So you’ve booked yourself a Bali vacation, but are worried sick about what you’ll eat there? For vegetarians, travelling in South-East Asia can get tricky as the food isn’t exactly conducive to non-meat eaters. But hold on, and leave those food packets at home – Bali has a thriving vegan and vegetarian food scene, with plenty of restaurants and cafes serving it.

Food in BaliFood in Bali via Pexels

You won’t go hungry in Bali as a vegetarian, because of the sheer number of Western and Asian options available. And you don’t need to scrimp out on the local food either – Balinese cuisine has plenty of dishes to keep a vegetarian happy. From the traditional gado gado salad to satay and tempeh curry, there is enough to fill your tummy. We’ve listed out the best Balinese vegetarian dishes out there to ensure your tummy (and your wallet) are satisfied.

1. Gado Gado

For vegetarians, this is the best, tastiest, healthiest, and most easily available dish out there. Indonesia’s most famous salad is a delectable concoction of mixed vegetables (lettuce, cabbage leaves, steamed carrots and potatoes, and often tofu and bean sprouts) and a thick delicious peanut sauce, topped with an egg and prawn crackers.

Since eggs and prawn crackers are only used as toppings, you can ask for your gado gado without them. The mixed veggies and peanut sauce will still taste delicious, and satiate your tummy. Gado gado is among the five national dishes of Indonesia – which means that it is great, no matter where you try it.

From warungs (street side stalls) to fine-dining restaurants, it is available everywhere and varies slightly depending on the recipe of the cook. Literally meaning “mix mix” in Indonesian, gado gado is best had cold (although many experts equally prefer to have it warm).

2. Nasi Goreng

Indonesia’s most iconic and best-known dish, nasi goreng is nothing but the country’s version of fried rice served with anything and everything from mixed vegetables to meat to seafood. Considering that Indonesia is full of rice fields, this one comes as no surprise.

Although most people have the meat and fish variants, you can ask your server to make it for you with vegetables. The dish is usually topped with a fried egg, which you can ask to be deleted.

If you’re having it at one of the stalls, it’s best to be prepared with the local vocab to ensure you don’t run into any nasty surprises. Mention ‘tanpa daging’, which means without meat, or ‘tanpa daging dan tanpa ikan’, which means without meat and fish to them and you will be sorted.

3. Mie Goreng

This is for those who aren’t too fond of rice – or those looking for a change from the nasi goreng. Substitute the rice in the dish for fried noodles and you get mie goreng. As tasty as the nasi goreng, this one can also be packed with vegetables and Indonesian sauces, instead of meat and fish.

Mie GorengIthaka

As with nasi goreng, ask for a version without the fried egg if you don’t eat it. Also don’t forget to mention ‘tanpa daging’ or ‘tanpa daging dan tanpa ikan’. With or without the meat and eggs, it’ll still be delicious!

4. Sate

Balinese sate is usually marinated, grilled, and skewered meat served with a spicy sauce. But you can opt for a meatless version, made out of tempeh, which is nothing but a savoury cake made out of soy. Similar to paneer or tofu in texture, it is packed with fibre and other nutrients, making it healthier than either of the former two.

In Bali, you’ll find tempeh everywhere – it is used as a flavouring in several of their other dishes, including nasi or mie goreng. Often referred to as peasant food, it has a nutty and earthy flavour that pairs amazingly well with Indonesian sauces.

Similar to the meat in the original version, tempeh here is grilled over charcoal or an open fire, and moulded around a lemongrass stalk or wooden stick. If you don’t like the taste of tempeh, many warungs and restaurants also serve sate made out of a minced vegetable patty which is just as delicious.

5. Bakwan Jagung

Jagung literally translates to corn in Indonesian, and bakwan jagung are nothing but deep-fried corn fritters. Here, corn and rice flour is mixed with corn, carrot, cabbage, garlic, chilli, shallot, galangal, palm sugar, and salt. It is usually mixed with fingerroot and kaffir lime leaves, which impart it with a unique, spicy flavour that you just won’t be able to get enough of.

bakwan jagungIthaka

For those who like that extra kick, bakwan jagung is often served with raw spicy chillies that are not only fiery but add an extra dimension to the dish. Bakwan jagung can also be referred to as dadar jagung or perkedel jagung, so look out for those names – but make sure you avoid the confusing bakwan undag, which is actually a dish made with shrimp!

6. Sayur Lodeh

As a vegetarian, can you miss out on soup? Sayur lodeh is a popular Indonesian soup having a coconut broth and many types of fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll often find corn on the cob, jackfruit, chilli peppers, eggplant, long or melinjo beans, tofu, or tempeh in the soup, making it a hearty meal for when you want to keep it light and healthy.

The Balinese often eat it with rice to complete the meal, but you don’t have to do that. Make sure that you specify at your warung or restaurant to keep it vegetarian, though, as they may sometimes use chicken or beef stock to make it.

The highlight of this soup is the spicy bumbu spice mix it uses, featuring ground chilli pepper, shallots, garlic, candlenut, coriander, kencur powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar. Sayur lodeh comes in two variants – a yellow one with added turmeric, and a greenish white one without it.

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7. Sayur Asem

Very similar to sayur lodeh, this soup uses a tamarind base instead of a coconut one, which gives it its distinctive and absolutely delicious tart and sour flavour. It originated from the Sundanese people of West Java, Banten and Jakarta, who made it their staple diet, and is similar to the Thai tom yam soup.

Sayur AsemSayur Asem via @yeyen_163

Sayur asem’s sweet and sour flavour means that it pairs excellently with fried or grilled dishes – try it with hot sate or bagwan jagung for a deliciously filling meal. You’ll usually find this soup everywhere, from street side stalls to five-star establishments.

8. Tempeh

A savoury cake made out of soy, tempeh is packed with fibre and other nutrients and offers a distinctive nutty and earthy taste. This ‘peasant food’ is perfect for both vegetarians and vegans, and is widely used in Balinese cuisine. Fried tempeh is often used as a flavouring or topping for most Indonesian dishes.

Some of our favourites include the Tempeh Goreng, a sweet and spicy flavoured tempeh dish; Tempeh Curry, tempeh with vegetables and curry sauce; and Tempeh Sayur, green vegetables with tempeh and soy sauce. Either or all of these can be accompanied with steamed rice or noodles, or even nasi and mee goreng.

9. Tahu Berontak

Tahu, as tofu is known in Indonesian, is as ubiquitous as a Bintang in Bali. Tahu berontak is an addictively popular snack served up on street side stalls.

The stall vendors stuff huge chunks of tahu with vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts, and deep fry them till they’re crunchy to the bite. The dish is served with a sauce, which can be anything from a sweet and spicy one to the uber fiery sambal.

10. Onde Onde

By now you must have figured that the Balinese love their fried food (although how they still stay so slim is beyond me). Adding to the long list of fried dishes available on this island is onde onde, a teatime snack or dessert, depending upon your taste and inclination.

Onde OndeOnde Onde via @mitry1708

In Indonesia, these sticky rice snacks are filled with sweet mung bean paste, although in China and nearby Malaysia they might have lotus paste, sweet black bean paste, red bean paste, or pandan leaf juice.

These balls are then covered with sesame seeds and then deep fried. The palm sugar that’s in them literally bursts into your mouth, adding a deeply flavourful dimension for the sweet-toothed.

11. Cendol

Cendol is an iced sweet dessert that contains droplets of worm-like green rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. Sounds disgusting? Well, it’s not!

Somehow all these ingredients together lead to a uniquely different dish that may be an acquired taste for some, but will be a hit with those who enjoy exotic desserts. In Bali, they sometimes add toppings including diced jackfruit, sweetened red azuki beans, or durian to it, which only enhances the strong flavour of this dessert.

Don’t hesitate to give it a shot if you see it on the menu or at a warung – it is definitely worth a taste!

12. Rujak

Another popular Balinese dish, this is a fruit and vegetable salad that is served with a thick sauce made of chilli and peanuts. There aren’t many that love this dish, but those who do can’t get enough of it. In Bali, you’ll see a rujak made out of anything, from water apple and raw unripe mango, to pineapple, cucumber, and sweet potato.

What’s common in all of this, though, is the savoury sauce that is often cooked down to a glutinous consistency, almost like toffee. Vegetarians should double check that the cook is making it without terasi (that’s shrimp in Balinese). Often eaten as a snack, it can even be had as a dessert after a light soup meal.

13. Bubur Injin

This Indonesian dessert is made out of black glutinous rice, sticky white rice, coconut milk, pandan leaves, coconut cream, and palm, or cane, sugar. It is the perfect accompaniment to your Balinese kopi (coffee). Locals often eat it as breakfast, but we’d suggest you have it as dessert.

Bubur InjinIthaka

Bubur injin has an almost chocolatey flavour and can be paired with ripe jackfruit or sliced bananas.

14. Exotic Fruits

For vegetarians and vegans, fruits are a good source of nutrients and vitamins – and Bali has an amazing selection to offer. You’ll find exotic fruits such as mangosteen, dragonfruit, rambutan, durian, soursop, java plum, snakeskin fruit, boni (wild berries), pomelo, and ambarella on the island.

Don’t be intimidated if you haven’t ever heard of them – their juicy flavours and taste are sure to leave you wanting more.

The Free Trip Planning App for Bali!

Highest Rated Travel Planning App on Android & iOS

If you want to avoid reading hundreds of articles like these to plan your trip, download Ithaka.

It is a fun way to discover Bali and plan your entire trip by talking to someone who’s already been there and done that!

From helping you discover the coolest destinations to recommending activities, your travel buddy on Ithaka will help you plan your entire trip.

Download the App Now:

Image result for play store image Image result for app store image .png