In our time here in Indonesia not one of the agreed meetings or pickups has been on time. We got the hotel to serve us breakfast one hour before normal serving time today, and guessed we would have time to eat before the pickup arrived. As if…
We had just gotten the breakfast served when today’s driver showed up. Breakfast was then speedy expedited and we set of towards Balinese farm cooking school.
Already our co-chef for the day was waiting in the car. Stephanie from Canada would be our only companion for the day. We had originally asked to do this on Tuesday, but because of a group booking we were going Wednesday. For us that turned out to be a blessing. With the three of us we got a lot of time with the instructor and we could basically do all the activities everyone of us.
The farm is located to the north of Ubud. To the rice terraces we visited by motorbike about a week ago. We stopped at the same place this morning and there where no one else there. The sun was in our eyes, but we took pictures anyway.
Next stop was at the local market at the village the farm is connected to. This was clearly a local market and a lot of locals where there to buy this mornings fresh products. We walked around and looked at a lot of the products, and got explanation from our driver. It was really cool to see fish, vegetables, nuts, spices, sweets and clothes displayed. And I think the average age of the salesmen where 100 years. At least they were all grandmas, maybe even grand-grandmas.
We didn’t buy anything there, and thought it was handled up front.
We drive all the way up to the farm and was now about an hour north of Ubud. The roads got smaller and more bumpy. We finally parked on the farm and found a beautiful place out there in the jungle. It was really a farm and there where a lot of plants and trees around. We were introduced to the staff and the head instructor. And then the fun began.
We started the class with a walk around the farm and got introduced to both known and unknown plants. Some we knew the products from, but not the bush or plant itself. It was cool to see vanilla tree, cacao tree, eggplant plant (sic.) and ginger plant. We picked our own vegetables from this abundant field of greens. We picked things we knew and things that looked more like green snakes.
So there where right that we did not buy at the market, we took it from the field to the table (yes, all y’all sceptic’s out there. They were washed properly).
Along the way we passed a chili tree. “Did we want to taste?”, he asked and laughed. I took a bite of the top, and it was enough to make my ears burn. Katja took some more of the same little bugger, and got a nice sweaty upper lip. We learned then that the chili isle hot the closer you get to the stem. Nice to know in a chili standoff.
We also got introduced tonsure palm sugar. A very nice way of sweetening food. It is made from water that are taken from the palm trees. The water sits for 24 hours and start to ferment and create alcohol. Then it is boiled over and over again till only the sugar is left. And it was soooo good. It could be eaten as a treat in it’s own right, if you ask me.
We then got an introduction to the herbal use of some of the spices. Did you know that:
– Turmeric is used as medicine when bleeding. Make a paste and smear on the wound. And when you got red eyes: Boil turmeric and lay it on. It is also used for tea. You can use it to color rice and will color the hands if you hold long.
– Lesser galanga. Eat directly for curing a common cold
– Ginger is good for scrub. Make paste and put on skin to heat up. Can be used instead of Tiger Balm. Ginger comes in three versions on Bali. The normal, red and elephant. The last one is really big compared to the normal one.
– Guava leavs is used to heal Bali belly. Boil in water with sugar and salt.
We probably got more, but my memory needs space for the rest of the day’s action.
Some of these spices takes 10 months from sow to harvest. They are planted in dry season and harvested before the next one. A very long time on the ground compared to our March to September season in Norway.
From then on it was cooking and eating.
We got an introduction to Balinese culinary and how important then Base Gede (basic spice paste) are for making a lot of these dishes. Then we set out to cook the day’s first to dishes.
First of was the Tempe manis, a fried Tempe dish with palm sugar, chili, garlic and onion. (Chili should be the last ingredient in the pan. The more spicy you want the food, the shorter time the chili should be in the pan) Tempe is an Indonesian “Invention” and is a product of Soy beans. It is fermented and backed into blocks. A popular meat replacer around the world. It tastes nothing like tofu, thank you very much, and fried to crispy bits it’s quite delicious. Together with this we also made a dish of (hand picked) vegetables called Sayur Urab. This last dish has ben served us a lot of times during our stay in Indonesia. It is excellent as a side to different other dishes. We ate these with rice and enjoyed it immensely.
After a brief pause to catch our breath we set out to do three more dishes.
A lot of places we have eaten there has been “minced meat on a stick” served on top of other dishes. That is “Babi sate lilit”. Babi is pork, sate is the spice and lilit is the way it is twisted onto the stick to make it… well, stick to the stick. We made some with grated coconut, and some without. It was more than just the flavor that changed as the texture was very different between the two. We fried these in oil on a cooking pan made for deep frying.
Another dish today was the “Opor ayam” chicken curry, or Curry chicken directly translated. Here we first made the basic Gede paste and fried this in coconut oil. Then we added chicken and put it all in boiling water together with chopped carrot, potatoes and green pumpkin. It simmered for about 20 minutes before we added coconut milk.
Again we ate the dishes with rice. “Rice to all meals”, we learned. And it was so good we all got a second serving of it.
For dessert vi made “Pisang Goreng” banana fried. Goreng is a part of many dish names here in Indonesia. Masi Goreng and Mie Goreng are the most popular, fried rice and fried noodles.
Fried bananas are made with a pancake like mixture where you dip the banana before using a deep fryer. We sweetened them with grated coconut and palm sugar. Oh, sweet heavenly taste. I have never been much for deep fried food, but this was goooooood.
When we were to leave we went to their reception area to pay our bills. There was a man sitting there with the traditional Balinese instruments. Katja tried first to play, and the video below shows the new show girl of Bali. I got a shot at it also, and it was cool to finally get to known the structure of their music. Not just hear it as random beating on the instrument.
We went to the hotel, fell asleep pool side and ate dinner at an Italian restaurant. Tomorrow is new day with new adventures. We plan yoga at 10 and then an excursion to Tana Loth temple for the evening. It is supposed to be very beautiful at sunset watch out for possible pictures.
I end withy words of writer, Terry Pratchett as a wave to my sister:
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
29/10/2014 at 01:49
It was a pleasure to meet you guys there. It was one of the highlights of my trip. Unfortunatly, I’m back home in cold Canada now, but I wish you a very nice trip.
Thanks for the story and the pictures
29/10/2014 at 17:21
Likewise Stéphanie. We were lucky to get you as our team mate for this cooking class. I hope the rest of your tour was good as well. After hearing about your uncle’s travels and stories I hope Indonesia showed itself from it’s best side. Take care. 🙂