Cuisine Glossary

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Balinese Cuisine

Cuisine of the day A general perception about Balinese cooking is hot , strong tastes, or others said so rich . Indeed the term of Balinese cooking is to refer the whole specialties known by Balinese in Bali. Seen from Balinese point of view the cooking can be grouped as human food and cooking for Bali ceremony or Bali rituals. At the other group it can be classified as Bali daily meals and snacks.

Daily meals for Balinese is simply rice Since immemorial time Balinese eat rice as the largest part composing the menu. It forms almost 90% for every portion of meal quota. So, Balinese word for meal is nasi means rice. In the past when transportation between island was not yet developed and the species of rice only depend on one type which harvest was only once a year it was often short of rice in Bali. Bali in this era as a supplement of the main foodstuff were used corn, yam and taro. Rice was mixed with one of these than cooked by hot vapors or directly put in boiling water. Nasi that is cooked in boiling water in Bali is called nasi bubuh , while that is cooked in hot vapors in Bali called nasi kuskus When the rice is cooked in boiling water the seeds can expand three or four times the dried size, while cooking by hot vapors expand at the maximum of 2.5 times dried size.

Flavor is the most important part of Balinese cooking in Bali. Vegetables, meats and fish are used as flavors instead of main meals portion. For the cooking of vegetables, meats and fish there are available various type of recipes with strong tastes. Balinese knows the concept of making certain natural taste of meat become stronger or make it weaker or even change the natural tastes. Natural taste of chicken for example can be made much more stronger by adding the extract of leaves pick up from Janggar Ulan tree, or make the taste of cow meat very strong using a kind of curcuma called bangle, and so on. The main ingredients of Balinese cooking taste maker are chili, onion, garlic, yellow curcuma, ginger, and various rizomas that grow in Bali. Basically for main meals tend to taste hot with balanced salt. Recently with the availability of instant flavors produced in mass production such as Soya sauce, Aji Nomoto, and the extract of chicken, many Bali families and food stalls in Bali use these easy and quick flavors. Despite the fact that historically Balinese is closer to Javanese, but in food, is contradictory. Javanese tend to cook everything with sweet taste, but Balinese cooking is almost having the same tastes as West Sumatra Cooking, known as Padang food. The different is, Padang food using to much coconut santan ( extract of coconut meat ), while Balinese food using much coconut oil for frying. Some authentic Balinese cooking can be mentioned in brief here.

Lawar; is mixed vegetable with coconut meat which tastes is sharpened with natural favors. There are many type of lawars based on the materials for composing the cooking, such as red lawar, and white lawar which is a large part made of coconut meat, and other is vegetable and meat. Not all kind of vegetables can be cooked into lawar, normally made of young bean fruit, jack fruit and carambol leaves are popular. On Bali highland young fern leave is very favorite beside papaya fruit. The main material such as jack fruit, young bean fruit, papaya, young fern leaves are sliced into very small pieces, while coconut meat is grated in many shapes such as into very small irregular pieces or very thin layers, depending on the shape of the preferred grater. The natural recipes such as chili, onion, garlic, black poivre, salt and others are sliced into it's most smallest pieces possible and mixed together called basa rajang or in short rajang or all of these spices are sliced in regular shape into very shin slices and then fried in coconut oil which is called sambal emba or in short emba . Prepared lawar using rajang resulting different taste from preparation by emba. Lawar is the most favorite cooking during religious ceremony, family rituals or any family activities involving many persons. Lawar is the most popular in Bali. If there is a ceremony or any event of Bali tradition, lawar is the first plan in cooking activity.

Pesan, is mixed meat and vegetables or coconut or fish with raja or emba, wrapped in banana leaves then cooked in hot vapors. There are many type of pesan known depending on which material is preponderant in composing the unit. Based on this, like lawar, Balinese introduces coconut pesan, young fern pasan, jack fruit pesan, fish pesan and others.

Sate Lilit, is crashed meat by pounding it into very smooth and sticky than mixed with grated coconut meat. The meat or fish is selected only the good part, the pure flesh only. The flavors of the sate lilit is the third known recipes after rajang and emba called basa gede , means strong favor. Basa gede is made of the same ingredients but the way to prepare is by pounding altogether in a lesung or stone crasher called penyantokan Lesung is made of a piece of wood which top is scoped into a hole around 15 cm diameter and 20 cm deep. A pounder called lu is also made of hard wood or palm tree. Crashed meat or fish is given sufficient basa gede and grated coconut, mixed and peeled until sticky. When it is sticky enough then it is put on the top of sticks. The sticks are normally made of bamboo or coconut leave stem. The size of the stick is normally around 15 cm length and 2 mm thickness. To cook this finished sate either fried or grilled.

Calon, the preparation of materials is the same as the in making sate lilit. Only the meat normally used is chicken and traditionally made during Kuningan ritual coming every 210 days. The materials are formed into small balls with the diameter around 1 cm, than fried in coconut oil.

Betutu, is prepared from chicken or duck. The chicken or duck after being cleaned is taken out its' head, legs, and intestinal parts. Young cassava leaves are mixed with basa rajang or emba than filled into the inner body of the duck or chicken than tied with coconut stem fibers. To cook this meat there are 3 ways normally used. The long known tradition is to put the meat or wrap it in a areca fibers than cooked in vapors. Secondly without wrapping cooked in hot vapors, then grilled. The third is put it in boiled water, then grilled. Betutu is very favorite in Kabupaten Gianyar, especially in Ubud area. Today almost the whole Bali even the areas outside Bali have enjoyed betutu as the most succulent meal.

Guling, is the most famous Bali cooking. Guling in English has been translated in good meaning as suckling pig Bali suckling pig gives specific tastes which pig taste is almost changed totally by the recipes. Basically the preparation is almost the same as Betutu, but it using basa gede much more in number with a big portion of black poivre in the basa gede.

Nasi and Jaja

Balinese put in contrast between main meal o nasi with it's flavors and supplements at one side, and snacks or Jaja in Balinese at the other side. Jaja is made with tendency of sweet tastes, totally in contrast from nasi. Some of European food for Balinese is a Jaja, such as pizza, croissants, and various breads with it's flavors and all McDonald products are for Balinese basically are Jaja. The principle habit is that, traditional Balinese can never live with Jaja, although they ate full stomach of Jaya they don't feel satisfied, and will have nasi immediately. Some persons they will feel hungry even after eating Jaja. We do not write about Jaja in detail here since both types and tastes are so many including those used in rituals. Most Jaja having relation with religious rituals, and by variation a large parts are made only for the need of those Bali rituals. Jaja for rituals showing more artistic aspects from shape to color. Each shape brings a meaning or symbolic meaning, just as complex as young coconut leaves offering called Jajaitan There are still many types of Bali cooking, but it is not very popular such as tipat, bantal, kuskus, and others. It is correct that foreigners say that Bali is rich with cooking.

Source: HungryMonster Writers