Bali is a food lover's adventure!
Zesty, complex, clean flavours, not necessarily very spicy, a wide variety of seafood, perfect for vegetarians, but if you enjoy pork, the Balinese specialise in its preparation as it is ceremonial fare - and the Balinese have more ceremonies than anywhere else I know! (The ceremonial food used to be sea turtle, but this practice stopped as the turtles became more difficult to find)
Even the humble fried rice - nasi goreng - steamed rice wok-tossed with vegetables and sauces that you'll find throughout Indonesia, is given a Balinese twist.
Bali Bumbu, a unique island blend of spices that makes all the difference. Each Balineses lady will have her own way to make it special, but at Villa Nilaya it's the little extras that make it truly memorable: a dash of fish sauce, a dollop of kecap manis, and pinches of spices, which, although not traditionally Balinese, give it an extra dimension and depth. Almost every recipe depends on a dash of Bumbu, so getting it right makes all the difference, and in Bali, fried rice just isnt nasi goreng without it.
The signature flavour of Bali ?
I think it has to be satay sauce, a fragrant, thick, rich dipping sauce made with with ground peanuts (or cashews if you are allergic to peanuts), lemon grass, galangal, shallot, spices, zesty Bali limes and a mean little Balinese chilli - plus other ingredients whic are chef's secret - combine to make a mouth-watering accompaniment to grilled meat, fish or chicken, and is the indispensable ingredient on cap cay (pronounced ‘chap chay’), a vegetarian option with steamed sprouts, vegetables, and tofu.
Our chef, Ketut, above, has been with us since Day One (we opened in June 2011). I’d be lost without her. Ketut's satay sauce is for me, a food group in its own right.
She makes the most delicious satay sauce, grinding everything by hand in a huge stone mortar and pestle called a ulukan. The black volcanic stone is sealed by the coconut oils and the mortar sits comfortably within her hand so that she can give it the full force of her formidable strength!
East Bali has its own distinctive cuisine, rich in seafood - the dense white meat of the mahi mahi is perfect for grilling and curries - as well as corn, which grows as a staple in the east of the island.