Balinese Cooking Classes: Food, Fun and Culture

The Food Issue | Written By, Life on the Island |

Balinese cooking class is an experience of great satisfaction and self-gratification. The focus is not limited to the food only, but also the process and history behind it. You will be surprised to know that there’s so much history embedded within each meal you are about to cook. Each spice has a story, each herb has a fragrance, and when each of them is combined with meats and vegetables, they turn into a medley of culture and history. Each dish you create is a testament to the oral history of the cook.

So, why not try your hand at some local cooking, guided by experts of Balinese cuisine : 



This resort has its own organic spice and herb garden where you will be taken on an informative tour before the class. After spending a leisurely amount of time at the garden, you will then be escorted to the village style kitchen where the cooking class commences. The cook will teach you five simple but extremely tasty Balinese dishes. Some of the local condiments used in most dishes are inger, kerupuk, laos, lemon basil, lemongrass, lime, nutmeg, shallots, turmeric and soy sauce. It is the unique blend of these quite common spices which leads to a mouth-watering taste to the dishes. But there are also a few secret spices, like alam leaf, kencur and tamarind pulp which offers an inimitable taste.

The Balinese chefs also share their concepts for food and small cooking tips that will be very useful for your own preparations. The cooking class at Maya Ubud is both fun and informative. The most gratifying part of the class comes at the end where you can finally enjoy the lunch you have just prepared. You will also receive an email of the recipes that you have prepared.

Maya Ubud Resort
Jalan Gunung Sari Peliatan, Ubud
+62 361 977888



Aiming to discover the spiced flavours of Bali’s virtually unknown cuisine? The cooking class at Bumbu Bali offers a fascinating introduction into the exotic ingredients and specific culinary heritage of Bali. It provides a valuable insight into the mix techniques of food preparation and the cooking styles used in Bali.

Before the class starts, a small group of twelve people will be taken to the local markets to purchase the ingredients, including spices, red meat, chicken, and fresh seafood. This will be followed by a hearty Balinese breakfast at the restaurant. The participants will then spend a very informative morning in a specially designed kitchen, grinding a minimum of 20 spices, in small quantities though. Thatched roofed pavilions and the traditionally crafted village setup will give you the feeling of cooking in paradise. You will discover and feel the peacefulness of a harmonic Balinese home.

A lot of Balinese cooking revolves around tossing, stirring and steaming the dishes, which will be taught to you in five hours. Each enticing recipe prepared is accompanied by precise step-by-step instructions for easy reference. Your day will be filled with the bright flavours of lemon grass and kaffir lime, red chilies and the mild sweetness of garlic. The exquisite taste of coconut cream and the dark royal palm sugars in the dishes will take the cooking to a whole new level. Throughout the class, there are also pop-quizzes about handy cooking techniques.

After an enjoyable and informative 5 hours in the kitchen, as the final task, it is time to enjoy your own creation – the mouth-watering dishes that you have been preparing since the morning. A strong cup of hot Balinese coffee and some sweets will be offered to you during the lunch.

The classes are hosted by Heinz von Holzen, a Swiss born chef, Restaurant proprietor and author of five highly acclaimed cookbooks. With him, you will embark on the best Balinese culinary journey. There are three types of classes conducted, which are “Normal Class”, “Vegan Class”, and “Extra Day Class”, each consisting of six preparations. Please be advised that no talks of politics are allowed during the cooking process. It will ruin the taste.

Bumbu Bali
Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua
+62 361 774502



Here, at The Breezes Bali Resort & Spa, you’ll discover the exotic flavors of some of Bali’s lesser-known Cuisines. The class offers fascinating introduction to the exotic ingredients and unique culinary heritage of the island. You’ll also learn techniques and cooking styles found only on the island – a great souvenir to bring home!

Focusing on a special Balinese Yellow Spicy Paste to begin with, you use traditional methods (no blenders and processors here!) to bring all the elements together. From there, this special paste becomes the base of other dishes you can make: Jukut Ares (young banana stem soup), Pepes Be Pasih (grilled fish in banana leaves), Be Siap Base Genep (poached chicken in Balinese herbs), and the Balinese Nasi Goreng (fried rice). Sure, you’re thinking, “fried rice, that’s not special!” but trust us when we say that this fried rice made with rich herbs and spices is a different experience altogether. Another base paste you can learn to make is the Balinese Red Spicy Paste, used for dishes such as the delicious Sate Sapi Lalah Manis (beef satay).

The Breezes Bali Spa & Resort
Jalan Camplung Tanduk 66, Seminyak, Kuta
Badung Regency
+62 361 730573



Specialising in mainly Javanese and Balinese cuisine, the cooking class in Hotel Tugu introduces guests to ancient Indonesian gastronomy and indigenous cooking techniques. The outstanding hands-on kitchen experience allows you to learn about the exotic richness of old Indonesian culture, dining and cooking altogether.

You can choose up to 10 dishes from the menu, depending on your choice of Javanese and Balinese cuisine. Feel free to tell the culinary team of Hotel Tugu if you have any specific dish to learn, as they will be very happy to accommodate it. The class will start early in the morning at a nearby local market where you can buy your own spices, vegetables and meat. This is a unique experience, as you are introduced to the Indonesian day-to-day life where you are allowed to communicate and bargain with the local shopkeepers to buy all that is needed. You are then brought back to the hotel’s outdoor kitchen.

With a maximum capacity of 10 people, the class is led by IboeSoelastri, the Indonesian chef who began her culinary journey since the age of four. Amazingly, she has devoted her life as a chef to Hotel Tugu for decades and has cooked for the past 3 presidents of Indonesia. Therefore, without a doubt, she has pockets full of stories to share, not just limited to her cooking experiences but also about Indonesian culture.

The cooking is done in a very traditional way, using stone grinders to blend spices, woks, steamers, and wood-fired terracotta stoves to prepare the food. You will be introduced to the old tradition of Indonesian gastronomy, specifically the authentic Javanese and Balinese cuisines. You are then offered a tasty lunch of some of the chefs specialties and of course your own cooking.

Hotel Tugu Bali
Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu
+62 361 4731701



Located in Jimbaran Bay, side by side with the local fishing community in the area, cooking classes at InterContinental Bali Resort offers a unique opportunity to learn about famous Balinese Seafood dishes. The class starts with an early tour to the Kedonganan Fish Market, which is only a cosy 15-minute drive from the resort. With a minimum of 5 per class, the chef will guide you through the entire process of purchasing supplies for the class. One of the benefits during this part for the participants is to know how to select the fresh and good fish to cook, as there will be a lot of tips given for free. The small group is then taken to the nearby spice market to choose from an array of fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables and aromatic spices.

The cooking process begins around 12 noon in the open kitchen of Bella Cucina. This is a hands-on cooking class where you will be taught to cook four Balinese seafood dishes using the ingredients you purchased earlier. The selected and famous dishes are Crab Soup, Squid Lawar (a traditional Balinese salad), PepesUdang (steamed prawns wrapped in banana leaf), and Fish. All the dishes here are seafood centric, which is the uniqueness of this cooking class. At around 2PM you can relax in the opulent indoor dining room of Bella Cucina and sample your delicious preparations. You are also allowed to pack and/or take-away your lunch, in case you want to share it with your loved ones at home. A recipe book will be handed over at the end of the class for you to reference in the future.

InterContinental Bali Resort
Jalan Raya Uluwatu 45, Jimbaran, Badung Regency
+62 361 701888



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