One of the (many) things that I love about traveling is experimenting with less familiar flavors and ingredients, both while cooking and eating out. However, up until now my forays into cooking local cuisine have been via solo experimentation. This week, though, I attended an Indonesian cooking class.
Our first stop was the local market.
About a fourth of the market seemed to be dedicated to temple decorations and canang sari – the palm leaf boxes filled with daily offerings I wrote about earlier.
(The tasty looking treats above are not for simple snacking! They go into the canang sari.)
For the canang sari, you could buy palm leaves to create your own boxes, pre-made boxes to save time, or even pre-filled boxes to save even more time, like the ones below.
Food choices also varied in their level of readiness. For examples, chickens came with heads or without. (Chicken heads were also available separately, as were various other chicken parts.)
You could buy the many ingredients to create a paste for cooking, or you could buy a pre-made bag of paste.
After the market, we headed off to cook in an open-air kitchen with occasional visiting chickens and dogs.
After making paste via mortar and pestle, I can sympathize with the people who buy bags of paste to save time – though the smell as we were crushing was pretty amazing.
The whole cooking class itself was fantastic – definitely one of my favorite experiences in Bali thus far. We had hands on practice chopping, crushing, cooking, grilling, wrapping – and of course, we practiced lots of tasting as well. I left with a book or recipes and the courage to be more liberal with my onions, garlic, and chilis.
If you find yourself in the Sanur area, I very much recommend Bamboo Shoots for an excellent introduction to Indonesian cooking.