During our recent trip to Bali, land of smiling faces, delicious coffee and scrumptious scenery, we enrolled in a cooking class near Ubud, Bali.
UPDATE: Just added a slideshow with pics from our
Bali Cooking Class Near Ubud at the end of this post!
Since I know very little about Balinese cuisine, this was a great adventure for me and we had the honor of cooking with Chef Puspa Wati directly in her traditional home — set up with a full outdoor kitchen, an impressive wood-burning stove (where she brews her own oil from coconuts), and an outdoor dining pavilion off a garden filled with fragrant plants like vanilla orchard vines, lemon grass, and salam leaves similar to our bays leaves.
Our day started out the way most great cooks start their day: in the market with the freshest produce available.
Due to Bali’s rich volcanic soil, they are able to grow a lot, even crops like vanilla which aren’t native to Bali but thrive in the tropical weather. The market was full of fragrant produce, and fruits I never tasted before — like snake fruit and rambutan, a relative of the lychee, which looks strange to the Western eye — like something growing in some Star Trek alien garden. Balinese still import some fruits like apple and citrus, but are real supporters of local agriculture.
Next, we headed to the rice fields with the chef’s husband, Wayan Subawa who explained traditional rice-growing practices and the recent switch to growing mostly organic rice.
Now 30% of their crops are organic and although they do export some of the rice, the locals save the best rice for themselves. In addition, the Balinese crops are almost exclusively hand-harvested, and this has to do with the way they plant in self-irrigating tiers — I suspect to protect jobs for residents.
After trying our own hands at harvesting rice, we headed back to the family kitchen. Ginger, galangal, lesser galangal and fresh turmeric pictured in the front of the photo are important ingredients for their yellow sauce, which is the base for so many of their dishes — you can think of it as the “marinara sauce” of Bali.
After we chopped furiously as a team, Chef Puspa demonstrated how she turned the ingredients into a paste with an enormous mortar and pestle. Next, our team of eight people got busy cooking our menu starting with clear mushroom soup, chicken sate, chicken in coconut curry, snake bean salad, steamed fish in banana leaves, and ending with deep fried tempe which tasted much like peanut brittle to me, sweet and nutty.
As we sat down to a table bursting with food, our group participants (hailing from around the globe, Chicago, Calgary, Sydney and of course Hoboken) related stories of their favorite foods and travels. We toasted to our hosts who shared so much of their passion for excellent homemade food, opening their beautiful home to us in the true spirit of Balinese hospitality.
Slideshow With Pics From Cooking Class
Resources for Cooking Classes in Bali
Visit Puspa’s site to learn more about her delicious food and how to book informative paon bali cooking classes.