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What do Vegetarians Eat in Bali?

Photo by Lotte Lohr

I didn't do nearly as much blogging as I wanted to in Bali. It was a combination of a few things. Laggy internet and the fact that I'm probably going to need to buy a new computer when I get back home means that posting anything is a very time consuming and sometimes frustrating process that can take way more time than I have.

We were also usually outside if we were awake, so I didn't have a lot of indoors time to get my posts together. On top of that, I've been working quite a bit while travelling and frankly, spending most of my 'online' time writing content for other people's blogs and websites!

Although we have left Bali, there should be a few upcoming posts about my time there, which was amazing and I already miss it. Although I'll miss the people the most, I'll also miss the food!

This was my second trip to Bali and it was only this last time that I felt I really clicked with the food and got a handle on the different vegetarian options there. I did this by stopping eating from tourist restaurants that I found were pretty bland and under-spiced for the tourist taste and taking more risks by eating street food, stuff I had never heard of or tried before and non refrigerated food in display cases that local people eat.

We went a long way just by asking questions as to what stuff was we saw and if it had meat in it. Unfortunately, I didn't take a lot of photos because I was usually busy stuffing my face! Here are some of the highlights:

Photo by

  • Nasi Campur-This is not my photo so I can't take credit for this beautiful image. The truth is, a lot of my food photos from Bali are terrible as you will see. I didn't take the time I should have to take my SLR with us since we were at the beach a lot and I didn't want sand in it. Many times, my older Iphone wasn't taking the greatest photos or the lighting wasn't good but anyhoo, this is Nasi Campur (pronounced Cham-poor).

Nasi Campur is different everywhere you go and is basically a mix of side dishes with a portion of rice. Chances are it will be different each time you order it, based on what they have made that day but the vegetarian versions might include things such as stir fried water spinach (or kangkung), grated fried coconut, peanuts, chilis, tofu dishes or tempe, sometimes even sate! It is sooo good!

  • Noodles and curries-This may not look restaurant quality because it's not! This is just something I whipped up at home one night when we didn't feel like going out. Fried tempe and curried noodles with potato and carrot. Totally satisfying, spicy and delicious!

Photo by Kasham's Blog

  • Indonesian ready made/take away food. Again, not my photo. I don't know why I didn't take photos of these great display cases we saw all along our way. During our last trip to Bali, we shied away from these display cases, thinking that the food might be a bit risky, or not so fresh, but the truth is if you go to one of these restaurants that is busy and has a high turnover, you'll be just fine. We also thought there wouldn't be any vegetarian food at these kinds of places, but we were wrong. Not to say that you might not have fish sauce in a lot of these dishes, though, so be careful if you are abstaining.

The food is super fresh and all the chili and spices preserves most of it anyway, and there are also plenty of hot food choices too. Basically how it works is you either dish it up yourself, or get served the items you choose, with a serving of rice and you pay for what you eat. It is definitely the most authentic and economical way to eat in Indonesia and you'll get to try so many new things that you normally wouldn't, or wouldn't know to order off a menu.

Here is an example of a huge plate of food I got from one of these kind of places, and I put the little price tags beside it to give you an idea of the cost. On the plate here, I have brown rice, curried yellow potatoes, corn fritters, fried potatoes with tempe, spring roll, sate sauce, tempe manis (a fried crispy tempe), a duck egg and a small potato fritter. With a large 1.5l bottle of water, this was under $3 CAD/AUS. And way more than I can or should eat!

Here is an example of a menu at one of these types of places, with the names of the food in Indonesian and English and the price per spoonful. Amazing!

Fruit! Lots and lots of affordable and delicious fruit! For a lot of the time in Bali, we stay next to a fruit market, so I would always come home with a big bag of fruit. Here you see bananas, pineapple, durian, mangosteens and snake fruit.

Coconut, snakefruit, papaya, rambutans, avocado and watermelon!

  • Fresh coconuts-every day. Oh my god, how I miss them already.

  • I had an amazing time at a vegetarian cooking class in Ubud, that hopefully I will have a chance to write about soon. In the meantime, here are some dishes I learned how to cook there. Grilled mushrooms in banana leaf, vegetable curry with tofu and tempe, chopped long beans with coconut and chili, tofu and tempe sate with homemade peanut sauce. And white rice, of course.

Another photo of the curry we made. Sooo good!

  • A dessert from my cooking class-simmered sweet potato with palm sugar syrup and coconut. Sooo good.

Are you a vegetarian who has been to Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia? What did you eat?

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