Let’s be honest, I can’t cook to save my life. But along with my wife and 13 year old daughter I did the half day cooking course at the Bali Asli Restaurant. The day we did the course the restaurant owner, Penny, was unavailable, though she did come and introduce herself and apologize. Our course was taken by Dewa Ariawan, who must be the head chef. Dewa was an absolute delight and being a local only added to the experience.
We started by learning how to make the baskets that are used for the various offering to the gods you see in every doorway, driveway, etc. across Bali. Dewa not only explained how to make the basket but the relevance of each piece of flower, etc. that goes into the basket. Nimble fingers are required to create these tiny baskets! Each piece having its own spot in the basket and signifying a particular offering to a specific god.
After this Dewa went through a basked of herbs, vegetable and fruits. Explaining the role of each in Indonesian cooking and allowing us to feel and taste them all, a great experience for the uninitiated. Then we all took our positions – Masterchef style – and proceeded to make four separate courses. Initially we were shown how to make the underlying ingredient by grinding all the different spices and herbs in our volcanic stone pestle and mortar. We then made chicken satay, Nasi Goreng, a fish disk cooked in a banana leaf, and a pumpkin-based dessert, again cooked in a banana leaf. The fish dish and the satay are cooked on the tradition Indonesian BBQ, which all adds to the fun of the morning.
At the end you sit down and eat your various courses. And as a nice souvenir you keep your apron. On top of all this the restaurant is in the most wonderful location, looking out across the valley to Mount Agung (the volcano) in the near distance – absolutely stunning.