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Balinese Food: 28 Popular Dishes + 7 Secret Recipe Tips

Are you planning a trip to Bali or simply want to experience the authentic taste of Balinese cuisine? In this Balinese food guide, we teach you some of the most popular dishes on the island. Plus, we even give you secret tips that only locals would know.

Bali is a province within Indonesia. However, Balinese cooking incorporates foods different from the usual Indonesian cuisine.

Balinese cuisine recipes are full of bright colors and aromatic spices that’ll tickle your taste buds. Unfortunately, tourists often can’t get access to authentic Balinese food without an invitation to a local’s home.

Traditional Balinese Cuisine – What It’s Like

Traditional Balinese Cuisine – What It’s Like

Indonesia has many regions, each using different spices. Because of this, the tastes vary greatly, and it’s hard to find region-specific dishes. Bali, one of the provinces of the country, has a distinct flavor from mainstream Indonesian food.

So what does Bali cuisine taste like? In general, Balinese cuisine is extremely spicy and salty. Balinese dishes contain plenty of traditional spices and herbs. These include chili peppers, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and salam leaf.

Bali food also reflects the relaxed lifestyle of its people. Dishes often involve hours of prep work, making it impractical in restaurant settings. As a result, it’s hard to find authentic and traditional Bali dishes even from the restaurants on the island.

Famous National Dishes in Bali

Famous National Dishes in Bali

As a province, Bali has no national dish. However, here are the top two foods locals consider the most famous on the island.

Nasi Goreng Bali or Balinese Nasi

Nasi Goreng Bali or Balinese Nasi

Nasi Goreng, a popular food in Bali, is the national dish of Indonesia. The Balinese version of this fried rice includes turmeric, lemongrass, galangal, and shallots. You may add sweet soy sauce to the rice and cook the Balinese nasi over a wok.

Babi Guling

Babi Guling

What sets Bali food apart from other Indonesian dishes is the Hindu population. The locals love pork dishes, a meat that’s banned in the rest of the country. We mention this because residents say babi guling, or suckling pig, is the best food in Bali.

To make babi guling, you stuff suckling pig with aromatic spice blends and cook it over a pit of embers. You can serve it with Balinese side dishes like white rice, sambal, and vegetables. It’s a fan favorite due to its crispiness and aroma.

Most Popular Street Food in Bali

Most Popular Street Food in Bali

These are some of the most popular street foods in Bali. From Nasi Campur Bali to Bubur Mengguh  – learn everything you need to know about opular street food in Bali.

Nasi Campur Bali

Nasi Campur Bali

Nasi campur, or mixed rice, is a popular dish you can find all over the streets of Indonesia. In Bali, you may find food stalls making it using local ingredients.

Nasi Bali is plain rice served with hard-boiled eggs, green vegetables, tofu, or babi guling. It’ll have spicy sauce vendors made from Balinese aromatic spices.

Nasi Jinggo

Nasi Jinggo

Nasi jinggo is a combination of steamed rice, noodles, eggs, and spicy sambal. It sounds simple, but the spice blend means this common dish packs a strong punch. Vendors wrap this Balinese food in a banana leaf, and you can have it on the go.

Bubur Mengguh

Bubur Mengguh

Bubur mengguh is a celebratory dish in Bali because it’s one of the compulsory foods at festivals. It’s a savory porridge street vendors top with chicken meat, peanuts, and chili peppers. Coconut milk and spices also get mixed into bubur mengguh, so it’s flavorful even without the toppings.

Balinese Food in the World

Balinese Food in the World

Despite being one of the top travel destinations in the world, Bali food is not popular globally. This may be because it’s difficult to recreate an authentic dish outside the province.

You can only find specific spices on the island, and the cooking methods locals use are painstaking. Restaurants will use shortcuts to streamline processes at the expense of authenticity.

On top of this, it’s hard to find traditional Balinese recipes on the internet. Many recipes aren’t in English as well. Because of this, you may have to travel to Bali to taste the delicious cuisine.

How Healthy Balinese Food Is

How Healthy Balinese Food Is

Balinese food is generally healthy because of the nutritional balance. Meat dishes will always have a mix of vegetables on the side. What’s more, the spiciness level of the food may be a contributing factor to its healthiness.

In Balinese cuisine, locals heavily use turmeric, ginger, chili, and other fresh ingredients. Turmeric has curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and brain-boosting properties.

Ginger helps manage weight and arthritis, and chili is rich in antioxidants. Because of the spices, the overall health benefits of Balinese food increase.

Famous and Popular Balinese Dishes You Have to Try

Famous and Popular Balinese Dishes You Have to Try

Trying these famous Balinese dishes should be on your agenda when you visit the island. The following dishes are very popular in Bali.

Sate Lilit

Sate Lilit

Sate lilit is by far one of the most unique and popular dishes in Bali. Locals make Balinese sate by pounding chicken meat into a fine paste.

They add palm sugar and additional spice, such as kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. After this, the paste gets wrapped around lemongrass sticks and grilled over charcoal.

When you bite into this chicken dish, your taste buds will experience what we can only describe as a flavor bomb. The meat is juicy and fragrant. Plus, the smokiness of the lemongrass comes through. Sate lilit is a comfort food you must try when you visit Bali.

Tempe Balado

Tempe Balado

This sweet and sour tempe is another famous dish you can find in the warungs of Bali. To make it, locals chop and fry tempe until they’re crisp.

After this, the tempeh gets coated in a special sauce made with salam leaf, lemongrass, palm sugar, and kaffir lime juice. This delicious dish is best served over a warm bed of rice.

Tum Bali

Tum Ayam

Tum is a delicacy you have to try when you’re in Bali. It’s a dish locals make from ground chicken, pork, and even jackfruit. The meat gets combined with Bali spices and tightly wrapped in banana leaves. This is then steamed in baskets until cooked tender.

Tum Bali has a complex flavor and a texture similar to skinless sausage. You can have it as is or serve it with rice. Do note that since people can make tum Bali out of any kind of meat, no two are the same. You may want to sample several versions of this dish.

Soups & Salads

Soups & Salads

As a tropical island, Bali is rich in fresh vegetables you can mix in salads and soups. Here are a few dishes you must try.

Ares Soup

Ares Soup

Ares soup or jukut ares is a traditional soup that royals drink in Bali. To make it, you’ll need to chop a young banana tree bark and massage it with salt. The salt draws moisture, and you squeeze the water out.

Once the banana tree bark is ready, boil it in chicken stock, ginger, turmeric, and galangal. Locals may sometimes serve this soup in coconut husks, giving it a rustic look.

Ares soup is spicy, savory, and aromatic. The banana stalks are surprisingly crunchy, and the texture is like celery.

Urab Sayur

Urab Sayur

Urab sayur is a Bali vegetable salad consisting of green beans, coconut meat, and bean sprouts. It’s simple and one of the easiest Balinese dishes you can make. For this dish, the preparation of each basic ingredient is key.

First, you have to finely chop everything and blanch the vegetables separately. You then mix coconut oil, lime, salt, chilies, and aromatics into the veggies.

Locals often do this step by hand in a large wooden bowl. The bright colors, combined with the sour and spicy flavors make this salad stand out.

Soto Ayam

Soto Ayam

Soto ayam is a hearty Balinese soup made with chicken, turmeric, and coconut milk. This soup has a bright yellow color from the turmeric, which makes the green color of the fresh vegetables pop. It’s visually stunning, and the flavor is unbelievably creamy and earthy.

You can top soto ayam with a spicy Balinese sauce to give it an extra kick. Aside from this, you may add rice noodles to make it more filling. It doesn’t take long to make, and the turmeric gives this soup plenty of health benefits.

Garang Asem Bali

Garang Asem Bali

Garang asem is a dish that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. That’s because it uses a unique ingredient called wuluh star fruit that predominantly grows in Southeast Asian countries. Wuluh star fruit gives this soup an incredibly sour taste.

You cook garang asem with coconut milk, chicken broth, and other Bali spices. It’s spicy, savory, and sour. Some tourists might not like it, but the soup is unique enough that you have to give it a try.

Starters, Sandwiches, Sides

Starters, Sandwiches, Sides

Are you looking for Balinese side dishes? Here are our top Bali starters and sides. If you’re visiting Bali, you should definitly try one of these.

Sambal Matah

Sambal Matah

Sambal matah is the universal side dish to every Balinese food. It’s a chili sauce that includes shallots, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Garlic, peppers, and shrimp paste often get mixed as well.

The sambal from Bali is unique from other parts of Indonesia because it’s raw. You only have to chop each ingredient finely and combine them. Locals eat sambal matah as a topping to pan-seared tuna, among other dishes.

Lawar

Lawar

Lawar is a mixed salad commonly served as a side dish in Bali. To make it, locals chop unripe jackfruit, green beans, and coconut meat into fine pieces.

The vegetables get blended with shallots, shrimp paste, and Balinese curry spices. Some versions of lawar also include ground meat or fresh pork blood for color.

In Bali, no celebration is complete without lawar. You can serve this salad with babi guling and a bed of rice at a party. However, you should eat it immediately as all the ingredients are highly perishable.

Perkedel Jagung

Perkedel Jagung

Perkedel jagung, or Indonesian corn fritters, is a delicacy influenced by Dutch colonialism in the 18th century. The name perkedel came from the Dutch frikandel patties. Yet, Bali cuisine puts a twist on these fritters using the local spices.

To make it, combine sweet corn, shallots, chili, and Bali curry paste. Rice flour holds the ingredients together and gives it crispiness when fried. Perkedel is one of the Balinese side dishes that may feel familiar to people from other cultures.

Rujak

Rujak

Rujak is a traditional spicy salad made from tropical fruits. All you have to do is chop up some green mango, guava, wax apple, jicama, and pineapple into bite-sized pieces. You may make strips for dipping, or cubes for tossing in dressing.

To prepare the dressing, combine tamarind paste, palm sugar, chopped red chili, and water in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together, and you’re done. Rujak is a quick dish that has all the flavors and colors of Bali.

Mains

Mains

There’s a plethora of Balinese main dishes, but these are the three dishes you should get your hands on. From sambal lindung to ayam pelalah – these mains are very popular in Bali.

Sambal Lindung

Sambal Lindung

Sambal lindung may be one of the most bizarre and exotic dishes you can find in Bali, especially if you see how it’s prepared. It’s a dish made from tiny freshwater eels that are hand-gutted and deep-fried.

The eels turn crispy once they hit the oil and you may mistake them for noodles.

After the frying, locals coat the eels in a spicy sambal to give them the familiar Balinese taste. You may also mix toasted coconut and peanuts in. These will give your dish an added crunch.

In Bali, freshwater eels are abundant in the rice fields. They’re an indicator that your water and land are healthy. However, finding sambal lindung may be difficult because cleaning eels takes time. If you find sambal lindung at a restaurant, consider yourself lucky and order it immediately.

Bebek Betutu

Bebek Betutu

Bebek betutu is a Balinese roasted duck or chicken dish. The bird is carefully coated with a chili paste and stuffed with Balinese aromatics. This is then wrapped in coconut husks and steamed or grilled. As you can imagine, an elaborate dish like this is often the star of the show at gatherings.

Bebek betutu is tender because the moisture gets trapped within the coconut husk. It’s also incredibly flavorful and unique.

Fortunately, you can make it at home by wrapping duck in foil instead of coconut husks. Of course, if you can find the real deal in Bali, then by all means, do try it.

Ayam Pelalah

Ayam Pelalah

Ayam pelalah is a chicken dish that’s a staple among Balinese homes. To make it, all you have to do is grill and shred chicken meat. You’ll combine this meat with Balinese herbs, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, and oil. Locals love stir-frying it in a wok for extra smokiness.

You can serve ayam pelalah with lime wedges, cucumber, rice, and tomato. It’s a complete and balanced dish for everyday eating. On top of this, you may also see ayam pelalah getting prepared during Balinese festivals.

Pepes Ikan

Pepes Ikan

When you’re on an island, having fresh seafood is a must. Pepes ikan is a dish you can make from tuna, mackerel, or snapper. The fish gets cleaned and seasoned with Balinese spices. Afterward, it’s wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in a basket.

The dish is fragrant, and the scent of the banana leaves comes through. We love that it’s easy to make and you can cook it within minutes. You should eat it with rice, lime, or Balinese chili sauce.

Breads, Pastries, Dessert

Breads, Pastries, Dessert

Bali has a wide range of traditional rice cakes and desserts to enjoy. Here are a few must-try sweets for those visiting the island.

Bubur Injin

Bubur Injin

Bubur injin is a black glutinous rice porridge with coconut cream and palm sugar. Locals mix pandan leaves into the sticky rice to give it a floral scent. Meanwhile, the coconut is lightly salted to contrast the sweetness of the palm sugar.

This Balinese dessert is warm, hearty, and creamy. We love that the flavor is subtle but the black rice has a substantial bite. You can eat it for breakfast or at the end of a meal.

Laklak

Laklak

Laklak is a bite-sized traditional Balinese rice cake. The base ingredient is glutinous rice flour, which means this dessert is sticky and deliciously chewy.

Laklak is often flat and round, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. It comes in plain white, and the green version contains suji and pandan leaves.

Locals serve this Balinese rice cake with grated coconut and sugar syrup. At times, they use banana leaves to wrap it. Laklak has a delicate grassy-vanilla flavor with hints of coconut. If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be able to eat just one.

Bubur Sumsum

Bubur Sumsum

Bubur sumsum is an interesting coconut pudding we’re sure you’ve never had. To make it, you boil coconut milk with rice flour, salt, and palm sugar. This creates a pudding-like consistency.

The second component of this dish is palm sugar syrup. All you have to do is caramelize the palm sugar and add water as needed.

You’ll then serve the coconut pudding in a cup with the palm sugar. Occasionally, you’ll find bubur sumsum with sweet potato dumplings called biji salak.

Batun Bedil

Batun Bedil

Batun bedil is another sticky rice cake that you have to taste when you’re in Bali. It’s made from chewy rice dumplings boiled in water. The dumplings themselves are flavorless, but the sauce is delicious.

To make the sauce, boil palm sugar and pandan leaves in water or coconut milk. You may add salt for a slight contrast as well. Serve these dumplings in the sauce and enjoy it warm or cold.

Balinese Beverages

Balinese Beverages

Which Balinese beverages should you try? Here are a few of our top Balinese drinks.

Kopi Luwak

Kopi Luwak

Bali has the perfect climate for growing coffee beans, which is why the coffee there is so amazing. You have to try kopi luwak, or civet coffee. Civets only eat the best coffee cherries. As a result, their droppings contain high-quality seeds that get processed into expensive coffee.

Kopi luwak has strong earthy and woody flavors. You may have it brewed or poured over. Locals also occasionally mix it with a shot of fermented coconut sap called arak.

Brem

Brem

Brem is a traditional Balinese rice wine that’s used for Hindu ceremonies. You can get it in small glass bottles in supermarkets on the island. This alcoholic beverage is sweet and slightly tart.

The color is naturally reddish thanks to the black rice it’s made from, making it a unique souvenir to give to friends.

Es Daluman

Es Daluman

Es daluman is a cold green-grass jelly drink perfect for combatting the hot Bali climate. This traditional drink has two parts. First, the jelly gets extracted from a vining plant called cincau. Its texture is slightly less firm than gelatin, and it’s high in fiber.

Next, the jelly gets submerged in a mixture of coconut milk and palm sugar. The green jelly stands out against the white coconut milk, giving this refreshing drink a unique appearance. You can have es daluman in small cups with plenty of ice.

Jamu

Jamu

Jamu is a traditional medicinal drink you can buy in bottles along the streets and cafes of Bali and Java. Locals say this herbal drink detoxifies your body and alleviates hangovers. You can make jamu by grating fresh turmeric and ginger. After this, you have to steam them for about 20 minutes.

Once your root crops are ready, blend them with warm water until smooth. Strain the turmeric mixture through a cheesecloth and refrigerate. This drink is best served cold, and you can mix it with coconut juice, lime, or honey.

Secret Recipe Tips for Balinese Food

Secret Recipe Tips for Balinese Food

How can you make authentic Balinese food at home? Here are the top Bali cooking techniques you should follow.

Mix Everything Well

Mix Everything Well

Balinese cooking puts heavy emphasis on mixing. You’ll notice that all recipes will tell you to mix the spices well before adding them to the cooking pot.

Salads also get mixed by hand in large wooden bowls. This step is vital because it’s when you can taste the dish and make the necessary adjustments.

Follow Your Taste Buds

Follow Your Taste Buds

We mentioned that the mixing process is when you can taste the food. The reason for this is traditionally, Balinese dishes don’t make use of measuring cups and weighing scales.

In Bali, locals add portions of ingredients by eye. Because of this, a great tip is to add as much or as little spice as you desire.

Remember that you’re cooking for yourself and your family. Taste the food and adjust it accordingly. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s only a matter of preference.

Perfect Your Basa Gede

Perfect Your Basa Gede

Basa gede or bumbu Bali is a Balinese spice paste mixture at the core of many Balinese cuisine recipes. Families make huge pots of the basa gede in advance, and they mix it in with different kinds of dishes.

For instance, you may use basa gede to make Balinese curry, sate lilit, or ayam betutu. It can be a marinade or a spicy dipping sauce.

To make the best basa gede, you’ll need finely chopped galangal, turmeric, ginger, and chili peppers. You should also sauté garlic, onion, and shrimp paste. Everything gets pounded until smooth and packed into clay pots for storage.

Buy the Right Tools

Buy the Right Tools

The tools you use when making Bali cuisine affect the outcome of the final dish. You may want to invest in Balinese steam baskets or clay pots to give your cooking an earthy fragrance.

Other modern gadgets, such as food processors, are convenient but can’t replace the fineness you achieve with stone grinders. These tools may seem hard to use, but we promise they contribute to the authenticity of your food.

Take It Slow

Take It Slow

Balinese culture is unrushed and relaxed. This is reflected in the cooking as well. When it’s time for a celebration or festival, locals wake up in the morning to prepare food. They have to start this early because there’s no rush during the cooking process.

Everyone sits together to chop and blend ingredients. Often, people socialize as they drink a special Balinese coffee. The prep work can take hours because they invest time and effort into making each component. There are no shortcuts here.

Use Open Fire

Use Open Fire

In traditional Balinese homes, you’ll find the kitchen and an open pit of embers right at the entrance. This fire is symbolic in the culture as locals say the flames burn away any bad spirits. Yet, that’s not all there is to it.

The use of open fire adds a depth of flavor to the cuisine that you can’t replicate with electrical cookware. Fire adds smokiness and savoriness to dishes, giving you that authentic taste you’re looking for.

This doesn’t mean you should have a fire pit to recreate dishes. A gas stove or charcoal grill is enough to work wonders on your cooking.

Explore Bali

Explore Bali

Finally, since authentic Balinese dishes are hard to come by, you may have to explore Bali to find a cooking class. Cooking classes are fun whole-day affairs on the island. Some cooking schools offer farm experiences where you can hand-pick the ingredients you’ll cook.

You may also walk around the wet markets and ask about the local ingredients. Don’t be afraid to try all the dishes. Doing so will help you recreate the authentic flavors when you return home.

Balinese Ingredients

Balinese Ingredients

What ingredients are common in Balinese cuisine? Below are the ingredients you may find in many of the dishes.

Shrimp Paste

Shrimp Paste

Terasi, or shrimp paste, is a popular ingredient in Indonesian recipes. It’s made with crushed shrimp, and the mixture gets fermented in salt for weeks. You can find dried and powdered versions of this condiment as well.

Shrimp paste has a pungent smell that adds a distinct flavor to Balinese food. It’s savory, salty, and packed full of umami. Locals use shrimp paste in sambal matah and bumbu Bali as flavor enhancers.

Coconut

Coconut

Many parts of the coconut are used in Balinese cooking. The husks become bowls for soups and steaming vessels for ducks. Coconut meat gets chopped and added to salads and main dishes. Meanwhile, coconut milk goes into hearty curries and soups.

Kaffir Lime

Kaffir Lime

Kaffir lime fruit and leaves add citrusy and sour notes to plenty of Balinese dishes. It’s the predominant taste in the popular sweet and sour tempeh. Sate lilit and sambal matah also need kaffir lime for acidity.

Palm Sugar

Palm Sugar

Palm sugar syrup is in almost every Balinese dessert. People even add it to savory dishes. This natural sweetener comes from the sap of palm flowers, and it has a hint of caramel.

It adds complexity and smokiness to the cuisine. Plus, it’s not as sweet as table sugar. Palm sugar gives Balinese desserts a subtle taste.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices

Balinese cuisine is all about herbs and spices. Here are the ones you’ll commonly find in most of the food.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a long fragrant plant with a thick white stem. The stem gets crushed and mixed into Balinese marinades and sauces. Additionally, lemongrass stems are sturdy enough for use as barbecue sticks in sate lilit.

This grass adds a light citrusy and minty scent to food without making it sour. You may use it in savory and sweet dishes. Some even boil it and make a delicious lemongrass tea.

Turmeric

Turmeric

If a certain Balinese food contains turmeric, you’ll know it. This is because it has an intense yellow color that stains anything it touches. Turmeric is a rhizome like ginger, but it’s earthy and peppery. Some studies say it’s great for inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and arthritis.

Balinese dishes with turmeric are often bright yellow and flavorful. You’ll find it in Balinese pork and chicken curry. Sate lilit has this root in the marinade, and basa gede has finely crushed turmeric.

Galangal

Galangal

Galangal is a root similar to ginger, but the flavor is earthy with citrus and mustard notes. You can find galangal in ares soup and sate lilit. Locals add galangal into bumbu Bali as well.

There are three types of this rhizome, all of which are usable in Balinese cuisine. Lesser galangal is more peppery than the others. Meanwhile, greater galangal is milder and flowery. The third type, light galangal, is zingy and spicy.

Salam Leaf

Salam Leaf

Dahon salam is an Indonesian bay leaf you can incorporate into several dishes. It’s in sweet and sour tempe, curry, and soto ayam. The taste is exactly like bay leaf, but the fragrance is less prominent. You may use one regular bay leaf to replace two salam leaves.

Red Chili Pepper

Red Chili Pepper

When we say the Balinese long chili pepper is in every dish, it’s not an exaggeration. This red chili is what makes the cuisine spicy, earthy, and floral.

The most common variety you’ll see in Balinese cooking is the bird’s eye chili. It has a Scoville rating of 100,000 to 225,000 and packs a punch.

Balinese Food Culture – What You Should Know

Balinese Food Culture – What You Should Know

Bali has a rich culture that’s deep-rooted in its food and religion. Food often gets divided into daily dishes and ceremonial dishes. The latter may involve certain dining rituals, symbolism, and philosophies.

In Bali, plenty of thought goes into each ingredient’s preparation. As a tourist, knowing some of the traditions will help you have a better experience when eating with locals. So, what Bali food customs should you know about? Let’s find out.

Eating Habits

Eating Habits

Rice is a staple in Balinese culture. In general, most meals in Bali come with a big plate of rice, and locals eat it along with other viands. The women of the compound cook the food early in the morning and leave them in clay pots. Others may come to get their meal at any time.

As a province that’s predominantly Hindu, the Balinese will have pork dishes. However, beef is a sacred animal, so they rarely consume this type of meat. Fish, chicken, lamb, and even turtles are all appropriate foods.

Balinese cuisine tends to come in small servings on banana plates. You have to eat everything on the plate before you request a second serving. To add to this, if you don’t want a second serving, it’s polite to leave a little bit of food on the plate.

Meal Structure

Meal Structure

People in Bali often eat two meals a day. One in the morning and the other in the evening. Eating these meals is not a social activity, and there’s no set time for when you have to eat. Family members can grab a serving whenever they feel hungry.

Daily Balinese meals consist of meat, fresh vegetables, and rice. There will always be a spicy chili sauce or sambal to go with each dish.

On the flip side, ceremonial dishes are completely different. During ceremonies, the whole community works together to prepare and offer many types of dishes.

Interestingly, locals see cooking for ceremonies as an aggressive affair. Because of this, the men will slaughter the meat and cook the dishes. The women prepare vegetables and fruits as offerings. Some of the Balinese festival foods include babi guling, sate ayam, and betutu bebek.

Etiquette

Etiquette

There’s a Paon philosophy locals live by. For them, the kitchen is a sacred place, and the fire can ward off evil spirits. As a guest, you must keep the sacredness of the kitchen. Do this by showing proper respect and etiquette when dining in a Balinese home.

Sitting for a Meal. Traditionally, when there’s a festival or ceremony, Balinese people gather around the eating area. This is one of the rare occasions when locals dine together. They sit with crossed legs on the floor and eat with their hands.

As a courtesy, you should never start eating unless the host invites you to do so. Avoid pointing at food with one finger as this is rude. Instead, you may gesture to dishes with your whole hand, taking care to keep your palm downward.

The Proper Eating Etiquette. In Bali, eating with the right hand is preferable since locals believe the left hand is unclean. Plus, if you’re passing a plate of food to another person, you should use your right or both hands.

Don’t worry if your host remains silent as you’re eating. Just savor the food and appreciate the work that went into it.

After the Meal. After the meal, you should leave a little bit of food on your plate to show your host that they fed you well. Your host may also give you a small present as a remembrance. By all means, send them a thank-you gift of equal value as a token of appreciation.

Other Tips. If you’re visiting a local’s house, it’s a good idea to bring a small present as a show of goodwill. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A pack of cookies is enough.

Do come in the proper attire. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, and remove your shoes upon entry. Doing this means you respect the sacredness of the host’s home and kitchen.

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