Today I had heaps of fun doing a cooking class with local lady Alit. She has been teaching cooking classes for over a decade and has a deft hand with the cutting knife and an endearing sense of humour.
The class started with a guided tour through the local market, where we spotted lots of weird and wonderful things, including a basket of squirming eels. Every morning the market comes alive at around 4am as all the local women come to collect their supplies for the day; fresh flowers, vegetables, spices and fruit. Thankfully we didn’t have to get there that early though!
Our menu for the day:
• Balinese chicken soup
• Satay (ground chicken mixed with sauce and coconut then moulded onto bamboo sticks)
• Corn fritters
• Tempe manis (deep fried soya beans with a sweet soya sauce)
• Nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables, chicken and egg)
• Black rice pudding
Joining me for the class were Oliver and Irma, a couple from Slovenia, and Shelley from England, who teaches in Shanghai – a very international bunch of Master Chefs! We were each given an apron and cutting board and set to task chopping shallots, garlic and turmeric. The shallots were dunked into hot oil to turn them golden brown and crispy.
The black rice was put on to cook, with some cinnamon and palm sugar. Then we made the ‘secret sauce’ – garlic, galangga (similar to ginger but more potent) ginger, chilies, turmeric, shrimp paste, candle nut – all ground up with a mortar and pestle, then added to the hot wok with some oil and cooked down for a few minutes. This sauce was then added to pretty much everything that we made, Alit said you can keep it in the fridge or freezer once you make up a batch. It sure smelled amazing.
“How long now until we eat Alit? One hour.”
Next up we made the chicken satay, in went some Balinese sauce, grated coconut, palm sugar, lime juice and salt and pepper. As well as twisting the chicken onto the skewers, Irma skilfully hand rolled some chicken balls, to be added to our soup.
“How long now until we eat Alit? Two hours”
We fried up the tempe with some chillies, tomato, celery leaf, onion, and a range of different sauces. The soup contained, you guessed it, some secret sauce, and lastly we made a big batch of nasi goreng.
“How long now until we eat Alit? Four hours. Ha ha ha”
After all our hard work we had definitely worked up an appetite. The moans of appreciation as we tucked into our food were a sure sign that we had cooked up a storm, with Oliver declaring it the best meal he had eaten so far in Bali.
You can find Alit’s Warung just off Monkey Forest Road on Beji Lane.