What was my most memorable experience in Bali? Definitely the cooking class I took in a Balinese village. This class was more than just mastering new recipes — it was also about learning the local culture, customs, and rituals.
The class started with me making an offering to the Gods. Many offerings are made of soft leaves and bamboo skewers and are filled with colourful flowers (a representation of certain Gods) and rice. Throughout Bali, offerings are in front of every doorstep, on street sidewalks, and on every statue. Offerings can be given more than 5 times a day, so the streets of Bali are always colourful. It is believed that these offerings are giving back to not only the Gods, but to the entire community.
The cooking class took place in a stunning village that wasn’t touristy at all. In fact, I felt privileged to be let inside such a peaceful area (even if there were a few chickens running around from time to time).
I also got the chance to visit a local spice market. This experience was like no other. Fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs, and palms (to make the offerings) were being sold on the side of the road. The road stretched for so long, that when looking in the distance, the bright colours from the fruits and vegetables made the street look like a cartoon show. You could just smell the freshness of the ingredients in the air.
During my cooking class, I made enough food for a family of five with three teenage boys. I learned how to make corn soup (sup jagung), chicken in a banana leaf (Tum be siap), Balinese chicken curry (siap base kalas), fried noodles (mie goreng), marinated grilled fish (be pasih mepanggang), shrimp satay (sate udang), BBQ sauce, and Balinese Bumbu (Base Gede). I was even taught how to make fresh coconut milk. How cool is that?
My cooking instructor, Wayan Sunastri, was inviting, encouraged questions, and even helped to take over when I couldn’t grind ingredients into a fine paste! He answered all of my questions, and although he put me to work, I really enjoyed his company. Thanks for your patience, Chef!
Balinese Bumbu is a paste that can be used as a flavour base of many dishes. The bumbu contains shallots, garlic, chili, fresh turmeric, ginger, galangal, coriander seeds, candle nuts, black peppercorns, white peppercorns, cloves, and coconut oil. Balinese Bumbu is what I used to marinate the fresh Red Snapper before it was placed on the grill.
I was the only person that signed up for the cooking class on that specific day. Other cooking schools would have turned me away because obviously having larger groups is in their best interest. I appreciated that the Bali Cooking School allowed to come as an individual and have such a wonderful experience.
I highly recommend this cooking school if you plan on taking a cooking class in Bali. I’m confident you will not only learn how to cook amazing Balinese food, but you will also learn about the local culture and enjoy visiting this peaceful village that is tucked away from tourists.