All about Jess + Bali + Health Retreats + Healthy Travel

Cooking in paradise: a healthy vegan demo at Alila

17 October 2015
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If you read my recent review of Alila Ubud, you know that I had an incredible experience at this gorgeous resort in the Bali jungle. But my favourite part of my stay deserved its own special post: a healthy vegan cooking demo. So much fun!


The demo was held in Alila’s own organic garden. We actually cooked in the garden for about 2 hours amongst Bali’s gorgeous scenery. That morning, we went to the local food markets – early – to source all the produce we would need.


It was incredible to witness how the local Balinese source their food. Not at all from a supermarket! The places we visited were more like small farmers markets.


As you can imagine, the ingredients were all local and organic – everything fresh from the earth and so close. I was so inspired by the value they place on organic produce. It was really impressive to see how healthy some of the Balinese dishes can be.


Back at Alila, we got to work with the chef to prepare several local Balinese delicacies and to learn about the connection between food and mind.


Indonesian jamu is part of an ancient Indonesian system that helps us to maintain good inner and outer health and beauty. I had never heard of this before! It includes natural herbal medicines, and it’s influenced by a number of other cultures (think India, China and Holland). Some of the most common herbs included in jamu perscriptions are ginger and cinnamon.


This was evidenced in our cooking – we used lots of turmeric, ginger, galangal and cinnamon, which are so therapeutic for the body. I was impressed by the Ayurvedic influence found in Balinese food. It’s truly healing!


I’m very excited to share with you two of the recipes that I created there:

Bumbu Bali 

A bumbu is a selection of spices and herbs made into a paste. This recipe is mostly used in Balinese cuisine. Every household has its own recipe, which can chance on a daily basis depending on what dish it is used for.


  • 20 grams chopped garlic
  • 30 grams chopped shallots
  • 10 grams crushed kencur root
  • 10 grams crushed ginger root
  • 10 grams crushed galangal
  • 10 grams turmeric
  • 5 grams good quality shrimp paste
  • 5 grams black pepper
  • 1 gram coriander seed
  • 1 gram candle nut
  • 1 piece large red chili
  • 2 pieces small chili

Combine all ingredients and grind until a smooth paste forms. Put a small pan over medium heat and add a little coconut oil. Add the paste and lightly saute for 2 minutes. Add 100 ml water and cook for another 5 minutes. Cool down and store in the fridge (keeps well up to two weeks).

Sayur Urap

A light and easy Balinese vegetable salad seen in most homes all year long. The slightly sweet and sour taste combined with the crunch of friend shallots makes it an excellent salad for whetting the appetite.


  • 20 grams grated coconut
  • 10 grams Bumbu Bali
  • 20 grams fried shallots
  • 10 grams friend garlic
  • 10 grams fried large chili
  • 5 grams roasted shrimp paste
  • 40 grams blanched cassava leaf
  • 40 grams blanched long beans
  • 20 grams blanched water spinach
  • 20 grams blanched fern tips
  • 20 grams blanched red beans
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Bali lime, to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Adjust flavour when necessary with salt, pepper and lime juice.





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