This week, we’ve been providing you with a virtual journey to one of the hippest and healthiest destinations we’ve ever ventured to, Bali’s Alila Hotels and Resorts. So far, we’ve given you the overview and firsthand insights into the luxurious Spa Alila and our cliff top Aerial Yoga experience. However, for a Hip & Healthy holiday to tick all of our boxes, another major factor is taken into account. The food.
Bali is renowned for its fresh tropical fruit, medicinal spices and herbal tinctures – a truly healing cuisine that I was excited to take full advantage of during my stay. To make the most out of the abundant array of plant-based goodness in Bali, I decided to embrace veganism during my time abroad.
With the option to eat in the privacy of my Villa or in the open-air restaurants at both locations, breakfast at Alila Villas Soori and Uluwatu were colourful, plentiful and to my great delight; choc-full of tropical fruit, sticky coconut rice (my favourite) and green smoothies galore. I immediately fell in love with the concept of Alila Villas Soori’s daily rotating ‘tasting-style’ breakfast menu at Cotta, featuring tasters of classic breakfast favourites enriched with Bali’s local fare. For both lunch and dinner I stuck to traditional Balinese cusine, enjoying a range of perfectly spiced vegetable dishes, soups, salads, fruit and of course; a whole lot of coconut!
During my stay at Alila Villas Soori, I was treated to a raw vegan degustation at one of their on-site restaurants, Ombak. Upon my arrival I feasted on the juiciest Pomelo salad; a mouth-watering combination of citrus and bitter greens complemented by sweet cherry tomatoes and locally grown micro herbs. My next course, a raw Fruit Tartar, was a creative food endeavour like none other I have ever had the pleasure of biting into; a perfectly placed combination of melon, avocado, pear, orange, radish and lime. What followed next was a Balinese take on our beloved Courgetti – a Zucchini Carpaccio bursting with the earthy sweetness of beetroot, spiralized alongside courgette, carrot and turnips and garnished with tomatoes, basil and olive oil. Last but not least dessert was served; a platter of thinly sliced pineapple adorned with lemon basil, coconut cream, coconut sugar and lime. I left my dinner feeling sweetly satisfied and completely convinced that when done well; simplicity always wins.
My next dining extravagance was experienced at Alila Villas Uluwatu during my Journey of Gastonomy – a half-day cooking class that introduced me to local ingredients, basic recipes and local cooking methods. On the day of my Alila Journey, I woke early to meet chef Eko Purjino who was to be my host and cooking teacher for the day. Our first port of call was the local produce market, a colourfully chaotic assortment of tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and all that’s in between. For non-vegans, a trip to the fish market would usually follow, however as we were focusing on making the most out of Bali’s incredible vegetable options, after a brief tour of the local marketplace, we set back to the hotel to commence our class.
Utilising some of the most medicinal herbs and spices on the face of the earth, ingredients such as tamarind, turmeric and lemongrass were the centrepiece of each vegan dish. With 4 dishes to assemble, we began by making a traditional spice paste, a staple of the Balinese diet used to liven up most dishes of both meat and vegetable origin. With this alone, we created the most incredible turmeric and lemongrass soup, marinated grilled tofu in a banana leaf, marinated tempeh skewers and my favourite, green papaya salad.
An absolute must-make for healthy foodies – this amazing paste can be stored in the freezer for up to a month or used all week long with absolutely anything and everything. My new favourite staple – below is Eko’s recipe for traditional Balinese Spice Paste:
-450g Large red chillies, seeded and chopped
-50g Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
-225g Shallots, peeled and chopped
-175g Fresh Turmeric, peeled and chopped
-200g Medium-sized tomato, halved and seeded
-100g Ginger, peeled and chopped
-2 tbsp Coriander Seeds, crushed
-150ml Coconut Oil
-2 ½ tbsp Tamarind Pulp
-¾ tbsp Salt
-3pcs Salam leaves
-2pcs Stalks lemon grass, bruised
Combine all ingredients except tamarind pulp, salam leaves and lemongrass, salt and water in a food processor and grind coarsely.
Place ground ingredients in heavy saucepan, add remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat for approximately 60 minutes or until water is evaporated and marinade changes to a golden colour.
Leave to cool before using and then enjoy!
Alila Villas Uluwatu costs from USD 965 (+21% tax and service charge) per villa per night
The Journey by Gastronomy Alila Journey at Alila Villas Uluwatu costs from IDR 1,200,000 (+21% tax and service charge) per person
We flew to Bali on Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific flies daily between London and Bali and four times weekly between Manchester and Bali. To book flights visit cathaypacific.co.uk
Prices start from:
London – Bali economy = from £819
London – Bali Business = from £3,619
Manchester – Bali Economy = from £789
Manchester – Bali Business = from £3,589
*All flights are correct at time of publication
Words by Zsa Zsa Vella