The delicious aroma of Balinese herbs and spices waft in the air as I relax with a Bintang (Bali beer) at the outdoor banquet table ready for a culinary feast of epic proportions! The last few hours my nine new friends are at the best cooking class in Bali. We’ve been chopping, mixing, grinding, blending, pounding, cooking and putting together a Balinese feast.
I am at the Paon Bali Cooking Class in the tiny village of Laplapan, near Ubud, in Bali and I am about to enjoy the fruits of my labour.
My culinary adventure begins in the late afternoon when we are picked up by the delightful Wayan and driven to his village. Along the way we learn more wondrous facts about Bali and stop to soak in the views of endless rice paddies. Wayan is intelligent, interesting and a real joy to spend time with. Arriving at Laplapan we meet our teacher extraordinaire and Wayan’s wife – Puspa.
Puspa shows us basket after basket of colourful Balinese spices, exotic fruits and , fish and meat in the wonderful outdoor kitchen.
Traditional, fresh ingredients like garlic, chili, galangal, turmeric, ginger, shrimp paste, salam leaves, palm sugar, lemongrass, candlenut and shallots form the base of many of the dishes.
We chop and dice and grind these aromatic spices in the Bali Blender (mortar and pestle) ready for our crash course in Balinese cooking.
Talk about an action-packed afternoon – we’re going to make 8 courses!
We’ll start with Clear Mushroom and Vegetable Soup, Chicken in Coconut Curry, Satay Chicken, and Vegetables in Peanut Sauce (Gado Gado). Then we’ll move on to Coconut and Snake Bean Salad, Steamed Tuna in Banana Leaves,Tempe in Sweet Soy Sauce, and to top it all off – dessert of Boiled Banana and Jackfruit in Palm sugar syrup. Are you hungry yet?
The aromas are sending our taste buds into overdrive and I am very tempted to lick the spoons!
We wrapped fish in banana leaves and we learnt how to make tofu curry, how to fry tempe to a gorgeous golden brown, how to create authentic coconut oil for cooking, how to make basic yellow sauce and more. We chopped, stirred, cooked and buzzed around the kitchen like budding chefs.
It was only a few days ago I learned the tempe was fermented tofu! We tasted and sampled our way through the recipes, all under the watchful eye of the wonderful and fun loving Puspa.
Lime was used in a number of dishes and Puspa would tell us to “Saqeeze your lime” and it sounded so funny. I loved her accent, it sounded so cute.
The food was amazing, even if I do say so myself. The tempe was like none other that I had tasted before.
We ate, and ate some more, then we ate some more again!
I know I’ll treasure Puspa’s recipes (yes, you even get the recipes to take home) and cook with these memories forever.
I even tucked some special authentic Balinese sweet soy sauce in my suitcase to take home.
Don’t miss this culinary adventure if you go to Bali – you will have a load of laughs, learn heaps, have a gigantic meal and not want to go home.
The whole experience priced at $35 AUD was fantastic value and worth every cent.
As I have said this is NOT a tourist attraction – this is a priceless experience of a lifetime.
Such warmth and hospitality exists in Bali because the Balinese are so passionate about their culture.
Do I sound like I am in love with Bali and it’s people?
Yes it’s true, I am!