I am a person who believes indulging in authentic local experiences while traveling to a new place. And trying out the local cuisine is a great way to do it. And places as diverse as Bali can cater mouth-watering food to suit almost anyone's palate. Here is a list of what I think you should never miss to taste when in the island.
1. Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng ( Fried Rice and Fried Noodles)
Oh, we eat fried rice and noodles all the time. How different the Indonesian one can be, right? Wrong! This was nothing like what we ever ate. An explosion of flavours with a lot of herbs, veggies and sometimes meat, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng are absolute must trys.
2. Mie Ayam (Chicken Noodles)
This one was our go to lunch in Bali. Almost all little food stalls here sell this bowl of soupy happiness and it always tasted heavenly that we never let even a bit go uneaten. The chicken served is cooked in dark and sweet soy sauce and fish sauce which gives it a unique drool-worthy flavour. Usually the bowl also contains meatballs, some crispies and spring onions.
If you are going to Penglipuran Traditional Village, I can't recommend a small Warung named Bu Cinta enough. The Mie Ayam they served was easily the best thing we ate from Bali.
3. Babi Guling (Suckling Pig)
If you don't have any dietary restriction that forbid you from eating pork, please don't leave Bali without having your share of Babi Guling. A whole pig is roasted and infused with spices and herbs making it tender and juicy. We had a Babi Guling platter which contained a huge slice of pig fat, a piece of pork with skin roasted to a crisp, a slice of spicy pork sausage, and a huge chunk of tender pork meat imbued in sauces served with rice, which was a feast to any pork lover.
4. Nasi Campur (Mixed Rice)
A scoop of rice served with small portions of numerous of sides, this one reminded us of Sadya. You can always pick what sides should go in to your plate, and there are delicious veg and non veg options. Apart from being incredibly toothsome, one plate of wholesome Nasi Campur also fuels you for an entire day of adventure.
5. Pisang Goreng (Banana Fritters)
Now this may not be an entirely new dish for the Pazhampori loving Malayalees, but we loved the Indonesian twist. Banana is deep-fried in unsweetened batter and served with a side of palm sugar syrup or honey. We were served this as breakfast at our homestay in Kintamani, but a plate of Pisang Goreng is also a perfect accompaniment for your evening cup of coffee.
5. Kopi Bali (Balinese Coffee)
Bali - especially villages like Ubud and Munduk - is a coffee lovers' paradise. We were never able to say no to a steaming hot cup of Kopi Bali. Apart from regular black coffee, you can get it in almost any flavour you could think of - including the much sought out cat-poo-chino or Kopi Luwak. Made from the droppings of Civet cat, the Luwak coffee has a more soft, less sour taste than regular coffee.
6. JFC (Jaya Fried Chicken)
It might seem a bit weird to include a local KFC imitation fast-food franchise to this list, but hear me out. JFC, which is found in almost any little town, is the perfect place where you could gorge on a fusion of local and foreign cuisine. It also came as a savior for us after a long chilly bike ride through treacherous deserted hairpin roads to Kintamani at night when almost all other restaurants were closed - so we have personal reasons as well to recommend it.
Being tropical, Bali offers a huge array of exotic fruits. We obviously couldn't try them all, but from what we tasted, Snake Fruit or Salak is a clear favourite - which has a lemony, pineapple-y flavour. Make sure to also relish on star fruits, mangosteen and deep pink dragon fruits which leave your hands with their tint.
8. Bintang Beer
If beer is your thing, Bintang is the way to roll in Bali. This Indonesian gold coloured lager comes from the Heineken family. We also used the leftover beer as conditioner for our hair that was dry and rough from all those beach dips, and it worked wonders.