Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Vegetarianism in Bali

Tempeh (wrapped in banana leaves) and Tofu as it is sold in Balinese grocery stores. 

It is quite easy travelling through Bali and most of Indonesia as a vegetarian or vegan.  Most restaurants are smaller, informal eateries (called a warung), and they have a selection of local and international vegetable-based dishes.

Tempeh Indonesia is the land of tempeh, which is a high protein soy bean cake and is a saviour to vegetarians and vegans. Tempeh is fermented and has a slight cheesy taste, which isn’t for everyone, but when in need for a high protein boost after some trekking, this could be your answer.
Tofu Balinese tofu is one of the nastiest things you will ever eat in your life.  No joke, it tastes like the smell of a barnyard.  Some of our expat friends claim that it is fermented, while others say that it has a preservative similar to formaldehyde which prolongs its shelf life.  In any case, if you wish to try tofu in Bali, seek out an organic restaurant where the tofu is made on site.  Other parts of Indonesia seem to have excellent tofu,  so why Balinese tofu is so different?  Stay away.
Vegetable dishes and Nasi Campur There is a multitude of other vegetarian and vegan vegetable based dishes,  such as corn fritters, jackfruit curry, vegetable curry, sautéed spinach and mun beans to name a few.  The best way, and often the cheapest way to sample these dishes is by ordering a nasi campur (pronounced champoor) which is an assortment of dishes served with rice.   This is usually quite inexpensive and can range from 30 cents to 4 dollars, depending on where you buy your food.
International cuisine Although there are plenty of vegetarian options in Indonesia, In our honest opinion, the food is not that interesting. It is most often lacking in flavour and most dishes are often deep fried, which can cause a heaviness in the stomach.  In major tourist centres there are a multitude of international restaurants catering to everyone’s taste, which is great because eating tempeh every day, like anything, can be very uninteresting.
Fruit! A great alternative to eating unhealthy nasi campur is eating fresh fruit salads, and drinking fresh fruit juice, which is available everywhere!  This is much more delicious, and healthy.  A helpful tip is to ask to see the fruit first before ordering, as under ripened fruit is often served.  We often wonder if Balinese people eat fruit regularly, since the fruit that is served in restaurants is very poor quality.  More on this later.

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