Bali Nusa Dua: Bumbu Cooking Class and Cardamom Restaurant

This morning saw us waking up a little earlier then we really needed to.  Our cooking class started at 9am and we were up and awake by 7am.  We wondered down quite leisurely to breakfast and ate our fill.  I went pretty light on this morning as I knew we would get to eat a good meal for lunch as the result of our cooking class.  I stuck to an assortment of fruits and a piece of waffle (which I surrendered half of to Nick).

Nick had his customary couple of plates and we chatted briefly with my Aunt and Uncle who came down for breakfast a little after us and then made our way down to the cooking class which was an easy fifteen minute walk.

The classes are run by a popular restaurant here, Bumbu Bali.  The classes themselves though are held at a resort called Rumah Bali Bed & Breakfast.  We arrived to the resort exactly on time and were in fact, the first participants to arrive.  We were given name tags and sat at a large table in a pavilion to await the others. We were offered some drinks on welcome but I just had a water while Nick had a very thick coffee.  It was almost like a Turkish coffee in that the grounds were poured right into the cup.

Other people for the class arrived shortly with a couple from Perth (Chris and Amoreena), a couple from Amsterdam (Peter and Susan), a couple from the UK (Sean and Kavita), a couple from Japan (Michiyo and Miyoaka) and a couple from South Africa (Carel and Sheila) as well as a lone travelling girl (Rachelle).  All in all, there were 13 of us taking the class.

We met with our instructors (unfortunately I didn’t catch their names) and then we were thrown into the class.  The first half an hour was an introduction to the most common Balinese spices and how to use them correctly in recipes (take home message – if in doubt, bruise it thoroughly before throwing it in!).  Then we got to the good stuff.  The actual recipes.

We made a spice paste for beef and another one for vegetables (they make and sell a dry version of the pastes which is apparently the same recipe with the oil omitted). These were made en mass and instead of grinding them up with a mortar and pestle, we used a meat grinder they had set up for that purpose.  This was quite cool as both pastes smelled amazing. They would both come into play again later for other dishes.

We then started some black rice steaming for a dessert we would make muuuuch later, and got started on the very exciting Pork in Sweet Soy Sauce. The secret to most of these dishes was the use of a pressure cooker.  The instructors told us that using a pressure cooker trapped the flavours in the food.  If you can smell food cooking, you are letting the flavours escape.  If this is so, I am probably going to have to invest in a pressure cooker stat.  My kitchen is always filled with the aromas of whatever I am cooking.  How much tastier could my food be??!

The next dishes we made were sate (meat skewers) of chicken, pork and tempeh.  The meats and tempeh were marinated in a mix of the pastes we made earlier, palm sugar, chillies and salt and pepper.  We also made some seafood sate sticks which were made from minced white fish, fresh shaved coconut, coconut cream, seafood spice paste, chillies, kaffir lime leaves, salt pepper and palm sugar.  The mix was firm enough to shape onto lemongrass stalks which would impart even more flavour to the fish.

The next recipes we got to try were making things in banana leaves.  First up  was a grilled fish in banana leaf.  We saved a little of the seafood mince from the previous recipe for this one and added to it diced prawn.  Spoonfuls of mixture were scooped on the softened leaves (they softened them over flame to make them pliable so they wouldn’t crack when we folded them) then we added some salam leaves, tomato slices and a couple of sprigs of lemon basil (I didn’t know this existed and it is the most delicious thing I have encountered in ages) before rolling these up into packages. The packages we made were then taken away and steamed for us.

For a change of pace, we also prepared our desserts at this point which were pumpkin and coconut rice cakes in banana leaves and glutinous steamed black rice (which we had started steaming at the beginning of the class).  These were both divine and whilst I don’t think I know of any places in Australia I can get banana leaves, I will try my darnedest to find a substitute so I can make the pumpkin cakes!  The black rice was also amazing.

For the next couple of recipes, I stayed away as it was satay sauces and peanuts do not agree with me.  I wondered off to get some fresh, non-peanut-y air whilst Nick took this one for the team.

As per Nick, there are two kinds of satay sauce you commonly get served in Indonesia. Javanese style, which has coconut cream in the recipe and Balinese style, which has water instead of coconut cream and an assortment of other spices and lime juice.

The next dish was a peanut dressing for salads, I also stayed away from that one but the process was similar to the satay sauce and I won’t lie, I didn’t take much in for this one as I had zero interest in a peanut dish.

Unfortunately, the next dish was a creamy vegetable stew with fried tofu which I was excited about… until they threw in a bowl of peanuts. Boo. Another dish I wouldn’t be able to sample.

We then made a fried rice with noodle dish (Nasi Goreng Mawat) which was phenomenal. I have never really considered adding noodles to fried rice but I might start in the near future.

The very last dish we made was a frying batter for vegetables/meats/fruits, similar to Japanese tempura.  While I was very interested in the process and how they made it, I didn’t pay too much attention as I am pretty sure I won’t ever be making anything deep fried in my kitchen at home.  However, we got some lovely jackfruit and banana fritters from this recipe.

So 14 recipes all up.  Not too shabby! Though of course, the best part was getting to sit down with everyone and eat what we had made with our fellow travellers and instructors.  For me, the favourite was the sweet soy pork dish.

It was about 2:30pm by the time we were leaving the class and we walked to help us digest the delicious meal.  We decided to just take it easy once we got back to the hotel so we changed into our bathers and headed out to the pool.

We spotted Jade and Ken once we got there and hung out with them for a while before being invited back to Thoren and Sam’s massive villa where we would spend an enjoyable few hours.  By today, most everyone who was coming to the wedding had arrived so there was a fair group of people hanging out and having a good time.

The crowd eventually decided to make a move around 4:30pm.  The boys headed out to a club area a couple of hours away and the girls in the wedding party had scheduled a spray tan session.

After lazing around the main pool area again for a while, Nick and I headed out to do some shopping as required for the next day’s snorkelling trip (sorting out breakfast on the go, making sure we had enough cash, trying to find a rash vest for Nick etc) before having a relatively early dinner at Cardamon Bali.

This restaurant was a little more polished then the previous’ night’s effort and Nick and I ordered a honey soy tuna steak and a nasi campur (assorted curries and rice) respectively.  We got a complimentary appetiser plate of “chicken skin salad” to begin and also a welcome drink of mixed juices.  We also got a plate of seared vegetables to share with our mains. It was a very satisfying meal overall!

We topped this off with a traditional Balinese dessert of coconut pudding which had a side dish of mango “custard”.  I also got a scoop of coconut sorbet as I can’t go past anything coconut flavoured.

Yummy meal completed, we headed back to the hotel as we needed to be up at the crack of dawn (sadly, quite literally) to take off on our snorkelling adventure the next day.

Up next: Snorkelling Nusa Pendir and Cocktail Soiree

 

 

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