Category Food

Lawar – A Traditional Food Of Bali

Lawar Bali Photograph by Tania Gordon
Lawar Bali Photograph by Tania Gordon

If you’re adventurous and have a desire to connect with traditional Bali, you may be tempted to try lawar.

Lawar is a traditional Balinese dish prepared for ceremonies and other celebrations.

Its main ingredients are meat and vegetables cut into long, thin slivers and mixed with spices such as turmeric, shrimp paste, ginger and coconut.

Lawar is often made in large quantities to feed crowds of over a hundred people.

The meat in lawar is traditionally pork or turtle. Lawar babi (made with pork) remains the most popular choice in Bali.

Common variations include lawar ayam (made with chicken) to accommodate Muslim palates and even meatless lawar made with jackfruit, melons, mango or coconut.

Vegetarians beware: an important ingredient of traditional lawar is blood which lends it a red hue, hence the name lawar merah (red).

Lawar with an abundance of coconut, on the other hand, may appear mostly white (lawar putih).

Sampling the delights of lawar from a street vendor or a simple warung will cost around 15,000 to 20,000 rupiah per portion.

A high-end version to tickle your tastebuds is served at Bumbu Bali Restaurant in Nusa Dua

Visitors can sample their lawar udang – a version made with green papaya and served with shrimp sate – or lawar kuwir with minced duck and duck sate. Both cost about 100,000 rupiah.

If you would like to try making your own lawar at home (without the blood), here’s a recipe from Bumbu Bali Restaurant and Cooking School.

Lawar ayam

  • 600 grams (1.5 lb) long beans blanched and cut in ½ cm slices
  • 225 ml (1 cup) grated coconut, roasted
  • 56 grams (4 tbsp) fried chilli dressing


  • 250 grams (8 oz) boneless chicken minced
  • 28 grams (2 tbsp) oil
  • 177 ml ( ¾ cup) chicken spice paste
  • 118 ml (½ cup) chicken stock
  • 118 ml (½ cup) coconut cream
  • 28 grams (2 tbsp) lime juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper crushed
  • 1 bunch shallots


To make the dressing, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and then add chicken spice paste and sauté until fragrant.

Add minced chicken and continue to sauté until the meat browns.

Pour in the chicken stock and coconut cream. Bring to a boil and simmer for one minute.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice. Cool to room temperature.

Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a deep bowl and mix in the dressing.

Season to taste and garnish with fried shallots.

The roots of our food | Inspired Bali

Just under a year ago I moved from the bustling Australian city of Sydney to Mongan, a quaint village in rural Bali.

I spent the 10 years before this moving around the world, cooking my way up the ranks in a number of fine-dining establishment kitchens.

It is surprisingly hard to live a holistic and healthy lifestyle in the hospitality industry.

Try asking a sweaty, bloodshot-eyed head chef for a longer lunch break so you can meditate.

Perhaps even more risky, try sharing with your vegan yoga classmate your excitement over plucking and de-boning a wild goose.

I felt torn between two very different worlds and begged the universe to take me to a place where I could cook and breathe in peace.

Through good old synchronicity and a leap of faith, I showed up in Mongan carrying only a backpack and a dream.

I came here to manage and cook for the newly opened Bali Silent Retreat, with a vision of creating a kitchen that would source most of our food in Bali.

Farmers’ markets with local produce are now very fashionable and popular in the West. Food labelled ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’ was once enough.

The new generation of discerning consumers wants more: they want to know the people who produce their food.

As I dined my way around Bali, I was stunned to discover that most of the top restaurants here did not feature much local food.

The carbon footprint and the cost was surprisingly high and, although the taste was heavenly, it simply didn’t fit with my values.

Once settled into my new job, located on a stunning four hectare property set amidst the rice fields, I set out to get to know the local farmer’s and gardens.

Igung, our head gardener, soon became a pillar of light – my personal Google search engine for all things local and delicious.

Perhaps more than he realises, Igung has supported me in understanding some of the social, spiritual and culinary aspects of Balinese culture.

Inspired by his relationship with all things growing and blooming, I was set to have the seasons dictate our modern, healthy menu.

One of the first things I learned was that Igung’s family always mix two types of  rice together: nasi merah (red rice) and nasi putih (white rice) to accompany their meals.

As a Westerner, I can’t even begin to grasp how important growing and eating rice is to Igung.

“If I don’t eat rice today, I will be very sad and hungry, Simon”, he once told me whilst glancing at our extensive buffet of food which did not include rice.

It’s safe to assume that rice production is not only geared to meeting hunger demands but is also a practice which may well be a cornerstone of Balinese life.

Rice shapes the landscape, is sold at markets and is served at most  meals both as a savoury and a sweet food. Most Balinese eat rice three times a day.

The importance of rice in Indonesian culture is demonstrated through the reverence of Dewi Sri, the rice goddess.

She is a symbol of fertility – a mother nature. During ceremonies Balinese people wet foreheads or chests and stick grains of rice to their skin in an attempt to soak up Dewi Sri’s powerful life  force.

No wonder Igung was shocked to see Western people skipping these divine grains.

 I was delighted to find an array of vegetables within his family compound but also in the jungle surrounding his home.

In many ways this jungle is simply a vegetable garden left to it’s own wild devices. Native trees, plants and wildlife share a space with cultivated cacao, coconut and bamboo in what appears to be a bountiful and balanced forest.

Various edible leaves, fruits and roots are used as staple  vegetables and flavouring agents. Wild fern tips are popular  along with the pandan leaves that bring flavour and bright green colour to a range of dishes.

The family can collect most of the food they eat. Sometimes they eat pork as a Hindu ceremony will often call for the slaughter of a large hog.

I’d been visiting Igung’s family regularly over the past year, and their hospitality and the abundance of delicacies they serve never cease to delight me.

From the freshly caught rice field snails cooked with chili and garlic, to taro root smothered in palm syrup, to creamy  durian fruit and rambutans straight off the tree!

With so many wonderful ingredients at their fingertips, I was curious to learn which items Igung’s family choose to buy from the shop.

I was surprised  to learn it was gula pasir – standard white, refined sugar.

Unfortunately many Balinese have ditched the natural palm sugar so readily  available here in favour of the nutritionally empty, cheaper and sweeter white sugar.

Everything else is sourced within meters from their home. Although their diets are simple and include next to no salad or raw food, the way things grow so naturally gives this food a vital quality unrivalled by supermarket produce.


Illustration by Mira Gisler

I asked Igung how his diet has changed over the past 40 years. After a quick discussion with his father, Igung concluded that it is much the same now as it was then.

The only difference, he recalls, was that when there wasn’t enough rice the family would bulk it out with taro root, the main staple in Bali before rice was introduced by the Chinese.

Families like Igung’s, who grow or gather almost everything they eat, are becoming increasingly rare.

Yet change is the only constant in life and this village is no exception. Igung recently purchased his first fridge, an item that demonstrates a bridging of two very different worlds.

Science shows us that although vegetables retain their shape and flavour longer in a fridge, the absence of sunlight causes rapid nutritional loss.

When it comes to crunch and vitality, nothing beats a freshly picked vegetable. Enough reason for us to harvest daily from the retreat gardens.

My job here is to please an international crowd of discerning and self-aware individuals who are keen to eat and stretch their way to better health.

Igung is an integral part of that process. Along with the many other guardians of tradition, we are maintaining a focus on the abundance of natural and locally sourced delicacies.

We are continuously expanding our network of ‘local food heroes’ as we recognize the wisdom and sustainability which marks traditional agriculture.

At the same time, we hear our local staff asking about our hi-tech solar panels, and our gardeners get excited about foreign permaculture concepts.

Their open-minded attitude and willingness to share insight into their culture is heartwarming.

Perhaps this kind of mutual respect is the key to sustainable growth and increased unity on the multi-cultural and ever changing island of Bali.


Red rice porridge with white mango and salak (Snakeskin fruit)

  • 237 ml (1 cup) of red rice
  • 705 ml (3 cups) of water
  • 470 ml (2 cups) of coconut milk
  • 2 white mangoes, peeled (feel free to use regular mango if in season)
  • 4 salak (snake fruit), peeled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod, cut open and seeds scraped out
  • Pinch of salt

Rinse the rice in a fine sieve. Place rice, water, coconut milk, salt and spices in a thick-bottomed pot on a very low heat.

Simmer the covered rice until very tender and creamy in consistency. This can take as long as an hour depending on the rice.

Towards the end of the cooking time, stir occasionally to make sure the rice won’t burn. In the meantime, finely dice the mango and salak.

Stir the fruit into the porridge just before serving and add a last swirl of coconut milk. Sweeten to taste with palm sugar.


Raw sprout salad with a rich peanut, coriander and coconut dressing

  • 470ml (2 cups) of sprouts of choice. Mungbean sprouts are widely available in Bali
  • 1 red capsicum, diced into matchsticks
  • 1 yellow capsicum (pepper), diced into matchstick shapes
  • 3 spring onions, diced on an angle into fine rings
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • ¼ small white cabbage, finely diced
  • The leaves of 1 bunch of coriander, chopped
  • A few coriander leaves for garnish


  • 118 ml (½ cup) peanuts
  • 70 ml (5 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • Some grated lime zest
  • 5 ml (1 tablespoon) soy sauce
  • 5 ml (1 tablespoon) sesame oil
  • The stalks of 1 bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 14 ml (1 tablespoon) palm sugar
  • 118 ml (½ cup) coconut milk
  • ½ chili pepper
  • ½ chili pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Additional peanuts and coriander for garnish

Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend into a thick and zesty dressing.

Toss all the salad ingredients together in a mixing bowl. At this stage you can place in the fridge for up to a day.

Just before serving, gently mix the dressing into the salad and scoop with your hands onto a large serving platter. Garnish with some peanuts and coriander leaves and serve.


Potato and taro gnocchi in a chili, candlenut and lime sauce

Although gnocchi are traditionally made with potatoes and wheat flour, I use a mixture of potato and taro which gives it a slightly chewy dumpling-like texture.

Taro is a tropical tuber and was a staple in Bali before rice was introduced by the Chinese.

It’s available around the world and typically found in Chinese grocery stores. Feel free to experiment with seasonal starchy vegetables that are abundant in your area.

Think sweet potato or pumpkin. Same goes for the flour. You could use tapioca starch, corn flour or coconut flour.

This dish is a great gluten free option if you leave out the wheat flour. It’s an authentic fusion dish, bringing together ingredients from two different cultures.

If you want to take the cross-cultural boundaries further, try crumbling feta cheese over the top for a rich and exotic touch.


  • 940 ml (4 cups) peeled potatoes
  • 940 ml (4 cups) taro root, chopped into 5 cm (2 inch) cubes
  • 420 grams (2 ½ cups) rice flour

Making the dough

Boil or steam the potatoes and taro until tender. Place on a tray in a hot oven or in a dry frying pan for 7-10 minutes until completely dry (without browning).

Mash together or pass through a colander until smooth. Slowly stir in the rice flour to make a solid dough.

Flour quantity will vary according to the moisture level. Create neat rolls of dough about 2 cm (½ inch) thick.

Dust your bench with flour, place your roll onto it and chop into bite-size pieces. Press each piece into neat little pillow shapes using a fork.

Cooking the gnocchi

Boil the gnocchi in salted water for several minutes. They are ready when they float to the top. Gently lift them out of the water into a sieve.

TIP: If you’re not sure about your consistency, boil one piece first. If they are too soft for your liking, add more flour. Go easy on the flour as reversing the process is a lot harder.


  • ½ red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 chopped chili pepper (2 if you like or 6 if you’re insane)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 knob of ginger, chopped
  • 4 candle-nuts or macadamia nuts
  • 120 ml (8 tbsp) coconut cream
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) coconut oil
  • 1 stalk bashed lemongrass
  • Lime juice and lemon zest
  • Soy sauce
  • Palm sugar

Making the sauce

Place all the ingredients together in a blender (or pestle and mortar) and grind into a fine paste.

Cook on a gentle heat with 1 stalk of bashed lemongrass for about 15 minutes until thick and rich. Season the sauce to taste.

Add a dash of fresh lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce and a tiny amount of palm sugar.

Continue to taste until you reach a fine balance of sweet, sour and salty You’re aiming for a thick sauce that coats the gnocchi without drowning them.

To serve

Toss the gnocchi and sauce together. Mix with the remaining coconut cream and thai basil. Garnish with some gently torn thai basil leaves and serve.

by icon-1-14 Simon Jongenotter | Cover photograph by Jamie Woodall of Agung in his garden.

Coffee lover | Inspired Bali

MY MARRIAGE is almost perfect.

I must accept the reality, however, that one key ingredient is missing. It’s something I must face each morning of each day, week after week, year in and year out.

While I envy the millions of other couples around our globe doing it, making it, trying it, sharing it, I try to stay positive, see the bright side, not compare, and to let it go.

I married a non-coffee drinker.

Despite multiple offerings over the years of mind-blowing roasts, innovating brewing techniques, elaborate presentations and a variety of sweeteners and toppers, the response from my significant other has always been, “No, thanks”.

He will never be converted. He just doesn’t have the palette, the constitution or the makings of a coffee drinker.

This has left me barefoot and stranded most mornings, frothing milk, grinding beans, hovering over the stove, making my brew, doing my thing – alone.

He has diligently learned the basics of how to make a decent espresso and has even surprised me with coffee in bed a few delightful mornings a year. But it just isn’t enough.

Being a coffee drinker hasn’t always been a smooth and easy ride.

Since the Sufi’s began brewing things up in monasteries in Yemen in the 15th century, the pros and cons of the controversial beverage have been hotly disputed.

From health reports to media frenzies, coffee has had to deflect some very strong forces. There is no doubt that coffee is not for everybody.

One needs only to feel one’s body before, during and after caffeine consumption to make ones own decision.

If the internal green light flashes, then move forward with moderate consumption. If the stomach doesn’t feel right, the nerves are irritated or you dislike the taste, then please take a pass.

Talk to my husband about it. He says coffee just doesn’t settle well in his body. No need to scold or judge others for drinking coffee because it ‘compromises their health’. Surely you have other things to bother with.

After moving to Bali in 2010 with my non-drinking coffee family of five, I was a little concerned about the lack of independent cafes here.

I knew Indonesia was the world’s third producer of coffee but upon arrival my heart sank at the lack of options.

Where were the community coffee houses with harvest tables and people chatting?

Where was I to buy coffee roasted within the last three days? What about accessing organic or fair trade beans?

Where was I to converse with the zany baristas I had grown accustom to chatting with back in Toronto? Where were my people?

I am happy to report that in the last three years Bali has experienced a surge of cafés that have sprung up all over the island.

My people have surfaced. We now have independent roasters, specially trained baristas, fair trade, almost raw, and even coffee tasting competitions. My people are pleased.

I’m not here to tell you where to go for coffee in Bali. I’m here to give you tips for refining your coffee drinking skills so that you can choose the best places to fill your own cup.

Tips for scouting:

1. If the person in the café or restaurant is doing anything other than just making your coffee, you can be pretty sure they are not a trained coffee barista. Stick to the food here, and go elsewhere for you cup of java.

2. Ideally, your coffee shop can offer information on the roasting date. It is recommended to use the beans roasted within one month of the roasting date.

3. Order up at the coffee bar if you can. The best coffee is the one you drink as you watch your barista make for you.

Learn from our Italian brothers and sisters where you order your cup from a counter and take it back to your seat.

This way you can connect with the creator and refine your order while simultaneously building a friendship.

4. If your cappuccino or latte spills on the walk back to your table its too watery. It should be thick and full-bodied and the milk (or soy) should hold firmly in place.

5. If you need to add sugar, it’s generally because the beans are stale. Fresh coffee is the perfect balance of bittersweet.

6. One sign of a sophisticated coffee shop is that it serves water with their coffee. It’s the sign of detail, refinement, care, simplicity, and understanding, as coffee should always be followed by room temperature water.

7. Unless your barista has extra sensitive hands, a thermometer in the milk while frothing must be used to avoid burning.

8. Drink your coffee in glass. Save the groovy ceramic mugs for tea.

Recipes to boost your metabolism

Fireman’s Fiasco Salad Dressing

This spicy combo will light up your taste buds while it Supercharges your metabolic rate.

Spicy dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) raw honey
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lime juice
  • 4 tablespoon (60 ml) shallots, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4 fresh hot chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sun-dried tomatoes, soaked if they need softening
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) miso paste · 1/2 teaspoon (3ml) ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (12 ml) sea salt

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender in the order listed and mix until well blended.

You will probably have extra dressing for your next salad; it’s nice to have ready-made dressing and it will keep for days in the fridge.

Possible substitutions:

Replace any greens or herbs for those listed. Thai basil with parsley for added pizzazz.

Raw pumpkin for carrots. Cucumber or jicama. Soaked and drained raisins for honey.

Avocado Kale Pesto Sweet Potato Ribbons


  • 2 large or 3 smaller sweet potatoes (either orange or purple sweet potatoes provide contrast with the green pesto)


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) cold pressed olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon (30 mL) lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) pumpkin seeds, soaked
  • 3 cups (720 mL) kale, loosely packed, with stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1 cup (240 mL) fresh basil leaves


  • 1 cup (240 mL) cherry tomatoes sliced

Using a spiralizer, mandolin or common peeler, makes the sweet potatoes into ribbons.

Start your food processor running and drop in garlic, one at a time. Add olive oil and lemon juice, then avocado, nutritional yeast, and pumpkin seeds.

Add the kale and basil, processing until the greens are well blended. Season to taste with sea salt.

In a large bowl, toss sweet potato ribbons with pesto. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and extra pumpkin seeds.

Possible substitutions:

Carrots or zucchini can replace sweet potato. Spinach or chard are good substitutions for kale. Parsley can stand in for basil. You can use fresh lime juice instead of lemon. Pine nuts or walnuts can substitute for pumpkin seeds

The Living Food Lab is a healthy teaching-café with hand crafted salads, a granola station, juice and elixir bar, tasty vegan entrees and beautiful sweet treats!

We are in a quiet, secret garden in the heart of Ubud just 75m from the Monkey Forest and tucked behind Hubud. We also have a location at the Green School, Sebang Kaja.

Twitter: @livingfoodlab

Five things I have learned about food

Photo by Peter Wall

Popular psychology teaches that food behaviour tells you a lot about a person. For this failed foodie, that is certainly true.

I have read a million books and experimented a mil- lion ways but it all comes down to this: People are funny about food, but we are not all funny in the same way.

Your relationship to food is your relationship to life.

Try this trick: ask yourself what your relationship to food is, then substitute the name of whatever higher power you subscribe to (Love, Life, God, Gaia) in place of the idea of food.

This is what I got: I love food! But often, I am not discerning enough. I will eat what’s there instead of what I know fills me up.

I lack balance too; I eat too much or too little, and I eat irregularly. If only I had more time to spend making good food.

I love variety and hate leftovers. There is no greater hell to me than a mono-diet. I steer away from people who are dogmatic or controlling about food – they scare me.

When I cook, I find the best results don’t come from following someone else’s recipe, but are made up of the scraps I find in my own fridge…

all the things I have tasted and loved on my travels that are delicious only to me (and which my parents probably hate).

I used to fear other people looking at my food; their judgment, their unsolicited advice. But thank God, now I don’t give a toss.

I know what food makes me feel good, even if I don’t eat it as much as I would like to.

Food fascists are no fun, unless you are fine dining.

People who balk when you use a marinara sauce on fusilli instead of penne or choke when you try to pair a nice merlot with a mahi mahi are a bore.

They might make great food critics, but they can kill the creativity of an aspiring cook and send him sulking back to pre-prepared, packaged foods.

Don’t let the food fascists get you down. Follow your heart, get experimental and feel your food. Cook what you love.

And remember: perfectionism is the worst sort of sauce. I enjoy my signature fridge soup (lovingly reconstituted from the leftovers of previous meals) every bit as much as gourmet amuse-bouche with parsley foam any day.

And there is nothing I love better then my husband getting creative in the kitchen. The love that he puts into the preparations is far and away the best flavour.

Eating one Oreo is okay, eating the whole packet is not.

There are all manner of boundaries we can set around food. How much/how often, 80/20 rules, vegan/vegetarian, high-protein or fructose free, halal and kosher.

But in the end, there is no such thing as eating perfectly 100 percent of the time. One thing I know for sure, though, is that guilt will kill you quicker that any diet transgression will.

Whatever wagon you are on (and I trust you are on it for a very good reason) it helps to remember that you can climb back on whenever you fall off.

Those poor perfectionists would do well to save them- selves from the wild and lonely ride on the high-horse, too.

Little slips don’t need to bring any of us down. In fact, they can be kinda fun.

Don’t f#*&k with breakfast food.

In all these years of living abroad my tastes buds have changed considerably. I used to be horrified at the thought of eating anything other than ‘regular’ fare for breakfast (cereal, its sister carbs, maybe eggs).

But now I can happily eat as the locals do wherever I happen to be (fried rice, fermented fish fillets, innards soup and even yak butter tea).

I have noticed, however, that my guests from home, even the most adventuresome, are not quite as food hardy.

Let’s face it: people are vulnerable in the early morning and they need to be grounded in comfort. So if you can help it, don’t rob them of what they know.

They may be happy to see the sights and get experimental with lunch and dinner, but for early morning menus, don’t try to feed them anything other than what mommy did.

The only dieting advice that applies to everyone is simple: eat, wait, feel.

For all we think we know about food, the ‘freshest’ advice seems the simplest. Everybody is different, and a dieting industry that posits that we are all the same is bogus.

We all know people who pig out on corn chips and vodka and live to be 100, and others for whom being in the general vicinity of an un-organic, deep fried potato puts them into convulsions.

Socrates had it right for food and life when he said: know thyself.

Most of us engage with food at least three to six times a day, so why not defer to the ultimate expert and experiment on ourselves?

Figure out what food makes you thrive physically, spiritually, and emotionally and eat that.

You may just find the pop-psychologists are right: you can learn a lot about who you are through your food. ,

Out to lunch with Norma Jean:An afternoon on Goutama Street in Ubud


Cover photograph by Hero Aditya

Having first come to Bali in January, I followed some friends to Ubud, which I now like to refer to as Ooh-Food! And I haven’t looked back.

For the inaugural issue of Inspired Bali I thought it would be best to feature not only my favorite town to eat in, but the best street on which to do so.

Goutama Street is an Ubudian gem.

Hailed by Lonely Planet and the like, it’s a throwback to the Ubud that most come here to find; artistic, alternative, charming, and off the beaten path of large tour buses (yet still central enough to navigate on foot).

If you are crossing Jalan Hanoman from Monkey Forest Road it’s the last, little street you’ll see if you cut through Dewi Sita Street. This one, little block will take up an afternoon if you let it.

Here are my favorites:

ASU Art Attack: Approaching ASU Art Attack, most people don’t really know what to think.

From the outside it appears as a bunch of locals and backpackers sitting on benches, biding their time, and occasionally playing music in front of a colorful little shop.

Wrong-O! You have actually stumbled upon THE place for up-and-coming artists, designers and musicians in Ubud.

The owners, Hero, Cleise and Fajar, from Java, Brazil and Sumatra, respectively, bring their own unique spin to all they create, from paintings, to bags, t-shirts, murals and everything else under the sun.

You’re guaranteed a good time if you take a seat, check out the community notice board for upcoming art happenings, introduce yourself and jam for a few minutes!

Devilicious Warung: As Ubud becomes more and more popular, the demand for some things will never cease. These are the things that Devilicious has in spades.

The menu is vast, offering something for everyone, with great Indonesian food – their sandwich page alone covers everything from Cajun Po’Boys to Philly Cheese steaks! For this reason it’s also a great place for many budgets, with entrees from 20,000Rp- 90,000Rp.

I love going on Cajun Fridays for one of the best burgers I’ve had in Bali.

The beef is so tender and juicy, cajun spices tickle your tongue, there’s bacon, cheese, the toppings are piled high, and the bun is fluffy and soft.

Pair it with a cold Bintang and some cheesy fries and you’re in heaven! Its not 5 Star gourmet, but the food is genuinely GOOD, made with love, there’s something for everyone from carnivore through to raw vegan, and the service is super-friendly.

More than that, (and why it’s my pick) is that Devilicious is one of those local watering holes that provides connection for all who enter. Whether you’re coming in for a light lunch, big dinner, or late night beer, it’s the place you want to be!

A bit further down on G-Street is Warung Saya . This enchanting little place is run exclusivelyby Amier, so if he’s making someoneelse’s order, its probably not the best placeto go if you want to eat quickly.

The goodnews is, it’s worth the wait. The food is remarkable,budget friendly (with most entreesranging from 20,000-40,000 Rp.) and themenu consists of well done Indonesian, Indianand Thai dishes and is choc-full of vegetarianoptions.

The Soto Ayam is what I likebest here – something offered everywhere,but done impeccably and with love, as well ashaving the best Chai tea in town (served withpalm sugar and milk!)

After lunch it’s time for a bit of shopping, andthere’s a few good ones conveniently situateddirectly further down.

We all love thebuys on the main drag, but for things a bitmore unique or upmarket (in the 150,000-300,000 Rp. range), I’m inclined toward browsing the shops on some of the smallerstreets.

My current favorite on Goutama is Charity By Design . Started by Natalia, whofounded The Sacred Childhoods Foundation,everything is new and every item sold givesat least 20% of the sale price directly to charity.

Suchi, her own line of ethical clothing thatemploys under-privileged single mothers, isgorgeous, carried there and gives 50% to agreat cause!

If you’re feeling like a pick-me-up just before heading back to the main road, Bar Luna , the intellectual, literary hub of Ubud and home of the Ubud Writer’s festival in October, is a great spot.

They have one of the better coffees in Ubud, nice, healthy, cleansing juices and a fantastic 2 for 1 happy hour.

My favorite is their Banoffee Pie! For those of you unfamiliar with this delectable dessert, it’s cookie crumb crust, dulce de leche, sliced banana and fresh whipped cream, A.K.A. a delicious way to end the afternoon!

On a grain and a prayer | Inspired Bali

Photography by Glenn Chickering

RICE MAY be the most important food on earth. About half the human race or 3.5 billion people, get 20 per- cent or more of their calories from rice each day.

Rice is central to traditional Balinese culture and daily life. It’s an important part of offerings, blessings and ceremonies as well as the daily diet.

The Balinese people’s relation- ship with rice manifests every facet of the Tri Hita Karana philosophy, emphasising harmony between man and nature, his fellow man and the divine.

They express their appreciation of rice through offerings and the honouring of Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice.

A day without rice is a like a day without eating. Most Balinese people will not ask, “Have you eaten today?” but rather “Have you eaten rice today?”.

The magnificent terraced rice paddy landscapes we see today are about a thousand years old.

The subak irrigation system sources its water from the island’s volcanic lakes that weave through the landscape in a sophisticated series of canals and locks, shared collectively by farmers.

Each subak area works together to create schedules around planting, fallow periods, pest control and water allocation.

But traditional rice cultivation is increasingly under threat. The success of the island’s tourist economy has put a strain on the land, due to rising demand for water and food.

Bali welcomes twice its total population in tourist arrivals annually.

The current model of development that focuses on feeding the seemingly insatiable appetite of tourists, expats and visitors is transforming the landscape.

Approximately 1,000 hectares a year are converted from agricultural use–such as rice paddies–to commercial  use, such as hotels, villas, restaurants and tourist services.

Wet paddy rice cultivation and tourism are both highly water-dependant and in direct competition for this pre- cious resource.

Severe water shortages are predicted as early as 2015. Local food security is also threatened. Increasingly, food is imported for both tourists and locals.

Rice is the staple of the Balinese diet and integral to traditional culture. As the rice paddies lose in their competition with tourism, they are gradually disappearing.

Not all influences from outside are detrimental to Bali’s rice culture, however, and some are trying preserve it.

Ubud-based NGO Sawah Bali is using a new approach in partnership with Yayasan IDEP.

By using an American conservation approach, which places permanent restrictions on land use, the NGO hopes it will help conserve agricultural land.

Though tourists love the rice paddies, farmers receive  no direct financial benefit from tourists walking around and taking pictures of them.

In fact, farmers pay for tourism’s success in the form of higher property taxes, which are based on the income their lands could reap if used in tourism or villa development.

Farmers thus face overwhelming economic incentives to sell the land to developers.

In the ‘land trust model’, real estate appraisers evaluate cultivated land to help provide a baseline for negotiating payments to farmers.

Farmers then receive annual payments in exchange for their promise not to develop.

They maintain the right to sell or lease the land, so long as it isn’t developed for non-agricultural use.  Land use restriction then remain in place in perpetuity.


“Sawah Bali and the Balinese are working together to form a hybrid model of the land trust concept,” explains Phyllis Kaplan, founder of Sawah Bali.

“This new mod- el’s purpose is to integrate all of the Balinese values of religion, culture and law to formulate the island’s first comprehensive land conservation program.”

“Rice is predominant in the Balinese culture,” Kaplan continues. “The sawah and subak are intertwined with its heritage, religion and even law.”

Sawah Bali currently operates a pilot project in Kedewatan on the outskirts  of Ubud, an area with highly prized real estate and thus endangered rice cultivation.

The smooth texture and pure appearance of white rice is preferred by most locals because it is a symbol of wealth.

But white rice contains much lower levels of micronutrients due to chemical-intensive farming methods.

What little nutritional content the grain has, as well as most of the fibre content, is removed. A better alternative is organic heritage rice, which is brown or red.

It is both more nutritious and more expensive than its white cousin, so farmers can eat a healthier diet and earn more per unit for their harvest.

In the traditional organic cultivation method, subaks use flooding and fallow periods to control pests, so they do not need pesticides.

Instead of chemicals, farmers use organic fertiliser made from cow manure.

Slow Food Bali recently organised a tour, lunch and meeting with farmers in Jatiluwih to learn about red heritage rice cultivated  there and hear farmers’ concerns.

Some farmers mentioned their desire to open simple homes-tays that would welcome the influx of tourists to their area, which is now recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

The local institutions that will conserve this living heritage–the culture, food and landscape–are still being developed. 

It remains to be seen how many tourists will visit, what exact impact they will have, and how much farmers will benefit.

Whether supported by selling rice or beautiful green views, will the farming communities of Bali still be growing rice a millennium from now?

“If more people would choose red rice over the modern, commercial variety,” said Simon Jongenotter, chef at The Silent Retreat near Jatiluwih. “It would be an immense contribution to the health of Bali.”

What you can do:

1) Don’t build your dream villa in the rice paddies.If you do build consider renovating an existing struc- ture or building close to a town. If purchasing prop- erty choose unproductive (non-agricultural) land.

2) Resist the temptation to build a pool, which uses pre- cious water and loses a lot to evaporation. Be sure your current pool has plenty of shade trees around it.

3) Mitigate your water usage in every way you can. For example, install low-flow toilets and faucets, and meter your water usage to build awareness of how much you use.

4) Eat heritage rice. It’s local, healthy, delicious, reason- ably inexpensive and supports farmers.

5) Join Slow Food Bali and learn more about sustain- able, local food, including rice.

6) Plant seeds, grow food, eat locally.


A word to the wine in Bali

WHAT price would you pay for a bottle of wine? Well, if your name is Rudy Kurniawan it seems you would pay a very high price indeed; to be exact a $28.4 million restitution bill and a ten year spell behind bars.

Sentenced on August 7, 2014 in the U.S. courts, Indonesian-born Mr Kurniawan is the latest in a string of vinous villains who have put their considerable talents to work counterfeiting rare and expensive wines.

In Rudy’s case with remarkable success, fooling some of the world’s best-known authorities on wine and causing considerable chaos in the global wine investment market.

It’s estimated that he bilked somewhere between $20 million and $100 million from his fellow wine buffs during his ten year run.

A remarkable feat for a simple fellow from Jakarta, particularly given the notoriously exclusive world of wine collecting.

So, how did he pull off this audacious feat? As any good con man knows the only way to succeed is to infiltrate, become one of ‘them’; an insider, a member of the very club you are out to swindle.

You also have to rely heavily on the arrogance of those who consider themselves infallible, and arrogance is certainly not lacking when it comes to the world of fine wine.

Rudy was a past master at this. He made friends in all the right places, wore Hermès suits, drove a fast car and assembled one of the most admired cellars in the world.

He walked the walk, talked the talk and drank the (very expensive) wine.

He also convinced everyone of his ability to access some of the world’s rarest bottles, in particular Burgundies—including the most coveted wine of them all, Domaine Romanée Conti, earning himself the nickname Dr. Conti.

Behind the scene he set up shop in his apartment in Arcadia, California, carefully crafting the fakes from old, but much less expensive wines.

He sourced aged, empty bottles that he could reuse (a new bottle would immediately ring warning bells for any collector) and he set about making incredibly authentic-looking labels, scrupulously studying and imitating every detail to ensure that even a trained eye could not tell the difference.

So far so good for Rudy. How could it possibly go wrong?

In the end it was an all too familiar tale of greed and money breeding complacency. Fast forward to 2008.

Acker, Merrall & Condit, one of the leading auction houses in America, is gearing up for its annual auction of fine and rare Burgundies.

A full-page photo in Acker’s catalogue shows a quartet of Clos de la Roche bottles bearing the Domaine Ponsot label, including a 1929 (estimated at $14,000 to $19,000), consigned by a certain Mr. R. Kurniawan.

On the other side of the Atlantic at his estate in Burgundy Laurent Ponsot, the proprietor of Domaine Ponsot is studying the auction catalogue.

He picks up the phone, dials the number for John Kapon, head of Acker’s wine team in New York, and pointedly informs him that the first vintage of Clos de la Roche was 1934.

Sommelier Sam’s Wine Tip

What: Henry Fessy, Moulin à Vent Beaujolais, 2009 (medium-bodied, red), 13.5% ABV.

Where: Bridges Restaurant Wine Shop, Jl. Campuhan, Ubud,, 0361 970095.

Who: Henry Fessy, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France.

When: Drink now until the end of 2015, might keep a bit longer.

Why: I am always on the lookout for a red wine that is suitable for drinking here in the tropics.

This wine fits the bill perfectly. It is medium-bodied (not too flimsy or acidic and not too heavyweight) and soft and fruity thanks to the Gamay grape variety that it is made from (think red fruits like wild strawberries and cherries).

Being five years old (2009 vintage) the tannins have rounded out adding a touch of spice, and there is also a lovely hint of mint that keeps it fresh.

How: I would happily drink this on its own (I did!) but it is also an ideal partner for Chinese food, seared tuna or salmon, or a simple roast chicken.

Bigger reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, would overpower the delicate flavours in these dishes but this wine, being lighter in body, less tannic and with the red fruit character providing just a hint of sweetness, works perfectly.

The other bonus for us here in Bali is that Beaujolais is great when served slightly chilled!

Tips for the table: Javanese style.


Growing up in Central Java I was brought up with many strong customs about what food to eat, when and how. Some of it folklore, some of it religious, all of it traditional.

We were taught not to make a sound while chewing be­cause the sound resembles animals eating, especially cows.

When eating on the floor men are permitted to sit cross-legged, however women must sit with their thighs togeth­er as it’s considered rude to sit with your legs open.

In contemporary Java many people now eat with cutlery, however, traditionally we ate with our hands.

Some food is considered damaging for our spiritual growth. For example, we don’t eat catfish or pork be­cause we believe that it drains our energy. Sometimes my ‘modern’ mind questions this, but then my ‘traditional’ mind thinks that there must be a reason why my ancestors considered it forbidden.

Food is how we Javanese connect to our universe. Since I was a child, my mother always taught me that the most important thing was not what we were eating, but the time we spent together eating.

We must eat with the right hand, even if left handed. When taking food from the table one must use the right hand, serving the father first, then the mother.

Unlike the Balinese who don’t sit down together for daily meals, we do.

We were taught that it is very important to stop eating be­fore we are full. It’s a way to learn how not to be greedy

We were taught to respect rice by honouring Shri Dewi (the Goddess of rice) and we do this by never leaving any rice on our plate.

Young Javanese women are forbidden to eat chicken wings and buttocks as it’s considered bad luck.

Single woman eating from the same serving dish will be unlucky in love.

When I was growing up every monday night we did “white fasting” (mutih) where we only ate rice and drank water for 24 hours.

We believe this fasting helps to purify our mind, body and soul. I still practice this fasting because I believe it’s a good way to learn to detach from food.

These guiding principles influence me when I choose what food to put in my body.

As a woman I try to eat intuitively because my body knows which food is healthy for me and what is not.

As a mother of an active 17-year-old son I do my best to serve healthy food and be a good example when it comes to eating habits.

Living in Bali at the be­ginning was difficult for me. I found the Balinese food too spicy and with not enough variety.

However, I’ve had a Javanese maid for 17 years who is a great chef and cooks and makes whatever I ask. So wherever I go or wherever I am, I will always be in heaven.

Tips for the table: Balinese style.


Balinese food and eating etiquette is quite distinct as it is closely linked with our culture, art and religion. Here are some of our traditions.

When you visit someone’s compound typically the owner will greet you by offering food. No matter the time of day, you are expected to sit down and eat what they offer.

We don’t have any set times meal times here, which means we are free to eat when we are hungry.

Balinese are forbidden to eat beef because we be­lieve that cows are holy. If we eat them it is considered cruel: as if we are eating our own mother.

When we eat meat we offer our thanks by giving of­ferings. We do this after we cook them and before we eat. We give the offerings to the Gods that we believe in, hoping that the animals that we eat will be receiv­ing a good place somewhere…

Food is a piece of art in Bali—from the process of mak­ing, the presentation and the way of eating, especial­lythe traditional Balinese food such as lawar, sate lilit, pesan or tum. These foods are very simple yet compli­cated to make and there is an art to it.

Balinese eat with our right hand.

In many family compounds the female will rise at 5:00 a.m. and prepare food for the day.

Food that we prepare and consume in ceremonies is very different than day-to-day food.

Traditional Balinese food does not have MSG, though much street food now does, and is often still added in many homes.

The rich flavor comes from such lo­cal spices such as chili, shallot, garlic, ginger, turmeric, kencur, and bay leaf.

We don’t drink much alcohol in Bali on a daily basis. Arak and tuak are consumed sometimes after certain ceremonies. ,

Kadek Lastrini was born and raised in Bali, and is proud of it.