While in Ubud Kelsey really wanted to take a Balinese cooking class. We choose to take a class with Payuk Cooking School (referred by our guesthouse) and it turned out to be a great recommendation. Our guide, Kadek Siman, picked us up at our guesthouse and took us to a local market for a tour. He showed us the most common fruits and vegetables used in Balinese cooking, having us smell and taste various herbs and fruits along the way. Traditionally they do the food shopping at the break of dawn for the freshest possible ingredients, so our spin through the market was purely informative – everything we’d be cooking with was already purchased (and organic!).
We drove to the family home, a beautiful property with various houses for all of the extended family and a huge open air kitchen overlooking the river below. Kadek showed us how to make our own traditional Balinese offerings for the gods. Then he demonstrated the long process of how coconut-cooking oil is made: boiling it again and again, until pure and perfectly clear in color. After which we made our way to the kitchen where we met Chef Ketut Budi who explained the menu for the evening.
It was such a wonderful experience to help create the various dishes using traditional Balinese cooking tools and learning all of the steps involved (yellow steamed rice – far from simple!). We had more food than the three of us could eat (don’t worry the family ate the rest) but a large dinner, like the one we had is only held on special occasions. Normally one large meal is made in the morning for the entire family, who can come and eat (individually) as they please. This is the one time of the day that the food is warm. The rest of the day they continue to eat from the same food (whenever they want) but it’s cold. It was pretty mind blowing to think of this style of eating as compared to the US. I guess if I lived with my entire extended family, I wouldn’t feel the need to eat at a table with them either once or twice a day. The food we made at Payuk was so fresh and delicious, possibly the best meal we had in Bali. In addition to good ingredients and skilled techniques (Chef Ketut’s!!), the food was prepared with songs and laughter – always a good addition.
James did a fantastic job capturing this experience, I can almost smell the coconut oil...