Bumbu Bali

March 22, 2010

While in Bali for a few weeks in January this year, I took a great cooking class offered by one of the local restaurants in Ubud. Early that morning, we went to the market to purchase ingredients for the dishes we were going to make. It was one of the most fruitful days I spent while traveling on my own. It’s so different learning about local dishes from a local chef.


Balinese cooking is very different from general Indonesian cooking. Balinese food tends to be either very spicy or very sweet. Many Balinese have one spice mixture called base gede or bumbu bali that they prepare in a large quantity and use in their everyday cooking. We spent half of the morning making bumbu bali and used it for every dish we made throughout the rest of the day. It’s like all-spice, Balinese style.  I’m sharing it below (JS, this one is especially for you, in return for the chili fish recipe that you cooked up after our trip through China):


  • 25 shallots or onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 7 large red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cm galangal root (substitute: ginger), peeled and chopped
  • 10 cm fresh tumeric, peeled and chopped OR 2 tbsp powdered tumeric
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 kemiri/candlenuts (substitute: ground almonds), chopped
  • 2 tspn dried shrimp paste
  • 1/2 tspn black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg (or powder)
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1/2 tspn sesame seed


Using a blender, mix all of the above ingredients except the oil.  Add a half portion of water into the blender to create spice mix.  Heat the oil in a wok or heavy pan, add the blended spice mix and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes until the mix turns golden.  Cool before using.  Can be frozen.

Use this mix and add to meat or vegetables.  For meat, 25% of the dish should consist of the mix.  For vegetables, add a bit at a time to suit your taste.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the recipe for Sambal Udang (hot sauce prawn), which uses bumbu bali as the main spicing ingredient.  =)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Justin December 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Hey Denise, I stumbled upon your post while doing some research for one of my own: Balinese cooking. I too took the class at Bumi Bali last week, and was so inspired the basa gede that I had to post it. I see from your about page that you have roots in the Philippines—that’s where we’re off to after Bali 😉


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