Balinese Food and Drinks
Bali offers a large variety of food and drinks due to its abundance of supplies (fresh fruits and vegetables and rice). Rice is not only important to the Indonesian diet but also to the country’s trade. Indonesia is said to have some of the greatest rice growers in the world. Its position near the equator and fertile soils are ideal for growing rice. Food Balinese food on a day-to-day basis is generally simple. There daily meals vary only a little from day to day. Daily meals consist of a mixture of rice, fresh vegetables, peanuts, sometimes meats (like chicken or pork) and always flavored with a wide array of spices like Chilli.
Balinese people generally do not have set times of the day to eat their meals like people in the western world. The Balinese will eat when they feel hungry. Their daily food is always prepared in advance early in the morning, by the women of the family compound. The prepared food is then left in pots and covered with palm leaves for the extended family to eat when they are hungry. Only during special ceremonies will the Balinese family eat together with other family members. Ceremonial food in Bali is quite different from their day to day meals. The whole process food preparation is a local community effort with the whole banjar taking specific roles in preparing the meals
The Banjar men are up early in the morning about 3am or 4am on the day of the feast and slaughter an animal (using pigs and or chickens) for its meat. The men are also given the role of cooking the meat in the temple, whist the women’s role is to make the rice and vegetable dishes to go together with the cooked meat. The Banjar can consist of 200 to 500 or more people.
Some common Balinese festive foods include:
- Nasi Goreng is fried rice mixed with meat and vegetables
- Mei Goreng is fried noodles
- Babi Guling is roast suckling pig
- Betutu Bebek is duckling roasted in banana leaf Lawar is a Balinese salad combining shredded meats, coconut, papaya and spices
- Sate Ayam (chicken), babi (pork), goat or turtle meat covered in peanut sauce, skewered on bamboo sticks and cooked over open fire.
It’s important that the food is divided into small portions and some is laid out neatly square of banana leaves as an offering to the gods. In Bali meals are eaten using their right hand whilst seated on the floor. The left hand is believed to be unclean and is never used for eating. It is custom that the person requesting a second serving of food, must first eat everything on their plate or if they do not want more food, they should leave a small amount of food on their plate. Bali has a wonderful variety of tropical fruits available all year.
The most popular fruits include durian, pineapple, papaya, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, rambutan, mangosteen, snakeskin, avocados and coconuts.
Coconuts are available throughout the island. They are used by the Balinese people for many preparations in their day to day life:
• Tree’s palms have oil in them which can be extracted and used for cooking oil and lamp oil. The oil is used to sweeten drinking water.
• Coconut meat itself in used in Balinese traditional meal Lawar.
• The coconut outer nut is used as fuel to cook meals like Sate Ayam (chicken or pork).
• Leaves are used for wrapping food when cooking, at markets or to wrap offerings to the gods. The flesh of the coconut is used in a lot of cooking.
• Wood of the coconut tree trunk is used in the construction of homes, buildings and furniture.
• Tree’s flower buds are used for their gum (a sticky substance extracted from the flower, like to sap). Once this gum is extracted it is used in the production of palm beer, a local drink.
Many Balinese have strong spiritual beliefs. Food is frequently used as an offering to the gods and delightfully prepared packages of food can often be seen at temples and shrines all around Bali. Offerings are presented daily to gods and spirits.
The Balinese traditional drinks made from local produce. Iced juices using any one of their many tropical fruits are very popular, especially amongst tourists. These exotics mixes are often called the ‘nectar of the gods’. Water, tea and coffee are consumed by the local Balinese. As tea is produced locally, there are many different types.
Es campur is a lumpy and brightly-colored drink made from a variety of local fruits. It can be a very sweet drink that consist of ice, palm sugar syrup, tapioca, coconut, gelatine and other season fruits.
There are a number of alcoholic drinks that the Balinese men drink. Most of them use the fermenting of rice as their main ingredient.
Brem drink is distilled from brown and white rice. After distillation yeast is then mixed into cooked rice. The mixture is then wrapped in palm leaves and left to rest for about one week. The rice in the palm leaves is then squeezed to extract the alcoholic juice.