Madame Made Rosti of the Karangasem Street

Dining | Written By, NOW! BALI |

If you are ever wandering through the main street of Amlapura late in the afternoon, look out for a humble stall piled high with plates of food and a frail old woman standing in charge. Her humble stall is about two hundred metres south of the palace. Set in front of an old Chinese shop house, you will find Ibu Made Rosti, who has been doling out the same great food every day for an amazing 60 years. While it has not brought her great fame or fortune, a franchise, or even untold wealth it has brought her enormous respect and a standing in the community.

Text & Photo by Ayu Sekar

If you are ever wandering through the main street of Amlapura late in the afternoon, look out for a humble stall piled high with plates of food and a frail old woman standing in charge. Her humble stall is about two hundred metres south of the palace.

Set in front of an old Chinese shop house, you will find Ibu Made Rosti, who has been doling out the same great food every day for an amazing 60 years. While it has not brought her great fame or fortune, a franchise, or even untold wealth it has brought her enormous respect and a standing in the community.

She looked frailer than last time I saw her a year ago and dragging any information was akin to pulling teeth. When I asked her how long she had been there, she thought I was asking how old she is and her response was impressive. She was not about to divulge that to anybody!

She recognized me from a year ago, as I stood there camera in hand. Drawing her remaining feistiness together, she asked “dimana oleh oleh?” – a typical Indonesian expression meaning “where is my present?” When I told her it was in the shop, she managed a dignified little laugh but I told her the oleh oleh next time would be a copy of the magazine. She let it pass.

What she is serving is nasi campur (mixed rice) with traditional and typical Karangasem dishes. All her chicken is kampung (village) – no factory food here! Dishes include daun belimbing – starfruit leaves braised with subtle spices and green long beans – juicy and tender. Chicken comes in several guises – steamed, with or without a chilli sambal, a stew, a chicken curry and sate. Fried peanuts add crunch and a coconut sambal adds sweet texture. The sweet fried tempe (soy bean cake) is crisp and delicious, as is the chicken. The fresh fried mackerel in a sambal chilli sauce also looks good. This is a great way to try Balinese food and the other good thing is the price. For my very varied mix of foods, I happily paid ten thousand – a very good deal indeed.

Rice, of course is part of the package although not mandatory. All the bungkus (packets) come lined with a fresh cut banana leaf and wrapped in brown paper – no nasty Styrofoam here.

I wonder about this dear, strong woman and what her story is. It would be nice to find out more. Maybe when I take her a copy of the magazine, (will it be the first time?) she will unwind a little and reveal a little of her life to me. That is, if she is not too busy serving the long line of customers queuing up for her delicious food. One likes to think there is some kind of romantic background – a lost love, a secret passion? Or maybe she is just a woman who has had to fend for herself and she has done it with all the dignity one could muster. Whatever it is one’s heart just goes out to her.!

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