Some of the best food in Indonesia can be found in Bali. And with more with an influx of people to support new restaurants, the food scene is changing constantly. But many of the new restaurants have western influences, and so they don’t necessarily serve authentic Balinese food. And thus traditional Balinese food has not received the recognition it truly deserves.
You can find amazing restaurants serving many types of food across the island. They range from local food stalls called warungs to high end and trendy restaurants that cater to foreigners. You can read about beach clubs in Bali that I recommend or my list of best bars in Bali, But this article is intended to spotlight some traditional food in Bali that you should learn if you decide to travel here.
As a note, nasi goreng is definitely a traditional Indonesian food, but it is not Balinese. If you come to Bali, here are 8 traditional Balinese foods you should try!
Babi guling is especially popular amongst domestic visitors as a must-have food in Bali. Similar to Lechon of the Philippines, babi guling is a whole pig spit-roasted over an open fire. This is stuffed with up to 10 different spices and served with a bunch of Balinese condiments (Lawar, Sate, Banana stem soup, etc). It’s my favorite local food in Bali.
Many locals believe that the best part of Babi Guling is the crispy skin. A secret tip: you can typicall order another portion of crispy skin. If you like fattier pieces, ask for the pig ear and knuckles, which is often an off-menu item.
Where to Find Babi Guling in Bali
Lawar is a traditional Balinese dish made of meat, veggies, coconut, and spices that are chopped and mixed together. There are more than a hundred versions of Lawar, but common versions are green bean lawar, pig head lawar (often served in babi guling stalls), and palm heart lawar.
The meats in lawar these days are often pork or chicken, but sometimes includes the blood of the animal used. If blood is added, then it may be referred to as lawar merah (red lawar). And without blood, it may be referred to as lawar putih (white lawar).
Where to Find Lawar in Bali
Ayam betutu is a steamed chicken dish known for its rich flavor and succulent meat. It is made with a mixture of garlic, turmeric, chili, shallots, galangal, candle nuts, and other spices. The chicken is then wrapped in banana leaf and steamed for 3-6 hours.
Ayam betutu can be served in different ways. You can find it as a condiment of nasi campur, served half/whole, or even a fried version! This is an authentic Balinese food that likely appeals to foreigners from all over.
Where to Find Ayam Betutu in Bali
Bebek Goreng translates to fried duck. It is a common dish in Indonesia, and Bali has its own unique version. Balinese fried duck is marinated with shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, and a few other spices. The duck is usually served halved with rice, kangkung (water spinach), and sambal matah (Balinese sambal made with coconut oil).
What makes traditional Balinese fried duck different is they use free-range duck. You will find that the meat is leaner with cleaner tasting fat.
Where to Find Bebek Goreng in Bali
Mujair nyat-nyat is an authentic Balinese dish that originates from Kintamani. The dish is made of local tilapia, fried before drenched with a Balinese spice mix called base genep.
The local tilapia called Mujair taste, properly prepared. This is where the spice mix comes in and elevates the dish to another level. Mujair nyat-nyat is a little spicy, but the highlight would be the fresh mixture of lemongrass, coriander, and citrus.
Where to Find Mujair Nyat-Nyat in Bali
Siobak is a little different from the other traditional Balinese dishes. Commonly found in Singaraja (North Bali), it is a dish that is heavily influenced by the Chinese population in Bali. Siobak can be found all over Indonesia, it consists of pork offals that are braised in a sweet sauce made of cloves, fermented bean, cinnamon, and other ingredients.
What makes Balinese siobak different is the thicker consistency of the sauce, whereas siobak in Java is often more soupy.
Where to Find Siobak in Bali
Jimbaran Style Seafood
You can find different styles of grilled seafood across Indonesia. But one thing seems certain, Indonesians love grilled seafood marinated with sweet sauces. A famous style coming out of Jimbaran involves a mixture of sweet and spicy marinade.
The marinade is a key part of a grilled seafood meal in Bali, but it is as important for the fish to be fresh. Fortunately, Bali is surrounded by the ocean and thus has a great selection of fresh fish, lobster, squid, clams, and other seafood.
Where to Find Jimbaran Seafood in Bali
Sate is another typical Indonesian dish that can be found across the country. Two types of sate that are local to Bali are sate babi and sate lilit. Sate babi is grilled pork skewers marinated with sweet spices, served with rice cakes. While sate lilit is minced meat that is commonly wrapped on a stick of lemongrass, giving the meat a fresh and aromatic note. Sate lilit can be made of different kinds of meat, and one of the local favorites is made with fish.
Where to Find Sate in Bali
That’s my list for 8 traditional Balinese foodsyou should try in Bali. Make sure to add them on your go-to list the next time you are visiting the Island of Gods, enjoy!