Bali has often been described as heaven on earth, as close to paradise as we will ever be in this world. It is only natural that Bali’s cuisine is as spectacular as what we would expect to find in the afterlife.
Influenced by Indonesia, with a fair share of flavors and ingredients borrowed from India, Southeast Asia, China, and even the West, Balinese cuisine has fusion at its heart. Rice is a basic element of Balinese cuisine, but alongside the industrialized white rice that Westerners are familiar with travelers can find red rice, black rice (with black rice pudding being a dessert treat you simply have to try!), and padi gaga, a dry rice from the mountains.
Rice is just the starting point. Exotic fruits like papaya, mango, rambutan, makiza, and the smelly durian appear alongside cabbage, tomatoes, and other more familiar ingredients. Pork is a delicacy, with spit roasts frequent in every village. Perhaps surprisingly, and despite Bali being an island, fish is notably infrequent in the local diet.
Perhaps the one element which gives Balinese food its own particular character is the spices. Don’t think spicy hot, as in Mexican or Indian food - although some dishes pack plenty of heat if that’s what you want! Balinese spices enrich and change the flavors of all meals. Inspired and diverse combinations of garlic, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, and local treasures like galangal, sambal, trasi, and cekuh root create a universe of flavors. You could have the same dish every day and still experience it differently every time thanks to the wealth of spices.
The cuisine of Bali is something that simply has to be experienced. Stray away from the hotels and resorts, and visit the grass-roofed places with no walls, where the true flavors of Bali await. With elements both native and from beyond the sea, it is unique and wildly rich. It is simply unforgettable - like paradise itself.