Heritage food Bali

IMG_5290Translating into something akin to ‘heart-touching life’, the founding philosophy of Kayun is that “Anything created with a heart will bring happiness, inner peace and positive energy.”

Unless you are lucky enough to be invited to a ceremonial meal in a village, finding a traditional Balinese dining experience can be surprisingly difficult. A visit to the Kayun Restaurant and Lounge in Mas gives a rare insight into the relationship between food and the divine. The setting is utterly enchanting, thatched berugas and a main dining pavilion set amidst a natural garden. Many of the products used at Kayun are homemade, from the brem (rice wine) to coconut oil to soy sauce, and you can watch women at work in the traditional open air kitchen fuelled by a log fire.

Our welcome drink is a rather potent Brem Mojito and we follow with some traditional jamus, including a Loloh Kayun Turmeric, a dark orange concoction made with turmeric, ginger and lemon, and a grassy green Loloh Kayun Saraswati sweetened with natural honey from Singaraja.

Food is beautifully presented, the Nasi Saraswati comes on a lotus leaf, topped with eight symbolic dishes woven from banana leaf. Each is an offering and pays tribute to the ocean, the river, trees, earth and sky, with turmeric rice, dry salty fish, river shrimp, grated coconut, crunchy soya beans, sambal and spicy chicken. The Lotus Rice is decoratively wrapped in a lotus leaf tied in a bundle. It’s a little like opening a birthday present to reveal rice that is slightly sweet and just a little spicy rice with pumpkin, carrot and tossed in coconut oil. The Vegetable Bamboo comes packed into a bamboo stem, blending the earthy goodness of cassava leaf with tofu and tempe and Balinese spice.While the Yuyu Crab]is a fresh river crab soup beautifully served in a coconut. Other traditional dishes include Crispy Duck, Soto Ayam and Bubur Rempah herb porridge made with red rice, star anise, sweet corn, cinnamon and chicken stock, and a Natural Daluman Pudding that takes its green colour from the daluman leaf.

Mas is famed across Indonesia for its wood carving. As legend has it, in the 16th century, a monk named Danghyang Nirata placed a wooden twig in the ground, which miraculously became a living tree filled with golden flowers. He took this as a sign that the people should put down their roots in this place, and call it Mas, meaning gold; and declared that the people who settled here would create their life from wood. As well as a restaurant, Kayun creates stunning works of art and sculptures lovingly carved from single tree trunks, so make sure to take a peek in the Bidadari Gallery at the entrance to the restaurant.

Kayun Restaurant & Lounge

Jl Raya Mas 47, Ubud


Raw treats in Seminyak



Whereas vegetarian food was once associated with hippies and peace signs, and raw food meant little more than a salad or a handful of nuts, these days healthy eating has hit the mainstream, with more and more people opting for organic whole foods. Tapping into the world-wide raw food trend, Divine Earth swung open its doors in February this year, with an expansive menu of wholesome raw dishes, nourishing juices and organic wines. Spread over two floors, the space is fresh and serene, with a calming colour scheme shaded in green and beige, and an open kitchen area with glass display counters filled with enticing desserts and snacks. A recently expanded dinner menu also includes a selection of cooked vegetarian options.

Raw foodies claim that fresh ingredients retain enzymes, vitamins and proteins which are often destroyed by the cooking process. With a little imagination, creativity, and the use of a dehydrator (which gently heats food to 43 degrees without actually cooking it,) raw food chefs can create all kinds of tasty treats. Our crispy flax seed crackers go beautifully with a Trio of Dips. The Portobello Mushroom has been marinated in honey and tamarind, and popped in the dehydrator to emerge rich and full of flavour, with salad, pickles and thick creamy tofu cashew cheese on the side. The dehydrator has also crisped up the vegetables for the sty Moussaka layered with turmeric cashew cheese; while Almond Bread with Chive Cashew Feta makes a very tasty breakfast dish.

I am a huge fan of raw desserts, which can deliver the sweetness you crave but leave you feeling lean and energised rather than full and loaded with sugar. The Banoffee Ice cream Terrine served with salted caramel sauce is just superb, as is the Chocolate Almond Crunch with rich satiny chocolate smoothed over a nutty, crunchy base. Drinks include a zingy Green Juice, and a thick and velvety Tantra – a healthy boost of blueberries, oat milk and cacao which is similar to a chocolate milkshake but without the dairy heaviness

Tucked into the sidewalk at the end of Jalan Raya Basangkasa, Divine Earth is ideally situated next to Divine Goddess (selling yoga wear) and Seminyak Yoga Shala, creating a wellbeing corner in the heart of town. The cafe is a collaboration between Gil… of Divine Goddess, and Liat Solomon, founder of Down to Earth, a ‘whole life’ company that has grown to incorporate five vegetarian restaurants/markets (including Zula and Earth Cafe), and a substantial product range. For Solomon, an experienced nutritionist and vegetarian/ macrobiotic chef who has cooked for various celebrities such as Kevin Costner, healthy food is a not just a passion its a way of life.

Divine Earth Jalan Raya Basangkasa, Seminyak

Phone:(0361) 731964

Hours:7:00 am – 11:00 pm

Raw food Bali

IMG_7727 Raw food is all the rage these days, especially in the holistic heart of Ubud, and we find Living Food Lab right alongside Hubud (a collaborative working space and business network.) Surrounded by a pretty garden with colourful bean bags on one side, and glistening rice fields on the other, the airy bamboo building creates a casual, comfortable setting for light and nutritious food.

An experiment in conscious eating, Living Food Lab also celebrates the notion of food as an art form, and meals are beautifully served on wicker plates lined with ornamentally-cut banana leafs. With the exception of chick peas, beans and quinoa (options in the salad bar,) everything on the menu is raw, and sourced locally to ensure absolute freshness. The use of a dehydrator slowly and gently heats food to 43 degrees, which keeps all the nutrients and enzymes intact, and creates crispy flax seed crackers, kale chips and tostadas.

Early risers can hit the breakfast bar and start the day with an organic cold pressed FREAK coffee, and load up at the granola station packed with seeds, nuts, oats, fruit, coconut or cashew milk. Lunch choices include a daily specials board and a salad bar, filled with all manner of sprouts, vegetables, legumes, greens and a good choice of dressings, such as beet vinaigrette, citrus avocado, pesto, and tahini with a kick. Organic cashews, sourced from the fabulous East Bali Cashew Company, located in the north of the island make a highly versatile raw food ingredient and can be churned into tasty cheese, whipped into a smooth filling for cheesecakes and pies, and crushed into a crunchy base.

We have a Corn Tostada, with a crispy corn and sesame cracker topped with a sunflower seed pate, spicy marinated vegetables, cashew cheddar and cashew sour cream. Generous amounts of cilantro, cumin and lime create an authentic Mexican flavour. The towering Zoom Burger has dark zucchini and mushroom crackers layered with sundried tomato paste, tomatoes and cashew mason – which tastes like a crunchy parmesan cracker.


Raw food really comes into its own in the dessert arena, granting the sweet taste you crave, minus the guilt factor, and the deli counter is filled with all kinds of enticing delights, from Bliss Balls, to Silky Truffles, to Mulberry Cheesecake and richly smooth Chocolate salted Caramel Cups. I devour an entire slice of fragrant Strawberry Cheesecake and feel wonderfully light (and not at all remorseful) afterwards.


Living Food Lab started at the Green School, where kids, teachers, and visitors on daily tours can stop by for a healthy bite. Known as the ‘greenest school on earth,’ this is probably also the only school in world with a raw food café, and you can join introductory raw food courses on Saturday mornings at 9am.

Living Food Lab

Jalan Monkey Forest 88x Monkey Forest Road,

Open 7am-7pm


Coconut Spa Ritual









Known as the tree of life, coconuts are a nourishing and versatile gift of nature, and play an essential role in Balinese rituals, cuisine and well being. Inspired by the soul of nature, Amarterra Spa, Nusa Dua incorporates coconut into every aspect of a divine spa ritual.

You certainly don’t need to look far to find a coconut in Bali. They dangle from leafy palm trees, are sold by roadside vendors as a refreshing drink, form the creamy sweet base of aromatic curries, while the fresh leaves of coconut palms are used to weave Hindu offerings.

The Dharma Rejuvenation treatment at Amarterra Spa offers a celebration of the coconut that will leave you glowing from the inside out. Set in the tranquil surrounds of Amarterrra Villa, Nusa Dua – a luxury resort that embodies the spirit of ancient Balinese culture – the spa is a serene oasis adopting the Hindu/Buddhist philosophy of Dharma as a key to achieving a better way of life. Soothing treatments include traditional Balinese wellness practices through the power of living plants, water, precious stones and inner strength.

My spa ritual begins as I sip from a fresh young coconut. Packed with nutrients and electrolytes, this is the ultimate hydrator, and I feel it nourishing every cell of my body. Next I receive a Hindu blessing and sprinkle of holy water from a virgin coconut, followed by a cleansing foot ritual with scrub of Balinese sea salt and lime and a cool splash of coconut water. A scrub made from the grated flesh of a coconut is then applied to my body. Ideal for sensitive skin, it is gentle and mildly exfoliative and left to dry on my skin before being gently scrubbed off. The virgin coconut oil massage that follows is deeply relaxing, and aromatic, imbued with essential oils of lemon, lavender and ylang ylang. The coconut oil glides smoothly over my skin, a pure tonic of vitamin E and antioxidants, that soothes, conditions and seals in moisture.

Hot towels remove the excess oil and a creamy coconut lotion is applied to my body. Another Balinese blessing is bestowed upon me, and a comforting warm rosella and ginger tea completes the treatment.

The verdict

Massage is revitalising as it stimulates blood circulation below the skin and in the muscles which brings more oxygen to tissues, and when combined with a rich nourishing oil such as coconut, the effects are increased significantly. While the treatment itself was deeply relaxing, I emerge thoroughly rejuvenated, and my skin feels wonderfully silky. I am then advised to pick a lucky stone from one of eight pots, and it comes as no surpise that the stone I have chosen bears the words ‘transformation.’

Amarterra Spa  BTDC Nusa Dua  +62 361 776400

Bali Salt

salt1Salt farming in Bali dates back a thousand years, and although the industry is declining, salt pans can still be found on the shores of eastern Bali, where farmers use ancient techniques to craft 100% natural salt by sun and wind evaporation.

The Lombok Straight brings clean cold fast moving water from the north which mixes with the warm Bali tropical water to create a unique, mildly flavoured artisan salt which is stocked in gourmet delicatessens around the world. The taste is distinctive – mild and slightly sweet – and you can buy it direct from the farmers here on the island, which makes it a unique and tasty souvenir, as well as providing much needed support for a traditional way of life.

Many salt farms are concentrated around the traditional village of Kusamba on the south east coast, where farmers live in simple shacks nestled between the palm trees and the shiny black, mineral rich sand. The village springs to life in the early morning, just as the sun creeps over the horizon. First the sand is raked, then sea water, carried in buckets on bamboo poles across the shoulders, is poured over the sand. The hot sun bakes the sand into brittle flakes which are collected and washed with fresh water in a large wooden sieve. Seawater is added over several days to separate the salt from the sand. The resulting brine is then placed in long troughs made from split bamboo, and the sun and wind evaporate the water, leaving pure organic crystals of sea salt in its wake. Time consuming and labour intensive, farmers yield just a few kilos per day and as the process is sun dependent, salt can really only be produced during the drier months.

Another region, famed for its salt production can be found in the far north eastern corner of the island where rugged mountains tumble to a cerulean sea. Here, a collection of peaceful fishing villages, collectively known as Amed, cling to the coast where black sand is lined with colourful jukungs (fishing boats) and salt pans lie in the shadow of Mount Agung. Kids wander up and down the beach selling salt in decorative boxes, you can also buy it by the kilo from the roadside stalls or direct from the salt pans. Those in search of a unique back to nature experience, can stay at Uyah Amed & Spa resport (Salt Lodge,) a rustic, eco friendly resort that is partly solar powered. The sprawling beachfront property is built around working salt pans, and aims to preserve salt production in the region. www.hoteluyah.com

While once a main stay of the Indonesian economy, the artisanal industry has sadly fallen victim to consumer demand for cheaper processed salt and the number of salt farms is rapidly dwindling, as is this unique style of island life.


Exotic Spa Ritual



Spa rituals at Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali call on ancient wisdom, the knowledge of medicinal plants and the restorative power of the natural environment.

Arriving at the sunny lobby of Spa Village Resort we receive the most relaxing of welcomes, as our feet are immersed in copper tubs filled with flowers, and we are treated to a head neck and shoulder massage. Nestled in a coconut grove on the exotic black sands of north east Bali, the tranquil resort is dedicated to wellbeing, creating a unique opportunity to rejuvenate and absorb the powerful essence of this sacred island.

All spa treatments begin with a Segara Giri pre treatment, which sees me sitting on the edge of a sunken steam bath with my feet resting on black volcanic sand. The warm misty vapours sooth my soul and clean my feet in an act of ritual purification. The next step of my journey is a Lapis Lapis (Malay Herbal Wrap,) ideal for detoxifying, reducing water retention and relieving joint pain. My therapist smothers me in lemongrass, ginger, galangal and camphor, then wraps me in hot towels. While my body gently steams in a warm and spicy cocoon, a slew of natural ingredients are applied for a traditional [Balinese Natural Facial]. A creamy mix of yoghurt and milk calms and cleanses my skin, a scrub of rice blended with turmeric and tamarind leaf gently exfoliates, while honey provide the ingredients for a soothing massage. A calming face mask of yoghurt and seaweed is followed with aloe vera gel to seal in moisturise.

I emerge, blinking in the sunlight to a beautiful vision of the deep blue sea glinting through the palm trees, and sip a warm and syrupy elixir of turmeric palm sugar and tamarind. It’s good to replenish with some healthy food after a spa treatment and the beachside restaurant edges an enticing, infinity-edged swimming pool. A Raw Vegetable Salad drizzled with roasted sesame dressing, is followed by a Poached Salak and homemade chocolate ice cream. Our spa day sadly draws to a close, its been a wonderful experience but one day simply wasn’t enough.


Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali  Jalan Singaraja-Amlapura No 100 Desa Tembok, Tejakula Buleleng+62 36232033

Food for healing

Turmeric: anti inflammatory, astringent.

Tamarind leaf : antioxidant, vitamin C and A.

Honey: calmative, antioxidant and antibacterial.

Lemons: contain AHA’s and BHA’s which remove dead skin cells and help clear acne, and discolouration.

Yoghurt: multi vitamin superfood that makes the skin glow with freshness

Seaweed: packed with vitamins C and A to restores moisture levels and revitalises the skin.

Aloe vera: deeply moisturising, reduces dark spots and blemishes.