It’s no secret I love my food, in fact I’d be lying if I said the food in Bali wasn’t a consideration when I thought about moving here! So when I found out I could do a cooking class in Sanur, I signed up straight away. Warung Makan SMS is one of my favourite warungs in Sanur, with fresh food flavours from all around Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Japan. They also deliver for free in the Sanur area.
Chef Mudana is from Sanur and after 18 years of culinary experience working in prestigious hotels and restaurants in Bali and Japan, he decided to launch his cooking classes from the custom made class room on his family property. The classes are varied from a lunch time class, dinner class or even a full day which starts with a tour of the Jimbaran fish markets to select the freshest produce before you learn how to cook. He can also tailor classes according to dietary requirements, allergies, vegetarian requirements or even an in-villa class and dining experience.
I did the dinner cooking class ( www.cookingclasssanur.com ) which starts at 5pm, and met Carlijn and Tom who were also doing the class. Mudana handed us a welcome drink of lemongrass, honey, mint and lime. It was a taste of things to come because the combination of flavours was cool and refreshing. The class room was immaculate with big bench tables and chairs, fresh aprons for everyone, and the ingredients were all lined up and labelled and extremely organised – completely different from how I normally cook!
We start by learning all the flavours of the herbs and spices and what works best with what. These herbs and spices are the foundation of Balinese cooking so during the class we learnt all about mixing them in different combinations to create Bumbu or sambal matah or the basis for a soup. It’s not easy work -lots of chopping and pounding using the mortar and pestle. The great thing about the class is that it is as interactive as you want it to be, you can participate in each chop, mix and stir and it’s a great way to learn how it all comes together. The hard part to this…you just want to start eating it all straight away!
The menu included Sayur Urab, Ikan Sambal Matah, Sop Cram Cram Ayam, Sate Lilit Ayam, Ayam Betutu, Sambal Udang and Dadar Gulung. Sayur Urab is the green mixed vegetables that often comes with Balinese dishes, full of shallots, garlic, grated coconut and chili. Ikan Sambal Matah is a freshly grilled fish, which Mudana selected from the Jimbaran markets that morning, and it’s grilled over flaming coconut husks and coals, stuffed and covered with freshly chopped chili and a lemongrass dressing. The Sop Cram Cram Ayam is a chicken soup but that really doesn’t describe it adequately. It’s a richly flavoured soup using minced chicken mixed with the Balinese Bumbu paste which is then poured over crunchy cucumber slices and extra chilis if you choose (which I did and even though it was hot, it wasn’t burn your face off hot and added a lovely zing to the soup – I imagine it would ward off any cold or flu and certainly get the appetite ready for the next dish). Sate Lilit Ayam is a favourite for many – minced chicken with all the herbs and spices you want, wrapped around either bamboo sticks or fresh lemongrass skewers. I love the ones wrapped around lemongrass as it adds a deeper flavour to the sate lilit. You could also make these with minced seafood or fish or pork. They are grilled over the hot coals and don’t take long at all.
Ayam Betutu can be done a variety of ways but for this class Mudana prepared a whole chicken which was then stuffed with greens, like a water spinach, and the Bumbu paste. The paste was also rubbed into the outside of the chicken. The chicken is then wrapped in banana leaf and secured with toothpicks then placed in a steamer for at least an hour. So while the chicken is steaming, you prepare and cook everything else so that it all comes out at the same time and ready to eat straight away. Udang Sambal was the last main dish we cooked with the prawns selected by Mudana at the Jimbaran markets again, cooked in a chili tomato sauce. One of the things I found interesting was the use of coconut throughout the class. From the oil, to grated coconut, to the leaves, to the husks….every part of the tree is used. And it’s so light that it isn’t overpowering to any other flavour.
Finally we made crepes which used a green leaf native to Bali that is blended then strained to produce a silken liquid that is poured into the crepe mixture. I am not even going to pretend I attempted to make crepes…or flip them for that matter. But Tom and Carlijn were fantastic and each crepe was perfect! I stuck to mixing the coconut and sugar mixture which fills each crepe. You can then eat the crepes as is or covered in syrup or with extra sugar and coconut. I’m going to try make them at home with vanilla ice-cream…if I even get to that point. Chances are I will eat them as soon as they come out of the pan!
Mudana then plates up all the dishes and makes them look beautiful in their arrangement while Made, who has been patiently chopping and prepping everything, starts cleaning up. It was definitely the best Balinese food I have ever eaten and one of those nights I was really glad I wore stretchy pants! I didn’t want to stop eating but was at the point where I might have slept on the floor in the classroom if I didn’t! I can’t answer for Tom and Carlijn but we were all very very quiet while eating dinner and double helpings were had and plates were cleaned at the end of class. So I’m thinking they loved the food as much as I did.
I highly recommend doing this class. Yes it was a great lesson and really interesting to see how all the flavours come together. But it was also so much fun and Mudana and Made were amazing at teaching us how to cook each dish. And for this foodie, being able to eat everything we had just made, was easily the best part of the class! In fact, I’ll be signing up for another class soon…just so I can eat more of Mudana’s amazing recipes! If you are in Bali and want to learn how to make healthy, tasty, traditional Balinese and Indonesian food, make sure you check out www.cookingclasssanur.com , tell Mudana you read about the class on this blog and be prepared to go to taste bud heaven. Oh and Warung Makan SMS is open from 6pm to 10pm so head in for dinner and a beer and meet Mudana and his family. To support this hard-working family, make sure you leave a review on Trip Advisor . Who knows? Maybe one day Chef Mudana will have a cooking school!