Every Saturday evening, InterContinental Bali Resort offers its visitors and guests the opportunity to enjoy traditional Balinese cuisine at ‘The Spirit of Bali’ cultural dinner, accompanied by ‘Okokan’, ‘Tektekan’ and ‘Calonarang’ dance performances.

Considered to be one of the world’s most complex cuisines, Balinese food is an elaborate blend of fresh ingredients, intricate flavours and aromatic spices accomplished with an extraordinary dedication to preparation and cookery. There are no artificial flavourings or additives in Balinese food, only natural, local ingredients are used, while colourings are obtained only from natural plant sources such as red hibiscus flowers and green pandan leaves.

Everyday Balinese fare is comprised of rice, vegetables, egg and maybe a little meat or fish; this is known as ‘Nasi Campur’, and is usually cooked in the early morning, and consumed whenever the need arises. In contrast, ceremonial food is prepared in an elaborate and decorative manner and is eaten communally. Women prepare the daily meal, but only men may prepare the festival dishes, with the creation of a ritual feast being a full day’s work.

Balinese cuisine has been influenced by the diverse cultures of the Indonesian archipelago. Many of the distinctive tastes and cooking styles were inspired by the early Chinese, Indian, Arabic and Dutch traders and settlers. The foundation of an authentic Balinese meal is rice. Sauces are created with coconut milk and the fundamental coriander, pepper and garlic. flavour some curries rely on freshly ground spices; common seasonings include ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and tamarind. Balinese ‘bumbu’ is a basic spice paste that varies from village to village. Created from shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, galangal, pepper, coriander, candlenuts, chilies and lemongrass, together with salted and fermented shrimp, it is used to enliven and add depth to dishes. Hot fresh chili can be found in fiery accompanying sauces known as sambals, and peanuts are typically present as a garnish, or ground into a paste to form a sweet and spicy peanut sauce.

Some of Bali’s most distinctive and popular dishes include ‘Babi Guling’, which is Bali’s famous delicacy – a festive dish comprising slow-cooked spit roasted pig stuffed with aromatic leaves, onion, garlic and peppercorns, brushed with crushed turmeric and often served with ‘lawar’, a spicy raw meat mash. ‘Bebek Betutu’ is duck stuffed with spices, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a coconut-husk-fuelled earth-oven – this Balinese specialty is usually served with a tangy lemon sauce together with traditional accompaniments. ‘Satay’ is a serving of small kebabs of fish, chicken or beef, barbequed in the traditional style on hot coals and served on a bamboo stick with peanut sauce. ‘Pepes Ikan’ is a dish of fragrant, spiced local fish, traditionally wrapped, steamed and baked in banana leaf packages; the juices are contained inside the parcel and the experience is an explosion of moist smoky flavour.

And there’s more: ‘Gado-gado’ is a warm, fresh salad consisting of blanched, mixed vegetables, boiled potato, tofu, tempe, and hard-boiled egg served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. ‘Ayam Plecing’ is shredded chicken with snake beans, onion sambal and red shallots. ‘Lumpia’ is spring rolls; ‘Lontong’ is steamed rice in a banana leaf parcel; ‘Jukut Urap’ is mixed vegetables in coconut milk; ‘Sate Lilit’ is a satay of spiced, minced meat or fish with an infusion of coconut, pressed onto a lemon grass skewer; and ‘Kare Ikan Pelembang’ is a fish curry. Spicy salads include ‘Urab’ – a finely chopped medley of raw beans and chillies mixed with shrimp paste, shallots and grated coconut, while Cap Cay – originally a Chinese dish – consists of wok-tossed seasonal vegetables such as cauli flower, pepper, broccoli, carrot and cabbage.

Balinese desserts include ‘Kue Dadar’, which are little crepe parcels filled with palm sugar, vanilla and grated coconut. ‘Bubuh Injin’ is a sweet and sticky black rice pudding, named after the colour of the rice husk and served with coconut milk sauce. ‘Pisang goreng’ is banana fried in batter and served with syrup, and ‘Es campur’ is fruit salad with shredded ice. Finally, ‘Jajan Pasar’ is the name given to classic market-style cakes.

Relish an extensive buffet dinner of traditional hot and cold Balinese classics at ‘The Spirit of Bali’ – a cultural tribute to Balinese dance, music and culinary delights, every Saturday evening from 7pm onwards at Intercontinental Bali Resort’s Taman Gita Terrace. Be captivated by a series of sacred dance rituals performed by local villagers, showcasing the traditional artistry of Balinese dance and music. These culturally-inspired performances are all part of InterContinental Bali’s ongoing commitment to preserve and showcase the island’s cultural heritage and actively support local communities and their artistic legacies.

For your added enjoyment, a choice of free flow wines and selected local cocktails is available. The ‘Spirit of Bali’ experience is priced at Rp 520,000++ upwards per person.

About the Author

Share with us what you think about this article!

%d bloggers like this: