Through the lush green Balinese countryside then, to the Alila Manggis Cooking School
More smiles and welcomes awaited us there and we were shown to a beautiful sitting area around a low table on which were set a few ingredients.
Cool water and hot ginger tea were brought to us and we sat as Chef Santika told us more about Balinese cooking and the flavours which characterised his recipes. At this point, we wondered if we were simply going to watch a demonstration rather than do any hands on cooking – and that was fine with us.
But no sooner had we had the thought than we were given pinnies to wear and shown to an open sided kitchen with glorious views of the gardens and the beach. There seemed to be some serious cookery tools there too – oh my, we were indeed going to be “hands on”!
Chef explained everything fully before we began and we followed his instructions and advice to the letter. His assistants were there to help if needed but stood back and allowed us to work at our own pace.
They were happy to offer friendly support with the knife skills – those knives are fiercely sharp, I can tell you!
They were also carefully watching to make sure we crushed the correct ingredients and chopped the others.
Best of all, when we gathered to watch chef do the next step, or taste his sauce before adjusting our own, the “elves” cleared away all the used pots and pans and replaced them with clean ones. Bliss!
We began by making the basic spice paste “Bumbu Bali”, which involved a great deal of chopping, pounding, grinding and mixing. This spice paste was then used in the other recipes.
All ingredients were laid out “mise en place” for us, covered in banana leaves (so much more attractive than cling film, wouldn’t you say?!) Here are the ingredients for the chicken satay, for which we made a peanut sauce too.
Every time we moved on to the next recipe, the things were cleared for us and new ingredients laid out, prepared and ready. The organisation was superb, the facilities perfect and we were having a great time.
We stuffed squid with chopped prawns which chef steamed in a basket like we’d seen in the market earlier.
He made a spicy curry of tofu and soybean cake whilst we waited for our chicken to marinade
Not a moment was lost, but we always felt we understood what we were doing. This was a great class.
Last but not least, we made Nasi Goreng. This involved the use of the wok and a very high flame. We were advised to fold our tea towels to protect our hands as we held the wok steady – hold in one hand, stir with the other and crack and add the egg with….? ermmm….. This was all quickly done and there were plenty of onlookers to ensure that we were ok.
So my tea towel hadn’t burned that much before someone noticed and ran to put out the fire!!
We took the finished (yummy!) Nasi Goreng to the table for our lunch, only to find everything else we’d cooked there on the table, too. Wow! We were ravenous, but still couldn’t finish it all, sadly. So delicious, so straightforward to prepare and yes, of course, we all said we’d go home and cook it again!
We were presented with certificates and aprons by Chef Santika, who was the most charming and talented teacher. What a great way to spend the day.
Back on the ship, we looked out over the river, watching a lone fisherman walking in the shallow water as the tide rushed in. We’ve had a wonderful couple of days here in Bali; full of activity and delight. We quickly gathered our things together and just made it in time for a TeaTime Trivia triumph!
The “ladies who lunch” took our heroes out to dinner tonight which was fun. Lots of stories to tell from busy days over more great food and wine. A day at sea before our next adventure begins!