasted coconut gratings are mixed with these fried eels and are served smokin’ hot. It is usually had with rice and sambal.
Where to find: Locavore, Gianyar (opens 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM); Warung Nia, North Kuta (opens 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 30,000 to 36,000
15. Nasi CampurCampur loosely translates to a mix of everything. This is another offshoot to Nasi Ayam which comprises of the same dish but has an add-on that comes along with it, i.e. chicken soup. Flavour is imparted to it by boiling chicken bones for the broth and adding various spices (primarily turmeric) to it. It serves as a great lunch and is good for a quick fill.
Where to find: Gianyar market, Sanur Night market; Warung makar teges
Approximate cost: IDR 25,000
16. Kunyit AsamTurmeric is a spice which has got several health benefits, and this ingredient plays a vital role in the food of Bali. It works as an antiseptic and comes in very handy for curing various diseases. Kunyit Asam is a turmeric-based drink which has two variants - one with lime and the other with tamarind. It tastes a bit sour, but then hey health comes at a price!
Where to find: Warung Damar, Badung (opens 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM); Livingwell, Badung (opens 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 25,000
17. Jaje BaliAn assortment of 5 - 6 different sweets on the same plate ranging from Jaje Bendu to Jaje Pisang rai. They are either made from tapioca or sticky rice. Most of these sweets are covered with coconut gratings and palm sugar. These are not overwhelmingly sweet and serve to hit your sweet tooth right on the spot.
Where to find: Sanur Night Market
Approximate cost: IDR 15,000
18. Ururtan SausagePork intestines are used to make Ururtan sausages while the remainder of the pig serves as a base for various other dishes like Babi Guling, pork soup and other pork-related dishes. The intestines are first sun-dried, filled with a filling, marinated in sweet chilli sauce and subsequently deep fried. This local food of Bali is usually served with sambal Matah and roasted peanuts.
Where to find: Bambu, Badung (opens 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM); Merah Putih, Badung (opens 12:30 PM to 11:30 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 35,000 to IDR 40,000
19. Kopi TubrukBalinese coffee is made in a way that sets it apart from the rest. Piping hot water is poured into a glass containing coffee beans and is left untouched for 5 - 6 minutes. The beans impart their flavour and remain settled at the bottom of the glass. You can then proceed to drink the coffee while avoiding the beans. In terms of taste, it is somewhat similar to Turkish coffee.
Where to find: Kopi Bali, Ubud (opens 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM); Crumb and Coaster, Badung (opens 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 10,000
20. RujakThis food of Bali is a fruit salad. Green mango, papaya and yam beans are diced and mixed with shrimp paste which makes it a bit salty. It is drizzled with chilli sauce and is finally dressed with palm sugar. Overall, the taste varies between two extreme ends ranging from sweet to chilly to salty.
Where to find: Gula Bali the Joglo, Denpasar (opens 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 7,000 to IDR 8,000
21. Es CendolAnother drink on the list! This one’s made from droplets of rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar. The rice flour jelly imparts a colourful look to the drink while the coconut milk serves to sweeten it a bit. Occasionally, cubes of ice or crushed ice may be added to cool down the drink.
Indeed, a refreshing drink that shouldn’t be missed out on!
Where to find: Solo Jimbaran, Kapubaten Badung (opens 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM); Es Cendol Solo, Denpasar (opens 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 6,000 to IDR 8,000
22. Mujair NyatnyatSomewhere between a stew and a curry, this exquisite fish based food of Bali has a lot to offer. ‘Mujair’ being a type of fish, is entirely cooked inclusive of its head and tail. It is marinated with a ton of herbs and spices and is caked with them before cooking. It is cooked in an open vessel until its moderately done. Served with rice, spinach, peanuts and sambal Matah; the fish tastes nutty and has a hint of lemongrass.
Where to find: Warung Kintamani, Ubud (opens 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM); Danau Batur, Gianyar (opens 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 35,000
23. MartabakNeed the perfect occasion to erupt in joy? Guess what?! This is it! Martabak is the Indonesian version of a pancake loaded with a ton of toppings like Toblerone, Nutella, peanuts, chocolate sprinkles, butter, cheese and condensed milk. The pancake is folded in half and cut through evenly such that the toppings remain in the middle, causing the flavours to explode and leaving you in a state of contentment, making you savour every bite of this dessert.
Where to find: Sedap Mantap Martabak & Terang Bulang, Denpasar (opens 02:00 PM to 10:00 PM); Warung Bunana, Badung (opens 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM)
Approximate cost: IDR 130,000
24. BaksoBakso translates to meatballs is a commonly eaten food of Bali. It can be served with egg noodles, flat noodles or vermicelli. Vegetables are tossed in to make it even better and eventually, a broth is added, thereby making it a fragrant mix of both noodles and soup.
For visual appeal, it can be served in a coconut and topped with loads of other sauces.
Where to find: Garage Meat Ball, Badung (opens 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM); Made's Warung, Badung (opens 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM)
Approximate cost: IDR 13,000
25. Ikan BakarThis loosely translates to burned fish in English. A fish of your choice is selected and is marinated with turmeric, chilli and garlic sauces among loads of other seasonings. It is then smoked with charcoal to make the fish gain a charred taste. The meat is tender and delicious, causing it to melt in your mouth. It is usually served with sambal.
Where to find: Pondok Rasa, Badung (opens 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM); Ikan Bakar Musiara, Denpasar (opens 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM)Also, if you intend to transform into a fire breathing human, help yourself with loads of red chilli sambal that is an ingredient that is used in almost every Balinese dish. It is the secret ingredient that makes the food of Bali the delicious cuisine that it currently is.
Approximate cost: IDR 220,000