Some of these most bizarre foods and drinks in Bali are side dishes that accompany meals served daily at local restaurants throughout the island. Others can be a bit rare and harder to find, but which you may stumble upon on your travels to the more rural areas. Most of these strange and weird foods are local favourites. Even adventurous visitors may find some unusual tastes to their liking.

    There’s a fruit salad that locals crave but which you may find awkward due to it being served in chillies and fish broth. There’s an ingredient that’s toxic but adds great aroma to stews when cooked! If you’re game, here’s for a different kind of culinary adventure in Bali.


    Lawar – raw pork and blood salad

    Lawar is the traditional salad mix that mostly accompanies any kind of rice dish in Bali, be it nasi babi guling or nasi campur mixed rice. There are 2 types of lawar, based on the ingredients. Lawar putih (white lawar) is less bizarre and comprises shredded coconut, young jackfruit slices, string beans and spices.

    On the other side of the spectrum is lawar merah (red lawar) which has red, raw sliced meat and pig’s blood tossed in. Dare to try the latter? It’s commonly found at any warung or local restaurant serving babi guling roast pork.

    photo by ちちゃ (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Rujak kuah pindang – spicy fruit salad in tuna broth

    Rujak is a traditional fruit salad with a twist – it’s extremely spicy thanks to the added chillies. Foreigners are often bewildered at why locals love their sweet-tasting fruits served like so. Different versions include local tropical fruits such as young mangos, starfruit, young papaya, jicama, and so on, often sliced with a serrated knife, then doused in a dressing of liquefied shrimp paste, salt and chillies.

    You may come across the ‘dry’ version throughout Southeast Asian countries, with only shrimp paste and salt. In Bali, they often order theirs with kuah pindang tuna broth added!

    photo by Okkisafire (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Bulung – seaweed salad

    Bulung is a treat that's commonly known among the coastal Balinese communities, particularly around the island’s south. Seaweed – or bulung in the local tongue – comes in 2 varieties: the common stringy carrageenan seaweed and the bulbous boni type.

    Salads for both options are served in the same manner, with the same kuah pindang chilli and tuna broth as rujak spiced fruit salad, and topped with grilled and grated coconut and fried nuts.

    Location: Bali

    photo by Okkisafire (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Urutan – pig intestine sausages

    Urutan is a common Balinese rice dish accompaniment that's basically Bali's version of blood sausages. Some Europeans and Americans may be accustomed to sausage skins filled with blood and cooked or dried and mixed with a filler until they congeal.

    Bali’s urutan is another by-product of babi guling and, in its raw form, the looks will certainly lower your appetite. But when sliced, fried, and served, it’s truly tasty and well worth a try.

    photo by ayustety (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Keluak – pangium edule 'football fruit'

    Keluak is a fruit that's indispensable in several Southeast Asian dishes. Raw and ripe keluak fruit and its seeds contain hydrogen cyanide – highly toxic if consumed uncooked.

    When they are processed through boiling or roasted in hot ash, neutralising the harmful chemicals, keluak gives off a wonderful flavour and aroma to soups, such as rawon veal or beef stews.

    photo by Brunk-Tan (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Kakul – freshwater snails

    Kakul are snails widely found in Bali's rice fields and are a valuable source of protein for agrarian communities on the island. The favoured types are the darker to black ones, as they have a tastier and more delightful texture compared to the yellow types.

    The snails are gathered from the mud, shells cracked open, then washed. They are then boiled before cooked into soups, salads or prepared on skewers to be grilled as satays, together with a blend of Balinese spices.


    Lindung – freshwater eel

    Lindung or freshwater eel is easily found in rice fields in Bali and are a popular source of protein among rural Balinese communities.

    Catching eels using strings and hooks is a favourite pastime among Balinese kids in the countryside, and they take their fresh catches home for their mothers to prepare and cook, together with an aromatic blend of garlic and galangal. The eels are also usually dried before being fried with a batter into a crispy snack.


    Loloh – Balinese herbal drink

    The Balinese make herbal drinks from various types of leaves and fruits, much like jamu from the neighbouring island of Java. They refer to any liquid mixture or traditionally-prepared herbal tonic as loloh. Often, loloh is taken to maintain general good health and the ingredients are known for their medical benefits.

    Some of the most commonly used are tibah or morinda fruit, hibiscus flower, don kayumanis or leaves of the star gooseberry tree, with other herbs and spices such as salt, roast shallots, ginger and turmeric to taste.


    Ancruk – sago worms

    In some rural areas of Bali, kids dig under wilted banana trunks to find these ugly, thumb-sized larvae that locals call ancruk. They consider these a high-protein snack. After being thoroughly washed and cleaned, these gummy morsels are then roasted or fried with spices to taste.

    photo by Luigi Barraco (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Keripik usus ayam – crackling chicken intestines

    Usually, entrails are thrown out in western cooking but usus ayam or chicken intestines are saved for a popular deep-fried Indonesian delicacy. You can find these sold at most local restaurants in Bali.

    Thoroughly washed then basted in turmeric (a natural disinfectant), and then sometimes rolled in tapioca flour batter, the short or flat-cut intestines are then thrown into hot oil until crisp. They look more appealing when cooked, and actually taste great too. There are also skewered versions, boiled then prepared in the manner of satays, as well.

    photo by Midori (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Clengis – steamed coconut oil sediment

    Clengis, or tlengis depending on which part of Bali you come from, is a byproduct of traditional coconut oil processing. The remaining foam and residue that rises above boiling coconut milk is sifted away to be coal-roasted alone in banana wraps. The result is a white, mildly sweet and soft-textured condiment that nicely accompanies rice dishes. The flavour of clengis? It's somewhat like a cross between melted cheese and shiitake mushrooms.


    Srombotan – spicy raw vegetable salad

    Srombotan is a local raw (or partly-cooked) vegetable salad mix, originally from Bali’s regency of Klungkung. The main components include partly-steamed fern leaves, winged bean seeds, bean sprouts and cabbage.

    It is then topped with a very spicy kalas sauce made of coconut milk blended with turmeric, chillies, galangal, shallots, garlic, coriander and a little bit of sand ginger. Srombotan is certainly a must-try on your visits to East Bali – if you can handle really spicy dishes!


    Lawar nyawan - bee larvae salad

    A lawar (Balinese salad) mix to look out for, though rather hard to find, is lawar nyawan. It uses bee larvae and their honeycombs as the main ingredient. Sometimes the honeycomb is left intact, with some of the larvae oozing out during the cooking process, together with the common blend of vegetable and spices that make up the usual lawar mix.

    The dish is as rare as the harvesting of beehives, so it’s one of the hardest to find among the list of unusual food to try in Bali. Even so, the textures and flavours of burnt honey with Balinese spices is something really exceptional and definitely worth a try, if you get the chance.

    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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