Soul Food: A Foodie’s Experience in Bali

I was lucky enough to join the Follow the Sun Bali Yoga Holiday with Sharni this past month and, being me, managed to find a way to get to all the good health cafes as well as stop at most of the local Warungs (shops/restaurants), took photos of every meal, every smoothie and every cocktail. Thanks to my little food obsession, Sharni dubbed me the ‘Foodie Angel’! To say that I love food is a bit of an understatement. Food is honestly the thing that brings me the most joy (please don’t tell my loved ones that!). Foodie Angel pretty much hits the nail on the head. To me, ‘soul food’ is the kind of food that nourishes on all levels; food that provides nutrition for the body, satisfaction for the mind and happiness for the soul. And this Foodie Angel has to say – there is no better place to immerse yourself in the food than the precious island which has more soul than I have ever come across; Bali. Balinese cuisine most definitely ignited my soul, excited my mind and  nourished my body. And what’s a good meal without sharing it with someone.. which is exactly why I’ll be sharing some of my experiences of Balinese soul food with you.
Balinese BreakfastI have to start with introducing you to the Balinese breakfast you can expect when you travel to the land of palm trees and coconuts. No matter where we stayed, we were always greeted with an included breakfast – banana pancakes or an omelette and fruit presented so beautifully it belonged in an art display not in your tummy!
The second highlight was experiencing the Paon Balinese Cooking Class. During our trip, we went straight to the source of the Soulful Food Nation Balinese Cooking Classand not only got to make a variety of popular local dishes ourselves, but were sent home with recipes, cooking tips and memories of cooking with jungle views and phrases like “Honeys, start your engines!” when asked to turn on our gas stoves.
Moving on to my two top discoveries during our stay in Ubud (which means ‘medicine’ in Sanskrit as it was once the heart of medicating the body and soul).
Garden Kafe. My first obsession was this little gem of a cafe tucked away in the heart of Yoga Barn. With so much goodness to choose from, I had to go back most days during our Ubud visit to make my way through that epic menu – which has a little something for everyone – filled with Macrobiotic choices and Ayurvedic meals all the way through to to Raw Vegan meals.
Here are a few of my favourites;Garden Kafe SlushiThe cooling Ayurvedic Date and Almond Shake made with fresh ginger, almond mylk, vanilla bean and coconut. Accompanied by the Thai Green Curry Bowl with tofu and mixed veggies in a coconutty sauce.
Living Granola Breakfast consisting of soaked seeds, pineapples, dates and  cashew mylk along with a Lime Mint Slush and Liver Detox Shot. My sweet tooth also guided me to many a treat like the raw Chocolate, Cashew & Raisin Bite – honestly food that set my soul on fire. Garden Kafe, we will meet again!
Clear Cafe Mudslide RAw Pie

Clear Cafe was my second cafe obsession and what an experience; on top of a menu filled with an abundance of wholesome delights in a gorgeous setting, you even get to descend from the top floor via a pole! Like a fireman! Such fun. I awoke my soul with a Chai Iced Dream – homemade chai, cashew milk and nutmeg, a Prawn Dragon Bowl – grilled vegetables, steamed spinach, sliced avocado, bean sprouts, organic red rice and a mango chutney, and my cherry on top for the day was their Mudslide Raw Pie – cashew chocolate cream, vanilla bean & cacao layered on top of a chocolate coconut crust. YUM!
Saving the best for last; my most happy making discovery in Bali was their traditional dish by the name of Nasi Goreng or Fried Rice. I must have had one every single day for four weeks – Nasi Goreng with peanut sauce on the side. Yes Bali has many health cafes and western restaurants with smoothie bowls and green juices, but this local meal tops my soul food list. No matter which Warung you order a Nasi Goreng from, the meal looks exactly the same – two slices of cucumber, a slice of tomato, dome shaped fried rice with a fried egg on top and prawn crackers on the side. I ordered it in Northern Bali, on the Gili Islands, in Ubud, Uluwatu, even on Nusa Lembongan and  Nusa Penida and each and everyone looked identical! One meal prepared the same way by an entire population – now that must be filled with a whole lot of soul. I’ve included a recipe that I’ve tried and tested on my family. Enjoy, and here’s to it feeding your happy soul.
 Nasi Goreng
Nasi Goreng Recipe
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp red chilli, finely sliced or chopped OR Sambal Oelak paste
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2½ cups cooked long grain rice, allow it to cool first by spreading it out on a large baking pan
  • 3 tbsp kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce) / any sweet soy sauce you can find
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • you can add a protein of your choice if you’d like
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • a few slices of cucumber
(If you can find prawn crackers and peanut paste in your local Asian shop, grab them! They do make the meal extra special)
Method
  • Soak the rice in water for about two hours, rinse and drain
  • Bring the rice to boil in 5 cups water, simmer until cooked through (roughly 20 – 25 minutes)
  • Spread and cool rice on a baking pan
  • (optional – prepare your protein by cooking it in some sweet soy sauce and oil)
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan, adding the garlic and chilli, cook until the yummy aromas meet your nose
  • Add the onions and carrots, cooking until the onions are translucent (about five minutes)
  • Add the cooled rice and sweet soy sauce, flipping it regularly with a spatula and cook until the rice heats through
  • Divide the rice amongst four separate bowls
  • Cook the eggs sunny side up, separate and place an egg in each bowl
  • Add a slice of tomato and two slices of cucumber to each bowl
  • Enjoy!
Happiest wishes,
Christi

Written by Christi Wasserman

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