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Bali Food: Discovering the Island’s Traditional Culinary Treasures

Dive into the world of Bali food, where every new dish you discover offers a fusion of tradition, innovation and artistry. From Bali’s street-side culinary culture and traditional warungs (restaurants) to delving into a private food tour that takes you into the homes of locals and gives you a real feel for traditional cooking and customs — Bali is a gastronomic melting pot that culminates a range of flavours, textures and aromas across the Indonesian archipelago.

We’ll guide you through some of the best Balinese food and where to try these traditional dishes, to truly bring Bali’s culinary diversity to life.

Babi Guling

Presenting the famous cultural dish of Babi Guling. Otherwise known as ‘suckling pig’, this succulent masterpiece is prepared through a process of rubbing the skin with turmeric and other spices, and stuffed with a basa gede (Balinese spice paste), which usually includes turmeric, coriander, lemongrass, shallots, galangal, chilli, shrimp paste, and garlic. The pig is then slowly roasted over an open flame. In Bali, the Babi Guling is most frequently enjoyed as a symbol of celebration, reserved for ceremonies and special occasions.

You’ll want to visit one of Ubud’s legendary local restaurants for your Babi Guling experience. Babi Galing Ibu Oka is a family-run affair, set in an open-air space and serves the local delicacy chopped up on paper plates. These delicious pieces of pork are traditionally enjoyed in combination with white rice, spicy vegetables and blood sausage. Whilst not the prettiest of Bali’s dishes, this cultural cuisine is truly food for the soul, and you can choose to omit any of the ingredients from your plate if you wish. If you’re in the Ubud area, this prime spot opposite the Ubud Royal Palace is the perfect place to indulge in the mouthwateringly comforting Babi Guling. Other places to try the delicious sizzling roast pig is at Babi Guling Pak Dobiel and Babi Guling Karya Rebo, both located in Jimbaran.

You can even embark on a food tour, allowing you to dig into the rich flavours of Indonesia and try the best of the local dishes, including Babi Guling.


Consisting of a mixture of finely chopped meat, vegetables, grated coconut and spices, and traditionally animal blood, that gives it its intense flavour, Lawar is one of Bali’s most famous local dishes. It has been described as quite the ‘daring’ dish for visitors to try, but if you’re looking to sample all of the traditional cuisine in Bali, then Lawar should make your list. Fear not, if you’re vegetarian or vegan you can still experience the Lawar flavours through the ‘white’ version, which instead utilises jackfruit and spices — vegetarian options are very popular throughout Bali and Lawar is often enjoyed alongside many Balinese dishes, including Babi Guling.

Retreat to Pasar Sindu Night Market, the main source of fresh produce and street food among Sanur residents, with plenty of vendors offering delicious Bali food in an open-air setting. Soak up the local atmosphere and sample some Lawar and whatever else may take your fancy. The market features a fantastic variety of Indonesian food, as well as traditional Balinese desserts.

Sate Lilit

Sate Lilit is the delicious smoky barbecued meat skewer often found in the Bali street food scene. Sate Lilit consists of minced meat, often chicken, rabbit, beef, pork or fish, marinated in coconut milk and spices and wrapped around bamboo, where it is then grilled to perfection over charcoal. It differs to Sate (Satay), in that it is wrapped around bamboo sticks rather than being skewered. Sate Lilit can be enjoyed with or without the peanut dipping sauce.

A great place to sample the delicious and unique flavours of Sate Lilt is at the Gourmet Sate House in Legian, Kuta, with its fun atmosphere. This small family-run restaurant is very popular with the locals, offering a genuine Bali experience and a chance to try their mouthwatering version of Sate. The Ungasan also offers Sate Lilit in their Balinese BBQ offering.

Bebek/Ayam Betutu

Traditionally a Balinese ceremonial dish, Bebek Betutu is the duck equivalent of Babi Guling. The duck is stuffed with a symphony of traditional spices, wrapped in banana leaves and placed in the bark of a banana trunk. It is then baked or buried in a coal fire for 6 to 7 hours — sometimes up to 24 hours. The result is a tender, rich and juicy creation that truly epitomises Bali’s culinary alchemy. There is also a chicken version that is referred to as Ayam Betutu, prepared through the exact same process.

For traditional Bebek with a twist, The Ungasan offers Bebek Timbungan as part of their Indonesia Banquet offering that can be enjoyed as part of their in-villa experience. The duck is steamed in bamboo instead of the bark of a banana trunk, and served with curried long beans and assorted Balinese sambal. The delicious dish is brought to life by esteemed chefs at The Ungasan, Chef Kresna and Chef Wayan Sri.

Nasi Campur/Ayam

Bali’s comforting version of a rice bowl, Nasi Campur and Nasi Ayam, are served at many warungs throughout the island. The dish is a real culmination of Bali’s favourite local dishes and can be enjoyed in various ways. From Lawar and Sate, to fried tempeh, roasted peanuts and spicy sambal, the rice dish brings together what everyone loves and cherishes about Indonesia — a beautiful mixture of flavours, nutrients and cultures from various parts of Indonesia that reflects the nation’s cultural ethos of togetherness.

Warung Campur-Campur offers up Balinese Nasi Campur in a buffet style, allowing you to choose what ingredients make up your comforting rice bowl. Located on the main Uluwatu Street, it’s a great road-side stop off for a quick lunch with a surfer-style canteen atmosphere. It also serves up a whole host of other Indonesian fare, perfect for lunch or dinner.

Dadar Gulung

A guide to food in Bali wouldn’t be complete without featuring one of their delicious sweet desserts to complete this savoury line-up. Similar to a pancake, Dadar Gulung consists of rice flour and coconut milk and is served with grated coconut and topped with sugar. The Pandan leaf gives the pancakes their iconic bright green colour and can often be found in traditional marketplaces and warungs in Java, Bali and other regions.

Nook is a relaxed, ambient restaurant set in Seminyak, that offers 360-degree panoramic views of lush rice fields, providing an excellent spot from which to try Dadar Gulung.

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