On our last day in Bali we were given the option to choose between 3 activities: learning to surf at Kuta Beach, partaking in some fun water activities such as parasailing and banana boating or heading to the interior of the island to a traditional Balinese home for a Balinese Cooking Class.
Initially I had a tough time choosing between the parasailing (because I really want to try it) and the cooking class… fortunately I made the very best choice and opted for the Cooking Class in Bali. It turned out to be the most amazing day!!
The bus journey to our destination took just over an hour and on the way to the Balinese Cooking Class we stopped off at a local food market to see where the locals buy their spices and fresh ingredients every day. Can you believe it but the market actually starts at 2am every morning so it was closing time when we arrived at just after 10am. We were still able to catch a few open stalls and chat to some of the locals.
One of the most fascinating aspects of life in Bali is that the culture here is predominantly Hindu whereas the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim. The Hindu culture dictates that each person make offerings twice a day – morning and evening – and these are one of my most lasting memories of my time on the island.
Everywhere you walk there are beautifully presented offerings left for the gods, and the devil! What intrigued me was the time commitment it must take take to make 4 offerings every single day!!! And my question was answered when we discovered a stall at the market that actually sold the offerings… then it all made sense!
The only negative is that on my return home I actually discovered from a fellow blogger that these offerings are actually becoming quite a problem in Balinese culture as many people are struggling to afford to keep up this religious tradition and finding themselves in financial difficulty because of it…
Fun Fact: Canang Sari are the colourful flower offerings seen on every street, temple, surface in Bali. They’re a symbol of thankfulness offered to the Hindu God, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa twice daily.
Anyway back to our cooking class… our destination was Rumah Desa located in the town of Tabanan (30 mins from Ubud). The name means means house in the village and this little house is located in an authentic, tranquil Balinese village. The home itself was extensive, a collection of buildings and open air rooms that seemed to extend forever.
Connecting the buildings were the most incredible tropical gardens I have ever seen. Flowers, fountains and ferns, moss covered statues, fruit trees and unusual plants. The variety of plants and beautiful bright colours was amazing. I loved exploring the gardens and couldn’t help take photos of all the exotic looking flowers – the likes of which I didn’t know existed!
Rumah Desa – a traditional Balinese home
After being welcomed with a traditional Balinese beauty treatment and having our names carved in Balinese script it was time to try our hand at a few of the local dishes.
Cooking Class in Bali
We got stuck in to preparing some of the ingredients but left the heavy duty cooking to the professionals.
On the menu were the following interesting Balinese dishes
- Balinese Cooking Paste – Onion, garlic, turmeric, chilli, ginger and chopped macadamia nuts mixed together
- Sela Sawi – Mashed Cassava root formed into a ball and fried with banana inside. Once cooked top with old shredded coconut and eat as a desert.
- Satay – Tuna fish and shallots mixed with brown sugar, lime, pepper, salt, and Balinese cooking paste. Pressed onto a skewer and then deep fried.
- Sambal Bejek Salad – Ginger flower, lemon grass and shallot mixed with salt, coconut oil and chili – add shredded chicken to mix it up and serve as a side to the Satay. This was delicious and I’ll definitely be making it at home for a braai in the future (if I can find the ingredients mind you!)
- Mixed Vegetables, Balinese style – Cabbage, Long bean, Carrot, Spinach, Fried shallots, Chillies, Bean sprouts and Cooking Paste mixed with grated coconut
While the chefs finished off our dishes we were invited to walk out to the rice paddies to learn how rice is grown and harvested and to even try our hand at ploughing the paddies with a couple of cows!!
This was such an unexpected treat as we had no idea that the rice paddies would be a few metres from the house and most of us assumed you would have to travel to Ubud to see the rice paddies! We donned our rice paddy hats and headed off down a winding path and across a few rickety bridges.
Along the way we saw the most incredible diversity of tropical fruits literally growing on the sides of the road… cacoa, coffee beans, pineapples, paw paws (papaya), banana trees, coconut palms. It was incredible to see and made me realise that once again us city dwellers definitely are doing something wrong. This is simple living at it’s finest! Let’s all move to Bali!!
After carefully balancing our way on the tops of the “walls” that surround each rice paddy we came to a very muddy paddy that was busy being ploughed by a farmer and his wife. We thought we were just there for the photo op… until they invited us in. Nervously we each changed into a pair of borrowed brown shorts and attempted to make it round the paddy on the plough without falling in! It was something I never imagined I would do in my lifetime but that’s what made it the most memorable moment of the day!
A visit to a Rice Plantation in Bali
Planting Rice in a Rice Plantation in Bali
After all our hard work it was time to clean up and head back to enjoy our traditional Balinese lunch – a veritable feast of fantastic food that was delicious – and the most authentic food we had experienced on the trip.
Traditional Balinese Food
This day was certainly a highlight of my trip to Indonesia. I loved hanging out with a smaller group of people who were all there for the experience and keen to make the most of the day. We kept telling each other how pleased we were to have made this choice and what a win the whole day was!!
None of us wanted to leave our lovely Balinese lunch spot but eventually we had to drag ourselves away and head back to our hotel for our leaving dinner… grateful for the memories of a day spent enjoying the Balinese way of life!
And don’t miss out on Ubud. I didn’t make it there on this trip but this post on Things to do in Ubud has got me planning my next trip to beautiful Bali!
Click this link to book a similar Balinese Cooking Class experience.
Read more about my #TripofWonders experience in Indonesia here:
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Images: Kathryn Rossiter
My trip to Indonesia was on the invitation of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism as part of the Trip of Wonders. For more information on travelling to Indonesia please visit www.indonesia.travel and follow @indtravel on Twitter or Instagram and search the hashtags #WonderfulIndonesia #TripofWonders for more incredible photos from our journey
I write reviews and feature beautiful places on my blog in order to inspire others to find new, exciting and different places to visit. As always all thoughts, opinions and images are my own (unless otherwise credited!)