One of my favourite things about travelling is trying different cuisines from around the world. And I’ve found, over the years, that some of the best meals I’ve had abroad have been ones I’ve made myself. Andrew and I are trying to book them on every holiday we go on and so far we’ve made tagine in Marrakesh and spring rolls in Vietnam. It was a must do to book a cooking class in Indonesia and we booked Lobong Culinary Experience after reading some fab reviews on Trip Advisor.
A trip to the market
The class is pretty much a full day and starts with being given a tour of the local market. Bit of a warning on this one it’s not for the faint hearted. Let’s just say that the hygiene standards aren’t quite the same as the U.K. Meat sits out on the counter, no refrigeration, with flies buzzing around and there are dogs and cats roaming freely around. It all smells pretty pungent.
We got a great lesson from our teacher on what ingredients make the base of most dishes in Bali and were asked some pretty difficult questions about spices! Turmeric, ginger and chilli were just some of the delicious smells masking the raw meat. We also looked at different kinds of rice and vegetables.
Learning the ropes
After the market, we were driven to the cooking class, which is hosted in a family house. We were told all about traditional Bali family homes, which are actually a series of different buildings hosting all members of the extended family. The architecture is just beautiful and each family home also has a temple (more on that later).
We started the cooking by getting our rice on to steam because it takes several hours to get it just right. Alongside the rice, we chopped loads of vegetables – peppers, shallots, garlic and chilli – and (for those without a nut allergy) ground peanuts into a delicious smelling paste.
From there, we cooked chicken, made sauces, kept checking on the rice and whipped up a blood salad that thankfully didn’t actually have any blood in for us sensitive westerners!
We were cooking for a couple of hours, but the time flew by and it didn’t seem like long before we got to sample some of what we had made. But first, we had to follow Bali tradition and honour the gods.
Making an offering
It is traditional in Bali – a predominantly Hindu island – to offer the first bit of whatever you’re eating to the gods. So before we could tuck in, we donned sarongs and paid a visit to the shrines in the home. This sacred area is set slightly aside and above the rest of the houses and has a number of shrines to different gods. We watched as the family’s matriarch offered a small amount of our meal, reciting prayers as she went.
Tasting our creations
And then it was finally time to eat! While we had been making our offerings, the cooking team had been presenting our food beautifully and we were happy to get tucked in.
Our starter was spicy chicken salad.
Our main was chicken sambal with rice.
Our dessert was sticky black rice pudding and I forgot to take a picture because I’m an idiot, but my god it was delicious! Basically just rice, coconut milk and a whole load of palm sugar.
The cooking class and a drink with our meal cost us just under 1 million rupiah (around £57), which definitely made it the most expensive meal of the trip! But also one of the most delicious. I would highly recommend the cooking class if you’ve got the time and the budget and I can’t wait to book another one for our next holiday.
Have you ever been on a cooking class?
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