Bali's food and cuisine is always a highlight to any trip to this stunning island holiday destination, whether you choose to indulge in some of the more traditional fare or stick to the more familiar standards of the hotel restaurants. The many open air bamboo cafes found along Bali's streets are the perfect spot to soak up the atmosphere while you enjoy a meal however if you feel more comfortable dining at one of the hotel and resort restaurants, there are plenty to choose from to suit all tastes and budgets.
However, it's worth trying traditional Bali cuisine for an authentic experience while you're visiting. Despite what images the exotic sounding Bali food may conjure, true Balinese cuisine is a contrast between everyday food and festival food. A staple Balinese diet generally consists of rice and vegetables accompanied by small amounts of meat or fish cooked in a range of condiments. Food is eaten quickly, when necessary and without fuss. Eating out or in groups is not a social custom in Bali.
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That is with the exception of major festivals, where food is prepared elaborately and decorated to be eaten in a communal environment to mark the occasion of importance. Unfortunately unless you are lucky enough to be visiting during a festival or invited to dine with some of the locals, hotel, resort and tourist restaurant Bali cultural nights may be your only chance to experience a traditional Bali feast.
Apart from festival food, most Bali cuisine served in restaurants include the Indonesian fried rice dish featuring egg known as nasi goreng as well as fried noodles with egg, mie goreng. These dishes are fairly basic and are designed to be eaten by tourist tummies who may not be used to quite an exotic diet. However, if you're willing to try some of the more spicy dishes your taste buds will be rewarded with some of the local favourites including the spicy peanut sauce and barbequed meat skewer dish of satay, a spicy Indonesian salad known as gado gado and other more Chinese influenced dishes such as the sweet and sour dish stir fry dish cap-cay.
Fresh seafood is a popular ingredient in most Bali cuisine and fish and shellfish are generally kept in tanks until they are ready to be killed and cooked. Most Bali food is influenced by popular Indonesian meals such as martabak, a roti bread filled with vegetables or meat and fried and opor ayam, coconut milk chicken served with white rice. Although the Balinese are not renowned for having a sweet tooth, there are a couple of sweet dishes that they do enjoy including martabak manis, a sweet pancake topped with butter, cheese, chocolate, condensed milk and peanuts and bubuh injin, a black rice pudding served hot with a thick coconut cream and palm sugar sweet sauce.