Wednesday, February 16, 2011

'Learning Lunch' with Paon Bali, Ubud

After much research, it came to be that the most popular Balinese cooking class, courtesy of trip advisor was Paon Bali. With fantastic reviews I decided not to bother with any more research and booked Jeff and I into a class.

Our day started at 8:15am with Wayan, the friendly husband of the duo, collecting us from our hotel. We then stopped at the Ubud market where we met with the rest of our class and Puspa and her assistant. We were led around the market and learnt about woven hats and steamers, which are not to be confused with each other, but which often are, by unassuming tourists. We learnt about the offering baskets, made by hand each day from banana leaves and bamboo sticks and filled with sweet things that a spirit may need. We tried some traditional Balinese cakes as well as many kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Palm sugar

Fresh garlic

Puspa teaches us about the 'offerings'

A skilled woman makes the offerings in the market

The colorful offerings are found everywhere in Bali

The flowers used for the offerings

Spices ready to take home

Fresh flowers and more offerings

Dense Balinese cakes

The fresh produce section of the market

Purple eggplant and bittermelon

Women selling their produce

Puspa warned us not to try everything!

Juicy rambuttans

Snakeskin fruit and oranges

Imported produce

The suckling pig

Jeff even tried the famous Balinese suckling pig and was impressed with its tenderness and tasty sauce. With an iron stomach, Jeff was as tough as a local eating the wares, although other foreigners may not be so lucky.
We took a stop at the village’s rice fields for a quick information lesson with Wayan. The particular rice paddies we were shown did not belong to Wayan’s family. His was being served a bid helping of fresh chicken poop and he did not want us to endure the stench. 

One of our hosts, Wayan 

A soaked rice paddi

We learnt that all of the paddies in this particular village were once organic, as the farmers did not know about chemicals until introduced to them by the greedy government who wanted to yield three crops a year instead of two. Now, after the bugs have formed a strong resistance, farmers are going back to old farming methods, with their crops almost being certified organic. Organic farming techniques must be employed for 5 years for a farm to be certified, and the village is well on their way almost into their fourth year.

We learnt that for a village to exist in Ubud it must contain at least three temples, two rice paddies and one holy banyan tree. Wayan is currently the assistant leader of his village, Laplapan, and he must settle disputes and offer advice. For example, if one family blocks the water supply to other fields, they may be punished and told to pay each family affected with a sum of money.

We were then driven a short distance to Wayan and Puspa’s family home in Laplapan. We were warmly welcomed with a tasty fresh lemon drink adorned with fresh frangipani’s and we learnt about the formation of a Balinese home.

The entrance

Puspa's assistants

At the front of the property, closest to the street entrance, is the alter. The Balinese believe that the spirits of their ancestors inhabit that place. Then to the east of the compound is the family temple or house where important ceremonies take place like a wedding or wake. To the west is the building which houses the ‘King and Queen’ or eldest members of the family. This is also the room where a newlywed couple will spend the first 24 hours locked in. The Balinese believe that without the forced, yet romantic ‘lock up’ a couples’ marriage is doomed. Wayan told a story to cement this belief. To the south is where other family members sleep, like the children. To the rear of the compound is the kitchen, beyond the kitchen the garden, then finally the animals at the rear.

After finishing our drinks we were invited to the rear of the compound, which used to be home to hundreds of ducks, but is now a purpose built outdoor cooking studio, complete with organic garden, outdoor stove and barbeque, gas burners and large dining tables.

Traditional outdoor stove

Puspa explains the colorful ingredients

The organic garden

Fresh coconut oil

Ingredients for the gado gado peanut sauce

Ingredients for clear mushroom soup

Making the 'basic sauce'

Hard work! Crushing and blending the spices
for the 'basic sauce'

The finished 'basic sauce'! or Bumbu Kuning

Delicious clear mushroom soup, or Sup Jamur

Rolling the tuna in the banana leaf

Pepis Ikan, stemed fish

Curry or Kare Vegetable

Snakebean and coconut salad, or Jukut Urab

Deep fried tempe in sweet soy sauce or Tempe Kering

Pepis Ikan

We were reintroduced to the spices and vegetables that we met at the market, and began slicing and dicing the ingredients to make our first dish ‘basic sauce’. I had the envious job of chopping the garlic. My hands took on the smell like a moth to the flame. We then proceeded to make many more dishes – satay, tempeh, bean and coconut salad, clear mushroom soup, steamed fish in banana leaves, gado gado as well as a delicious and creamy banana and jackfruit boiled in coconut dessert.

Banana and jackfruit desert or Kolak Pisang,
flavoured with a pandan leaf and
sweetened with palm sugar

Options were given for the vegetarian of the group (me) and to another student who had celiac disease.
We were served our delicious meals at a large table big enough for the entire group. The clearing and washing of dishes was done for us and it was just as well – as we were all very tired from creating, cooking and eating such delicious Balinese food!

The course cost 350,000IDR. There are cheaper cooking courses available, and everyone has an ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ who teaches a class, but Paon Bali is professional, friendly and holistic.

1 comment:

  1. Hello... Reached you via 'Paon-Bali' keyword!!! Attended this workshop sometime back :) Happy to connect with a foodie like you... See you sometime @ :)