When we’re on the road, especially when we’re in a very different place where the food is completely different from what we’re used to, we like to take cooking classes. Here is our experience while taking a Bali cooking class in Ubud. We lucked out on this one. I didn’t do much research. We actually chose the first one we found. So I’m glad we found Paon Bali. It was an awesome place to get an Indonesian cooking lesson!
Wayan picks you up from your hostel or hotel if you’re staying in Ubud (we stayed at Nick’s Pension, by the way – great place) and he takes you to a beautiful rice paddy close to their home where they explain to you the significance of rice in Balinese culture. After that, your next stop is their home, which is a beautiful Balinese abode with a backyard that is absolutely perfect for the cooking class you’re about to take! (For the morning class, you’ll actually go to the market and do a tour and buy your ingredients. We didn’t do that, which was quite OK with me!)
Bali cooking class – fresh ingredients
When you get to their home, all the fresh ingredients are set out for you and you’re ready to cook! Some of those ingredients even come from their herb garden, which they keep on site (but mostly to show you what the stuff looks like before it’s picked).
I’m a huge fan of Indonesian sauces, so I was not only pleased to discover that we were going to use one, but that we were going to make it from scratch! But it wasn’t going to be easy. It was gonna take some manual labor. Fortunately, Halef has muscles and endurance. And because this was going to take a while, everyone took their turns!
For me, this “from scratch” stuff really makes this one of the best cooking schools out there for tourist who want to get an introduction to Indonesian cooking.
When it was done, this was the wonderful final product! This is our entire vegetarian plate. Doesn’t it look delicious? It was amazing and included:
- Rice cooked in coconut milk
- Deep fried tempeh in sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
- Tofu satay skewers
- Coconut and snake bean salad
For dessert – Boiled Bananas in Palm Sugar Syrup:
The experience of our Bali Cooking class
The best part of our Bali cooking class, other than the food itself, was how at ease Puspa and Wayan made everyone feel. After a welcome drink and an explanation of the Balinese household, everyone seemed to get on like we’d known each other for years, even though we had only known each other for less than 20 minutes!
Base Gede Bumbu Kuning – Basic yellow sauce
Here is the recipe for the yellow sauce. You can use it in just about any style dish where you might use some sort of chili paste. It’s absolutely delicious, and I’ve even made a large batch and froze what I didn’t use! You’ll notice there are quite a few ingredients. But it builds layers of flavors that are amazing. This recipe makes a lot, so half it if you need to. And make it all using a large mortar & pestle. A food processor works fine, but the taste will be slightly different because the pounding in the mortar & pestle layers the flavors better.
- 10 shallots
- 15 cloves of garlic
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of galangal, lesser galangal, ginger, and turmeric – each
- 2 hot chiles
- 3 red chiles
- 4 macadamia nuts
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 1. teaspoon of white pepper
- 2 cloves
- 0.25 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 2 bay leaves (or salam leaves if you got ’em)
- 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
- Clean everything, obviously, except for seeds & powders. Slice and remove the seeds from the chilies (unless you like it extra hot!)
- Finally, chop the shallots, garlic, the root spices, macadamia nuts, red chilies, and hot chilies.
- Either beat the crap out of all the chopped ingredients in a mortar & pestle, or use a blender or food processor if you have to. Either way, it all should form a fine paste.
- Sauté the paste in coconut oil. Crush the lemongrass stalk and then add salt, pepper, palm sugar, bay leaves, and the lemongrass to the paste. Sauté for about 7 minutes on low heat.
The sauce lasts for a week in the refrigerator, but for much longer if you freeze it!
Is this the best Bali cooking class in Ubud? I don’t know. But I would guess it is close to the top. The experience was great and everyone had an amazing time. Enjoy!
Name: Paon Bali
Where: Ubud, Bali
When 08:30 and 16:00
Cost: Rp. 350,000 (about $27 USD)
How: Book at the above link. If you’re around Ubud, they pick you up!
Bonus: Free beer!
If you’re on a budget, check out this excellent article on Bali on a Budget: Tips for cheap travel in Indonesia.
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