Ungasan – a small village on the Indonesian island of Bali, not far from the Ulu Watu temple, is best known for the Indonesian cookery courses that take place there. A local family, all smiles, invites you to come in and visit their traditional home with its spatious backyard garden. First, a mandatory lesson in how to prepare offerings for good and evil spirits. We get busy right away with weaving tiny baskets from coconut and banana leaves, into which we place flowers, fruit and rice. Bali Hindus believe that the world is ruled by opposites – good and evil, day and night, gods and demons, and only a balance between them can guarantee the continuity of life and well-being. We place the offering in front of shrines inside the house. The gods have to be appeased first, and only after than has happened can you think of satiating yourself.
tekst & photos ©Dominika Zaręba
The hosts have created a unique school of Indonesian and Bali cuisine in their own home. „Taste of Bali” is an authentic local, ecotourism initiative. In the courtyard, underneath an awning, there is an open-air kitchen – a large table for making the dishes with a row of wok pans alongside it. The smell of spices and fresh vegetables, bought today at the local fair, drifts across the entire garden. – Coriander, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, nutmeg, galangal, cardamon, chili peppers, are only some of the spices which we use in our cuisine – mentions I Gusti Ngurah Gede Suarta, host, chef and the brains behind the culinary workshops in Ungasan. We spend the entire day in pleasant company (including some Canadian tourists) and under the watchful eye of our instructor we manage to cook some nasi goreng, which is rice with vegetables in bumbu sauce, as well as mee goreng – noodles with vegetables, corn soup, chap chay vegetables with chicken, and finally gado-gado – a delightful peanut sauce dressing which goes great with a mix of vegetables. Every dish has to be savored, so we end up being treated to a real feast, which pays off all the hard work. But that’s not all – we still have dessert – fried bananas and sweet potatoes – It’s no easy task to get the 1st level diploma, you really have to demonstrate you’ve earned it – the host’s wife eggs us on, handing us a collection of recipes which are in today’s menu. In the end, I succeed in getting a certificate signed by the instructor and I have something to paste into my taste & smell album. I Gusti Ngurah Gede Suarta presents me with a bag full of Indonesian spices – Take the scent of Bali home with you!
My rucksack and one of the drawers in my kitchen continue to hide these wonderful smells. In fact, I usually get to talking about my trip to Bali whenever I open up this drawer. These memories turn my thoughts to future trips in the rhythm of slow & local food.
English translation: Piotr Szmigielski