As the Balinese farmers prepare the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, many restaurants integrate the Balinese ceremonial approach to food and life. While preparing the food, the Balinese pray and bless the food in a loving, devotional offering, an integral part of Balinese Hinduism. This really takes the level of foodgasms to an entirely new level and you will find your body savoring every bite of the love infused meals presented to you, never wanting it to end! Ubud is most travelers’ favorite places to go and experience the food revolution taking place in Bali, also known as the ‘culinary capital of Bali’. Check out a list of the top Ubud healthy restaurants here [link]
While Bali is home to more tropical fruits than you could eat in your lifetime, here are a few local must-have foods whilst visiting Bali:
This prickly looking green fruit tastes like a Capri Sun! Yep, the fruity American packaged drink from your childhood actually took its inspiration from this Southeast Asian favorite. Except Sirzak is a vitamin C powerhouse with a LOT less sugar, that is said to even cure cancer! The fruit has a velvety texture when ripe and it makes a delicious juice. This is the most common way you’ll find it prepared and on menus in Bali, and we recommend it as a delicious mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Jackfruit - young and ripe
Jackfruit is a massive fruit that grow on trees all over the Bali. They’re pretty big so easy to spot, you’ll see jackfruit hanging on trees on the side of the road and in Balinese housing compounds. Young jackfruit is used in Bali as a meat replacement in vegetarian dishes, stews, curries, and commonly found in Nasi Campur - meaning mixed rice. When cooked, jackfruit has an incredible meaty texture, with a mild flavor so a firm favorite for veggies and vegans.
When ripe, it is a bright yellow bulb with a big seed inside. It is called the “bubblegum” fruit, and the catch phrase doesn’t lie! It’s a delicious, hearty bit of strawberry, banana, orange, bubble-gummy deliciousness. The fruits often drop on the ground and serve as food for chickens and dogs, and you’ll know you’ve come across a few if you smell something slightly sour (rotting jackfruit) coming from a large, ugly spiked mass on the ground. Don’t let this deter you…it’s actually delicious.
You’ve probably tried papaya elsewhere, but it bears mentioning to make sure you have tried Bali papaya. It is unlike any other, naturally sweet and delicious and a great naturally medicine for delicate stomachs suffering from travel and atmospheric changes.
Dragon Fruit -
Known as pitaya in many places, Dragon fruit in Bali is bright PINK. And a delicious, fibrous snack. It looks like, well a dragon as the outside looks like bright pink feathers or spikes. A favorite snack for many locals is to simply slice the dragon fruit it in half, take a spoon, and dig in! It also pairs as a great natural lip stain.
Beware of the Noni. While it touts incredible health benefits, it tastes like a mixture between dirty socks and parmesan cheese. Several of the local juice warungs can make you a noni juice blended with young coconut water, and will cheer you on as you take on the challenge of drinking it.
It is said to be one of the most powerful anti-aging, anti-cancerous fruit on the planet! It has a very distinct smell - similar to the taste - and looks a bit like an alien... In fact many locals in Bali don’t care for it, and you may spot (or smell) it laying on the ground if you’re trekking through more overgrown areas. Try it if you’re brave enough and you can be the true judge of the noni fruit!
Similar to papaya, while you have probably had Mango elsewhere, you haven’t truly had Mango until you’ve had it in Bali! If you’re a real fruit lover, be sure and go to Bali during the mango season (December - May). They’re so fresh and organic that you can taste the differences in the soils they’re grown in depending on where you’re at in the island. It’s a healthy dessert, great for your skin that can be enjoyed any time of day!
Jamu is a traditional Balinese medicinal drink made up of freshly juiced Turmeric root, lemon or lime, young coconut water, and if requested, honey. It is an incredible anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial (people will often drink Jamu instead of taking antibiotic medication), tonic. Its smoky flavor does take some getting used to, but when you notice how amazing it makes you feel, you’ll find yourself wandering into local cafe’s in search of the bright orange glass jamu bottles!
Salak - snake fruit -
Snake fruit is a small, pod like fruit that is covered in brown scaly looking skin that looks like, well, a snake. Inside are little cloves that resemble garlic and have a delicious, tart sweetness to them. A very filling fruit that is a great remedy if you’re having a loose ‘Bali belly’ moment!
Passionfruit is a little round fruit that resembles an orange on the outside, but when you break open with your fingers, find loads of small little jelly covered seeds. It’s a fruit that you slurp out and has a tangy flavor that becomes incredibly addictive!
Green papaya leaf shot -
If you unfortunately find yourself hit with dengue fever, which can happen in Bali, find a local juice shop and ask for a green papaya leaf shot. It is a bit of a choke back to take, but it’ll get you feeling better in no time! The closest ‘cure’ to revitalize your body are pump you full of vitamins if you are wiped out with dengue fever.
There are so many incredible healing herbs and teas available in Bali. Be sure and have a cup of fresh lemongrass and ginger tea from a local warung with your meal and enjoy the flavor burst you get! Foods are often massaged and spiced with herbs and roots that not only taste amazing, but are incredibly healing for your body.
Moringa leaf is becoming more popular around the world as a next level superfood, but you’ll find it growing on the side of the street in Bali! It is often made into teas, juices and used in salads and Nasi Campur dishes. It is a semi sweet leaf and a complete protein, packed with calcium, iron, and the essential vitamins, moringa is a great detox support superfood.
Coconut sugar -
Coconuts aren’t just great for drinking, they’re great for sweetening as well! Coconut sugar is an incredible refined sugar replacement used in many places in Bali. It has a maple like taste and is much easier on your body to digest. It can be found in most restaurants to add to your teas and coffee, just ask!
They’re everywhere. Young green coconuts are one of nature’s greatest gifts. Young coconut water can be used as blood plasma replacement, and is one of the most hydrating liquids for your body. They are great post yoga class, when you’re on the beach in the hot sun all day, after trekking through the jungles, or just because!
In addition to being able to replace blood plasma, coconuts are incredibly soothing for the body and carry loads of magnesium (essential for when in the tropics!), B vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and all of the vital nutrients our bodies get depleted of when sweating. Try drinking one a day while in Bali and see how you feel!
The raw cacao fruit can be found at local produce markets and you can also find delicious raw chocolates in shops and cafes around Bali. They are bliss and often made with coconut sugar, so they are a guilt free and natural dessert! Cacao is a great source of magnesium, iron, and incredibly high in antioxidants. It also supports your body in producing the feel good chemicals like serotonin! Not that you need any extra help feeling good while in island paradise, but hey, why not feel extra good? Be sure and stock up while you’re in town!
You’ll often find tamarind in tea & spices in Bali, it has a tangy, sweet flavor that makes a great base for sauces and adds a unique flavor into drinks and dishes. It has long been used medicinally to treat upset stomachs and fevers, and you may occasionally find it in your Jamu!
Mangosteens are somewhat of a cult favorite in Bali. The little jelly cloves inside the purple shell taste somewhat like a lychee fruit with a bit of a kick at the end. You will find these little fruits in most markets in Bali and in many vendor carts lining the more urban streets. Mangosteen is believed to be a powerful cancer healer and also fights inflammation in the body.
Vegan cakes -
Bali might be one of the only places that you can go and eat cake for your health! They are often made with coconut flours, sugars, raw cacao and fruits that provide so much goodness to your body, there is no way you can feel guilty about that, so go on treat yourself!
Organic food markets in Bali
While this is a pretty comprehensive list of what food Bali has to offer, there is so much more magic in the way of food for you to discover while you visit Bali. Alongside the return to traditional roots, a wider variety of healthy organic food is flowing into Indonesia's local markets and new health food restaurants are opening as a result of this healthy ‘eat clean’ wave, especially in Bali and Jakarta.
Be sure to check out these Bali healthy food markets to find all of the above, and plenty of dried herbs, supplements, and healing tonics that are often hard to find anywhere else!
Bali Buda - several locations around the island (Ubud, Sanur and Uluwatu)
Down to Earth Market – in Ubud and Seminyak.
Sari Organik - a local Ubud market
If you see a fruit or vegetable lying around at a market in Bali that looks a little questionable on the outside, chances are it tastes delicious when cracked open. Just ask a local person how to eat it, and dive right in, on a food adventure wilder and more delicious than your taste buds could have ever dreamed of!
Whether you want to detox in Bali on an endless supply of fresh juices and made from locally grown, organic produce... or sit in the rice fields eating roasted duck and local Nasi Campur, or even take a cooking course to learn about Balinese cuisine. Overall Bali is a foodie’s heaven and has a way of making you fall in love with food in a way you never knew possible.