I frequently get asked the same questions to do with Indonesian and Balinese foods. Friends, family and even strangers here on the island will ask me for recommendations, suggestions and to explain what many things are. I have created this little explanation of my favourite meals to help and guide you while in Bali, Indonesia
1. Lalapan – Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) A piece of chicken (I always go for the ‘paha’ or leg cut) traditionally fried and served with a bed of white rice, cabbage, cucumber, mint leaves and of course spicy Balinese sambal. You can add the delicious tempe and tofu for extras (as I do). Don’t worry if you aren’t a fan of spicy foods, you can always ask for less chilli when ordering. When eating Lalapan at traditional warungs or street stalls, it is acceptable to eat with you hands, at least that’s how the locals do it. Make sure you use the small bowl of water to wash your hands before and after eating and remember right hand only is for food when in Bali. Lalapan is my favourite meal for dinner!
2. Mie Kuah (noodle soup)
A traditional, yet simple dish. Each warung or restaurant will create their own unique flavour of soup but most are generally similar, with a chicken flavour present. I tend to add egg, tofu and vegetables to make it a more wholesome and nutritional meal. Many times I have thought it would be a lighter option for a meal, but generally Mie Kuah can come in a large bowl with a lot of food included, but lucky it is delicious!
3. Nasi Campur (‘mixed bag’ & rice)
Literally translates to a ‘mix’ and rice. Most warungs you can choose what you would like to have but some will have it already set in stone what goes in their Nasi Campur. Anything from chicken, fish, tofu, tempe, egg, vegetables, and different sauces which range from spicy chilli sambals, curries and soupy liquids. This is defiantly a go to meal almost every day for me as it offers such a wide variety of delicious Balinese flavours as well as a very cheap price tag, mostly depending on what you select.
4. Mie Goreng(fried noodle) Nothing compares to traditional Balinese Mie Goreng when you feel hunger coming. The flavours that are created along with the noodles may differ slightly from place to place but you are always guaranteed to be impressed and satisfied. It is a go to meal for me if you need to stomach a simple meal (which in Bali may be often). You can add meat, tofu, eggs and vegetables as you please as well as the spiciness your tastebuds can handle.
5. Nasi Goreng (fried rice)
The traditional Balinese Fried Rice. Any fried rice you have had in western countries, doesn’t even come close to the delicious flavours that the Balinese can create. You can enjoy it on its own as a whole meal and by all means add meat, eggs and any extras that you wish. If ever you get the chance to see Nasi Goreng being traditionally cooked, definitely take up the opportunity as it is unique and amazing to see! Each warung can have their own style and flavour that is created but it generally will have a similar flavour across the island and by adding your own favourite sauce will definitely make you love it more.
6. Bakso (meat ball soup)
When your in Bali and you hear the tapping of a plate with a spoon, a funny sounding horn or a bicycle bell, it can be several things but generally it is a basko man wheeling around his cart of boiling broth, rice noodles and meat balls (chicken or beef, I prefer chicken). Basko is super cheap (anywhere around $1-$2). You can literally find it in the most random places, on the street, the beach, down alleyways and always at local markets. If you don’t wish to eat Bakso in the location you find it, there is the alternative of going and sitting at a warung that makes Bakso, although you might pay a little bit more. It is a great snack in between meals if you are feeling peckish.
8. Cap Cay
If you like your veggies like I do, you will love cap cay. It is literally a mix of vegetables from all the greens including cabbages, spinaches as well as carrots, beans and the occasional tomato. It is served in a thick, clear soupy sauce that is mixed with salts, stocks, the flavours of the veggies and the unique flavour of the chief. You can add egg and meat if you wish to also. It is definitely one of my favourites. You can also sometimes add small amounts of cap cay to you nasi campur as well!
9. Nasi Bungkus Served in a traditional banana leaf, Nasi Bungkus includes nasi (rice), mie (noodles), vegetables, tofu/tempe and meat (either fish, chicken or pork) depending on your choice. It is generally really cheap costing under $1. I tend to pick it up after a surf when I only have small money in my pocket. It is a delicious meal, with a mix of Balinese flavours. Ifor you like your chilli, the sambal will be sitting on a seperate cut of banana leaf when you open the package, but if you don’t fancy chilli just becareful when opening and remove the chilli sambal! 10. Soto Ayam (chicken soup) If you aren’t feeling too hungry but still want a meal that isn’t overly huge, then soto is for you. It is an oriental/chicken flavoured soup with rice and little vegetables. Soto is perfect for me when I have had a big lunch and looking for a light meal for dinner. I generally get it with added chicken (Ayam) and well as an egg.