Spice island - Tourism Indonesia




Friday, February 8, 2008

Spice island

It's easy to be seduced by Bali. In most corners of this intensely coloured island, lush with hot pink and purple blossoms and cool-green terraced rice fields, there's a spread of elegant Western-style restaurants: French, Italian, Indian, modern Thai, even Spanish. And there is no shortage of upscale Indonesian-esque eating: prettily presented versions of favourites such as nasi goreng (fried rice), fried chicken and nasi campur (a mix of small dishes set around a mound of rice).

But there's more to Bali than borrowed dishes. Just as language and religion differ between the tiny, fan-shaped, Hindu island and its Muslim-dominated big brother, Java, Balinese food has its own personality. "Balinese flavours are like music, a stream running over stones," says Penny Williams, an Australian chef working at one of the island's luxury resorts. "Javanese tastes are like a pounding river."

Also in Ubud, expatriate Australian Janet De Neefe takes visitors into the heart of Balinese food culture through her Casa Luna cooking school. Standing at a table spread with leaves, roots and spices, she explains the bumbu - the spice pastes that form the basis of Balinese cooking. We pound and sniff nubbly sticks of tabiabun (a Balinese long pepper), delicate, almost lemony torch-ginger petals and the medicinally astringent kencur - a gnarly tuber that resembles galangal. We are warned against snacking on too many macadamia-like candlenuts. They are a common Balinese laxative.

It's here I learn about bebek betutu, a smoky duck specialty smeared in shrimp paste, tamarind and palm sugar. A whole bird is stuffed with herbs including staghorn, cumin leaves and daun salam (a subtly flavoured Indonesian leaf), then steamed. It's rolled into a palm-leaf sheath and buried under a cone of slow-burning rice husks. Using a similar technique to a Maori hangi, or ground oven, it will smoke and bake for up to 11 hours.

Full article

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! I would love to know more about Balinese cuisine. I really loved the Bebek Betutu dish. I would love to know how this dish is cooked. It was an enjoyable read.


your comments are now being moderated