Flavours of Indonesia: Traditional Balinese Master Class at Riwaz

Flavours of Indonesia: Traditional Balinese Master Class at Riwaz

Special Culinary experience by visiting Chef Made

Renowned Balinese Chef Made Karyasa is an artist who carefully observes the world around for inspiration, and deeply believes in the flippancies of his heart and mind to create art that feeds the soul.

The supremely skilled chef and brains behind Bejana, the signature Indonesian restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Bali, Made’s achievements in his field of work are a reflection of his strong work ethics. An artist who takes no time to find humour in situations least expected, he wears his smile like a charmer and the warmth of the kitchen resonates beautifully with the warmth of his heart. The raucous laughter that filled the room where he guided us to Balinese cooking was a sign of how much everyone enjoyed being a part of it.

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Tanya Dhar with Chef Made Karyasa

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Tanya Dhar with Anupam Banerjee, Executive Chef Ritz-Carlton Bangalore and Gargi Guha, PR Director Ritz-Carlton Bangalore

 

Even in a city like Bangalore, so full of eclectic cuisine and swarming with restaurants, Balinese cuisine has somehow escaped the attention that it is truly deserving of.

In an era where handy sandwiches and takeaway coffees are our idea of energy boosters, Bali celebrates food as a healing ritual ~ a singular source of nourishment for the body. Everything from preparing the dish to serving it and sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends or family members has warmth, and the feeling of a communal celebration of life! Through the course of the Balinese Cooking Class at Riwaz, Ritz-Carton Bangalore, I realized that not only did I get an insight into the cooking techniques and methods used in Bali but also the food culture followed by the Balinese.

If you’re looking to truly get a glimpse into authentic Balinese life, then a Balinese cooking class is where you need to find yourself!

 

Our morning class commenced crisply at 11 am. In keeping with Balinese traditions we were offered a refreshing and wholesome chilled ginger tea that had the lovely aroma of lemongrass and was sweetened by honey. Having enticed our senses with the tea, we soon realized that this was just the start of a roller coaster ride which took us through flavours, sights and smells of some of the freshest spices used in Balinese cookery.

 

This is where it starts: Basa Gede ~ the Basic Sauce

This basic sauce is the mother of all dishes that is used so commonly in Balinese cuisine that there was no going forward without knowing how to put it together. Known as Basa Gede on home turf, many also know it as the “magic sauce” because of its adaptability. The ingredients include five types of ginger, shallots, chilli, garlic, pepper, coriander, bay leaves, lemongrass and sugar.

All of these are ground to a paste which can be stored and used for the preparation of a wide range of recipes including soups and satays.

As we learned how to whip up the basic sauce, Chef Karyasa kept the energy in the room surging talking about the traditions of Bali, himself and his journey. One of the most interesting things he had to say was that the main event when it came to partaking of a meal was the preparation. Usually the women {but for ceremonies also the men} prepare the food for the whole day together and just leave it in a pot in the kitchen. That way everyone has the freedom to eat when they want. 🙂

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Having mastered the sauce {or at least hoping to have mastered the sauce}, we proceeded to learning two very delicious traditional Balinese dishes:

Garang Asem Sayuran
{Sautéed vegetables}

Serves 5 

Ingredients                                                                                   Quantity

  • Pumpkin Cubes                                                                  400 gms
  • Potato Cubes                                                                       400 gms
  • Zucchini                                                                                200 gms
  • Green Beans                                                                         100 gms
  • Tomato Wedges                                                                   100 gms
  • Carambola {chopped}                                                         100 gms
  • Green Small Chili {chopped}                                              20 gms
  • Salam Leaf                                                                                 6 pcs
  • Salt                                                                                              5 gms

Gerang Asem Paste

  • Candle Nut                                                                               20 pcs
  • Shallots                                                                                     10 pcs
  • Garlic {peeled & chopped}                                                    10 pcs
  • Galangal {chopped}                                                                 7 gms

 

Preparation:

  • Blend the Gerang Asem paste ingredients into a smooth consistency.
  • Heat oil in a pot and pour in the paste. Add the chopped ingredients to it.
  • Add vegetables and simmer until the potatoes get soft.
  • Season the Sayuran as per taste and garnish with crispy shallots.

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Seafood Bumbu Bali
{Stir fried seafood served in a delectable Balinese sauce}

Serves 5

Ingredients                                                                                   Quantity

  • Prawns {size – 10 to 15 prawns per kg}                           5 pcs
  • Snapper Fillet                                                                      250 gms or 5 pcs
  • Squid flower                                                                         100 gms
  • Balinese paste                                                                      100 gms
  • Tomato Wedges                                                                   50 gms
  • Julienne Big Chilli                                                               20 gms
  • Scallops                                                                                   5 pcs
  • Sweet Basil                                                                             5 ml
  • Salt                                                                                           5 gms
  • Black Pepper                                                                          2 gms
  • Vegetables Oil                                                                      50 ml

Bumbu Genep

  • Large red chillies {halved, seeded and sliced}               300 gms
  • Shallots {peeled and sliced}                                              500 gms
  • Garlic {peeled and sliced}                                                  100 gms
  • Fresh Turmeric {peeled and sliced}                                 175 gms
  • Lesser Galangal {washed and sliced}                              100 gms
  • Galangal {peeled and sliced}                                               75 gms
  • Ginger {peeled and sliced}                                                   75 gms
  • Candlenuts                                                                              75 gms
  • Roasted shrimp paste                                                           10 gms
  • Roasted coriander seeds                                                      10 gms
  • Black peppercorns {crushed}                                              10 gms
  • Nutmeg {freshly grated}                                                        5 gms

 

Preparation:

  • Combine all ingredients except water and salt in a stone mortar or food processor and grind coarsely.
  • Take a heavy bottomed saucepan and add water along with the ground ingredients and salt. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 1 hour or until water evaporates and the paste takes on a golden colour. Cool this down before using or storing in the refrigerator.
  • Sauté the seafood with vegetable oil. Add the paste and stir in the tomato wedges. Pour in the stock and let this simmer until the sauce gains a thick consistency. Add basil as a final touch to this recipe.

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There was such an emphasis to detail with every dish, yet the entire session was light and spirited! Chef Made and his team took us through a beautiful journey which started and ended in the brightest of smiles punctuated only by the sudden break of laughter every now and then.

 

End note: I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Balinese cooking class and had stepped into this class on a very neutral note. Chef Made who oozes passion for his enticing and spiritual country, made Balinese cooking seem so exciting and effortless that I couldn’t wait to recreate what we had learned in my kitchen!

The stimulating morning concluded with a celebratory lunch where we were able to enjoy the lovely meal we had created. I returned home with a smile, a personalized master-class certificate and some very tempting handcrafted macaroons.

 

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Verdict: Cooking almost always goes deeper than the ingredients and the preparation. This class followed the same philosophy helping us understand the importance of mindfulness in the preparations of our dishes. Balinese cooking, like I’ve mentioned earlier, brings people together. They don’t follow the adage “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Instead they believe that more hands make work easy. I wonder if this is the sentiment that creates a well-bonded community.

 

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Share your thoughts and tell me about your experiences with traditional Balinese cuisine.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

24 Comments

  • Awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing, Tanya! I hope it will urge people to attempt experiences like this so they can learn more about the cultures they love!

  • Adding these delicious dishes to my “to try” list! I’ve never been to the Ritz-Carlton but I’ve heard awesome things about their F&B outlets!

  • Although I love Indonesian cuisine and it appears to be anything but difficult to make, however at home I can never get the flavour right! If I ever got the chance to returned to Asia I’ll definitely sign up for a cooking class, to get into the vibe again!

  • How exciting! I’ve been itching to take a Balinese cooking class – it appears like such a great way to delve into another culture and learn a skill to bring home with you! Looks like you had a great time!

  • Incredible post, Tanya! I’m an enthusiast of cooking courses as an approach to enrich your cultural experience. Also, I adore lemongrass, lime leaves and ginger which all feature prominently. Thanks for sharing.

  • I loved the article, and the food looks incredible! What an awesome idea – immerse yourself in the exotic flavours and bring back something beyond recollections.

  • Cooking classes are such a fun way to learn about a country’s culture. When I visited Bali a few years ago, I didn’t have the opportunity to take a class however I did love the flavours of their food so I think it would be really cool to take a class, here in Bangalore.

  • What a great experience! I have never taken a cooking class however it is something I definitely need to attempt soon. I have not attempted Balinese food but it sounds delicious.

  • There’s nothing better than a big bowl of zesty and flavourful Bali food! It has a magic that many other types of gastronomy can’t beat. Thanks for sharing!

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