Every detail of daily life in Bali is marked by intricate artistry, and the culinary realm is certainly no exception. As the largest archipelago on Earth, Indonesia is made up of 6,000 inhabited islands and over 300 ethnic groups, contributing to a cuisine of diverse cultural influence and intense flavours. During one of those cooking classes in Bali, you are likely to find yourself in a rustically charming semi-outdoor kitchen, overlooking terraced rice paddies and nearly drunk with bliss at the wafting aromas, simmered in the traditional way.
Many cooking classes in Bali will also involve a trip to the markets with a local, opening up a whole new world of previously unknown spices, fruits, and vegetables. Creatively inspired by a culture that brings art into all it does, you will experience cooking with fragrant seeds, roots, and vegetables all enriched by germination in mineral-infused volcanic soils.
There are of course a multitude of options and we have selected some of the best to bring out your inner chef, as well as take breaths away when you return home and host your first dinner party with your newly discovered skills!
Cooking Classes in Bali
#1 Paon Cooking School
The kitchen of Balinese chefs Wayan Subawa and Ni Luh Made Puspawati overlooks a deep and mysterious ravine in the hills of Laplapan on the outskirts of Ubud. A lovely couple, they run the Paon Bali Cooking Class from their traditional Balinese compound and invite you to experience a true “farm to table” experience.
You will visit the Ubud food markets with their insider knowledge, immerse yourself in the village life of Laplapan, experience the cycles of the rice paddy (including planting, separation, and harvesting), and even learn how to make a simple offering.
In their unique “kitchen-garden”, and with an endearing family style approach, “Auntie Puspa” will lead you through authentic coconut-oil processing and the preparing of a multi-course meal with locally grown and sourced ingredients, including dishes like clear mushroom soup, chicken satay, coconut curry, snake bean salad, steamed fish in banana leaf, and deep fried tempeh. Morning (including the market tour) and afternoon classes are available. Book here.
#2 Green Kitchen and Organic Farm
A fertile and vibrantly green land of terraced rice paddies and lush jungle surrounded by sheltering mountains, the village of Sideman is an enchanting window into traditional Balinese life. A cooking class at Green Kitchen is more than a class, it is a true experience.
Beginning at the energetic KlungKlung market, your guide will show you an array of roots, spices, natural soap berries, and other wonders you may never have heard of. Next, you will visit the family compound and learn about the spiritual balance Balinese people so beautifully embody in daily life. In preparation for the class, you will pick your own veggies from Green Kitchen’s organic farm nestled in the rice paddies. The kitchen sits in a magical space that feels like a window in time of thatched roofs, brick stoves, burning fires, and the distant sounds of Gamelan in the air.
After a relaxing break of pandana leaf infused tea, you will get to work, learning about foundational spices and cooking in the traditional way over a wood fire bounding with smiling faces and delectable aromas. Everything is charmingly traditional and you will even make an offering before eating. You will brew coconut milk with a grater of spiked tree bark and a woven pandana leaf strainer, and grind spices in a large stone with a deep crater that spans four generations.
Your Balinese chefs are conscious of the way energy travels into food and encourage you to enjoy everything you do, even making music as you pound spices! The grinding stone is a true marvel and when asked how it was made in traditional times, the chef might smile and with a wink say, “maybe magic”, and he could very well be right. The entire experience is magic, leaving you enriched with recipes new skills and a deep appreciation of Balinese cultural and spiritual life. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are on offer, with dishes like peanut gado gado, tempeh curry, raw and spicy sambal, fish satay, and black rice pudding. Book your Green Kitchen Cooking Class here
#3 Casa Luna
For a deep immersion into understanding Balinese culture through culinary myth and cooking, enrol in the Casa Luna Cooking School. The school offers an array of varied possibilities to suit your unique culinary appetite! You might be a coffee connoisseur and embark on an adventure to the Kintamani highlands to learn about the history and roasting process, followed by lunch overlooking the extraordinary expanse of Mount Batur and the surrounding lake. Or perhaps you are called to a ‘vegetarian food as medicine’ class, where you will learn about the healing properties of spices. Each day of the week offers a different menu with market excursions, and options so alluring it is hard to choose just one!
Dishes on offer include spiced fish in banana leaves, fern salad, and green coconut crepes. You might also opt for one of their gourmet food tours where you will visit a bustling market at dusk followed by an open-air feast of braised chicken, marinated satay, spicy greens, and grilled seafood. Perhaps a trek to the East for the caramel flavoured palm sugar and sea salt, or the magical “Sunday twilight smoked duck class”. The only challenge is making a choice! Book here.
#4 Anika Balinese Cooking Class, in Kuta
If you are staying in the Southern part of Bali, this is the cooking class for you. First you will visit a traditional Balinese market in Kuta, where you will have the opportunity to learn about Balinese spices and herbs, as well as learning about the intricacy of Balinese cultural life. Next you will savour traditional breakfast dishes, likely to be deliciously different to the breakfast you are used to!
Before you begin the practical component of your experience, your instructor will lead you through a journey of appreciating Balinese spices in their array of uses, both medicinal and culinary. With this knowledge under your belt, you will employ traditional tools to prepare an impressive nine main dishes and one dessert, including satay, grilled fish, curries, and black rice pudding .
Of course, the reward of enjoying the exquisite dishes you have prepared awaits you at then end. Options include morning and evening classes, a two-day morning package, and even a group cooking class that can accommodate up to 300 participants. Book your Cooking Class and Morning Food Tour, in Kuta, here.
#5 Bali Asli Cooking Class
Nestled in the hills of Amlapurua, Karangasem, East Bali, Bali Asli Cooking School is rustic, charming, and also deeply inspiring with it’s panoramic views of Mt. Agung. The school is unique in that it is operated by a Western woman. Penny, who runs Bali Asli restaurant, is deeply attuned to Balinese ways, while simultaneously enriched by her culinary training with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay of London.
Your day will begin with 2 and a half hour village trek crossing rivers and passing village temples in a area once revered as a Royal Kingdom. With Mount Agung poised majestically beside you, you will trek to a sacred Balinese Temple where a priest shall bless you with holy water. The hike is truly a spiritual journey through ancient, misted pandan forests and native orchards dotted with vanilla vines and lemongrass. The end result is a breathtaking view of Karangasem valley stretching out to the sea, and Mount Agung’s volcanic peak. Along the way you will sample traditional treats such as jackfruit and rice dumplings wrapped in banana leaf, coconut water in a banana leaf cup, and fragrantly fermented nectar from the fruits of the Tuak tree.
Locally grown coffee awaits you in a Balinese home and indeed, the entire experience is an immersion in Balinese culture, tropical fruit trees, and the culinary and medicinal plants of this fertile valley. You will wonder if you have truly entered a window in time as you wander the village, for they even still have wood pigeon couriers! Penny compliments Balinese cooking techniques with her professional background, teaching about the subtleties and layers of flavour in sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and bringing a whole new level of appreciation to how different spices tickle the palate. Eating with the seasons from local produce, you will create and devour dishes like chicken satay on lemongrass skewers with freshly grounded peanut sauce, bbq fish fillet in banana leaf parcel, fern tips with grated coconut and red beans, spiced tofu banana leaf parcel, and of course, the famous Nasi goreng.
Penny also shares some unique cooking tips such as how to effectively crack an egg and useful banana leaf wrapping techniques. Bali Asli is an inspiring example of a healthy co- dependence where the locals are engaged and respected for their culture….a beautiful combination! Book your culinary hiking and adventure tour here!
Cooking classes in Bali are an immersion into something much deeper than your taste buds.
You are likely to emerge with an understanding of the simplicity of happiness, as well as skills to not only to create nourishing and colourful meals, but also to cultivate a nourishing and creative spiritual life in your own world. Food truly is medicine, and when prepared with love and appreciation, straight from the garden, and in season, you will be amazed at how your body will react in gratitude! Whichever class you choose depending on your personal needs and tastes, you can be sure to renew your delicacy for life and dazzle your friends at your next dinner party!