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Main l Exotic Cuisine

Dining in Bali pose endless possibilities as Indonesia has one of the world's greatest cuisine. From a five-star restaurant to a roadside stall, you will be amazed by the choices offered. Tourist-oriented restaurants abound in tourist centers but Indonesian and Chinese food is predominant.

Influences from all corners of the globe make up Balinese comestibles. Curries, cucumber, eggplant, Indian mustard and cow peas came from India; the Chinese brought the wok and stir-frying, Chinese mustard, and vegetables such as brassica and Chinese cabbage; from Arabia came kebabs and mouthwatering goat stews, while the Europeans introduced avocados, peanuts, pineapples, guavas, papayas, tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins, cocoa, soybean and cauliflower.

Balinese cooking revolves around spices, often partnered by coconut milk, which adds a rich flavor and creamy texture to intriguing dishes of tropical vegetables, poultry, meat and fish. Sugar, fragrant roots and leaves are fondly used and the end result is food that is both subtle and sophisticated. Rice is the basis of any Indonesian meal. A main serving of rice is normally taken first, followed by a small portion of three to four dishes of vegetables or meat, known as lauk. These dishes of lauk are placed in the center of the table for all to share.

A side dish or sambal, made with red-hot chilies ground with dried shrimp paste and other seasonings such as lime juice should be taken with caution. It can be scorching for the inexperienced or chili intolerant person, so do not be too adventurous with your sampling. If indeed you are scorched, do not drink water immediately as it will only worsen the situation; instead settle for bananas, plain boiled rice, bread or cucumber. However, delicious side dishes like tempeh, a protein-charged savory cake made of fermented soybeans, and rempeyek, small crisp cookies made of peanuts, should not be missed.

Five Legs

For simple dining, there are warungs - snack bars and mobile carts that cater mainly to local workers and those who understand that low cost hawker meals are really safe to eat. These three-wheeled carts are often pushed by young boys and are nicknamed kaki lima, which means five legs - the three wheels of the cart and the two legs of the boy!

Adventurous travelers can delight in sampling all these delicacies that can be found within reach. Those who are unsure but are willing to try should go for something simple such as pisang goreng or banana fritters, lumpia, a type of fried spring roll, and bakso, a meatball soup. Lawar, a specialty of Bali, is composed of minced pork, coconut and spices. Other types of lawar that are available include chicken, egg, green bean, and jackfruit. Do take note though, if it is red in color, it is made of fresh raw blood. You should also try a snack called tupat, which is normally not found elsewhere. It is actually steamed rice in coconut-leaf packages that are cubed with tofu, cucumber, spinach and sprouts and mixed with a fiery peanut sauce. Do not miss bubur injin or black rice pudding for breakfast or dessert, it is heavenly! Do ask locals for a price estimation but expect to pay around Rp. 2,000 to Rp. 5,000.

Tropical Fruits

Bali has a extensive range of fruits, some unimaginable and some you wish you had never imagined! One of these is the fabled durian, the King of Fruits, which is a thorny fruit the size of a football. It has an offensive smell to some but are prized by locals. Others that can be savored include mangoes, mangosteens, bananas, jackfruit, rambutans, markisas, pineapples, papayas, longans, melons, oranges, and custard apples, to name a few. Of course, the best fruit would be the salak or the snakeskin fruit. This scaly, brown fruit encloses a crunchy white fruit with a pear-like flavor; Bali is famous for its salak.

Tips and Hints

Bottled drinking water (air) is highly recommended. The most common brand is Aqua, which is synonymous to drinking water. Just be certain that the bottle has an intact plastic seal! Many people confuse the effects of an altered diet with the symptoms of more serious illnesses. When there is an inclusion of herbs, spices and palm oil, numerous travelers will experience changes in bowel actions. Some people may fall ill from eating in the markets while others may have the same effect dining at the most exclusive restaurants. But these do not pinpoint to any particular eating venue. Rely on your five senses when choosing the right place and type of food to eat but most importantly, have a great meal!

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