Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bewitching Bali Day 3

Yasa was once again waiting for FF and me at the hotel lobby right on time. Sated from breakfast and almost rubbing our hands in anticipation, we readily jump into his comfortable ride and off we go to explore another side of Bali we've never seen before.

From  Seminyak,  it was a long drive to Karangasem where Puri Agung Semarapura  or KlungKung Palace is located. A historical building complex , housing   the Hall of Justice or Kerta Gosa Pavillion where Kings of old , cast judgement over local disputes  or punish to the wrong doers. While on trial, convicts can view depicting murals  of what  awaits the sinners in the afterlife painted on the ceiling of the hall. Thieves, adulterer, liars, rapists, murderers will reap what they sow. What comes goes around, comes around. Most Balinese people are Hindus and are deeply religious at that. They strongly believe  in Karma.

The painted ceiling of Kerta Gosa

After flipping through the very graphic paintings that made me hope I haven't step a single toe out of the 10 commandments, the beautiful surroundings ,  well manicured  gardens,  paintings and carvings of mythical being made me  sigh in relief that  I still got to enjoy earthy Nirvanas.

We visited a nearby market, which is more colorful and interesting than most malls here in Germany. Bought a couple of sarongs and turban for FF to use while visiting our next destination.

On the way to the next destination, Yasa bought us some snack on a go. Some sugar filled  rice cakes with caramel coconut-y bits that kept us going through the afternoon.

The Besakih Temple or the Mother of all Temples in Bali.

The most important Hindu temple in Bali. Grand and  majestic, it certainly fits the bill.

There are many religious festivities all throughout the year, and many believers, some even travel all the way from Jakarta come to this place to pray and give offering to their gods.

The journey from Besakih Temple led us around Gunung Agung  . The highest point on Bali that dominates the area.

Today's trip is long and tiring and we even forget lunch. On the way to home we passed by a coffee farm and tried the infamous Kapi Luwak. Known to be the most expensive coffee in the world. Apparently, coffee beans that has been eaten and defecated, yes you read it right, defecated, by  a certain feline specie fetch as much as 6000 dollars a kilo in some countries! Somewhere between its snout and anus must lie the secret process of  making the perfect , few dollar$$$ a cup  Cat-Poo-chino.

A short stop at this waterfall on the way to Seminyak completed today' s tour. It started to rain again so we did not really manage to expore the place more that we want .

It was a tiring yet fulfilling day. After a heavy dinner and an hour of pampering at the neighboring spa, FF and I went back to our hotel room with a contented smile, many happy holidayers wear. His, was as a matter of fact, much wider. I' not sure if it's the tour, the delicious foods or the 20 finger massage we just had from the Indonesian ladies we thoroughly enjoyed . Yup, 20 fingers....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chicken Mandras

 Tiny beads of sweat were visible on the forehead of  FF's birthday guests  as we cram down some fiery and tasty Indian foods one Sunday. But the hint of spiciness seemed to  whet than dampen their appetite. Lunch was wiped out in no time.

Today's menu for 12 :

Shrimp samosa with tamarind and mango chutney
Fish Tikka with mint sauce 
Chicken Mandras


It was the chicken madras that had guests raving in appreciation. I found this fantastic recipe on  the Internet and now want to share it with  you.

Chicken Madras


  • 2 kgs chicken breast ( I used chicken legs, thighs included, cut into serving pieces with skin and excess fat removed !) 
  • 1/3 cup  vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 
  • Spices (2–4 red chillies , finely chopped ( more if you like it really hot!)  , 4 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground turmeric, a  handful  of curry leaves)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 500g ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 100- 250 ml water, as needed
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish
  • 100 ml of coconut milk
  • Juice one a lemon or lime 

Cooking Instruction:

 1. Heat oil in the pan. Add onion, sauté until it softens and the edges become caramel brown. Takes about 5 minutes or more. Add chopped chillies, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3 more minutes.

2. Meanwhile, drizzle half of the lemon juice over chopped chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
 3. Add in the spices into the onion . Cook  for a minute.
 4. Add chicken into the pan. Stir until lathered in spices and browned. Add tomatoes and about 100 ml of water. Bring to a boil  . Cover pan and reduce heat. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Stir once in a while and check if sauce becomes too dry. Add more water if necessary .

 5. Stir in garam masala, cook for 10 more minutes , uncovered. 

7. Stir in coconut milk, turn heat to high and bring sauce to a boil. Add the rest of the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Garnish with coriander leaves and   serve with white rice or naan bread. The best part of this dish is, it tastes even better the next day!

It's so good , I made it again a week after. There's no such thing as too much curry after all, right?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Salmon and Spinach cannelonni

FF was in the mood for some pasta and I was feeling a bit indulgent.  We've been having meat the entire week , so  we decided to have some fish instead. With green salad thrown in , we're less guilty of the calories we've taken. I try to pretend that the  butter and cheeses used were just just figments of my  imagination. It was a delicious lunch and worth it anyway. ( °_^)


600 g salmon fillet
handful of chopped parsley
juice of one lemon
300 g spinach
4 cloves garlic
lasagna sheets ( I used 16 pcs)
oil of sautéing
60 g grated emmatelar cheese
Béchamel Sauce:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
3/4 l milk
100 g Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

1. Heat oil in the pan, sauce spinach in garlic until just withered. Season with salt. Set aside.

2. Make béchamel sauce. Melt butter and flour in a sauce pan under medium low heat. Keep stirring until fragrant.
3. Pour scalding milk into the pot. Stir and bring to a gentle boil until it thickens a bit . Stir in Parmesan cheese, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

4. Cut salmon fillet into 1/2 inch cubes or strips. Drizzle with lemon juice. Add chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
 6. Assemble cannelloni. Bring salted water into a boil. Blanch lasagna sheet for a minute or until pliable enough to roll. Lay 1 just-cooked lasagna on a clean kitchen towel. scoop 1 tbsp. of spinach and few cubes/ strips of salmon fillet on the lasagna . Roll and put on a buttered baking /lasagna dish, seams facing down. 
7. Once bottom of the pan is filled with cannelloni, pour half of the béchamel sauce and grated cheese.
8. Put the second batch of cannelloni on top  of the first layer , using the rest of lasagna , spinach and salmon. Pour the rest of the béchamel sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  

9. Bake in a preheated ( 200  ° C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cannelloni rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with green salad.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bewitching Bali : Day 2

I woke up alert and ready for another day of adventure. No sense of  grogginess and no hint of my usual morning wwwhhhat?-where-am-I?-uugghh-5-more-minutes-please- lethargy. Instead, I  sprang into action, conscious of where i am  and what to do, stepped into our modern bathroom grinning at my jacuzzi tub like a newly found  best friend . Breakfast was the usual fare, and people watching became a nice morning habit.

Bali Made Tour_  made my Balinese dream holiday possible. Unlike most tour companies that bring Tourists from their given   traps  spots  to another, Bali Made Tour offers personalised itineraries. Which means, you got to decide where you want to go, and what to do while you are with them.  . Our driver and tour guide, Juli Arta, picked us up from the airport and drove us to Uluwatu on the first day. His shy demeanour  and almost child like  honesty made him  a pleasant companion. Plus, he know South Bali like the back of his hand, being born and raised in Denpasaar. He also knows where's the best and most reliable money changer in Bali.

Today's  tour guide and driver ,Nyoman Yasa, is  more open and better conversed in English language. He will gladly explain things about Bali , its people and heritage as you travel to your chosen destinations.

The streets became noticeably less congested as we drove out of Kuta-Seminyak-Sanur area. Helmets are no longer worn by moppet drivers as we drove past local villages and underage drivers became a common sight.

Travelling is Bali is never boring. On the contrary, it is a feast to one's sense. We were constantly wowed by the rich Balinese architecture , the intricate carvings and the  impressive facades of many Balinese homes . Yasa brought us to a typical village and we went inside a Balinese home, the family are very welcoming and they showed us around their humble abode . It was very interesting.

 Typical Balinese kitchen. 

After saying good bye to the gracious family, Yasa  drove us to the UNESCO cultural landscape , Jatiluwih Rice Terraces 

This vast and scenic rice field is a sight to behold. I thought I know a lot about rice, growing up in a farming community back in the Philippines ,but I was still amaze at the sheer height of the rice stalks , which is almost as tall as I am , in this place.

Yasa asked us if we are want to try some local street delicacies , and  FF and I readily said '' Yes!''. He is such a gem during our stay in Bali, he brought us  places that often serve authentic and really cheap local fares. . He sometimes stop at a local eatery and bring us some typical Balinese snacks. FF and I manage to stay fit and healthy during our 10 day holiday. At Jutiluwih, we feasted on a bagful of rice cakes drizzled with grated coconut and syrup. It was delicious.

 We passed by a river filed with many locals. Most Balinese are devoted Hindus and they adhere to many rituals. Water, like in most religious beliefs, have spiritual cleansing properties.

The darkening clouds and the threatening rain did not dampen the beauty of   Puru Ulun Danu Bratan. With a towering mountainous backdrop,  this Hindu temple adrift Lake Bratan, is as picturesque as any postcards can get.

It did not take long before the threatening dark clouds got tired of sulking and started pouring. Although Yasa brought us in an elevated area which ought to show the beautiful expanse of the lake, the fog and the mist hindered us to fully appreciate the view. We end up getting inside a local restaurant instead. A redeeming alternative, I tell you.

Meal and drinks, including banana dessert for three came less than 10 bucks! Cheap and delicious!

 The sun  was once a again up , pouring people with her merry warmth as we get back on to our journey. We stop at a local market and bought some delicious tropical fruits. Some fruits and vegetables are noticeably the same as what I could get back home.

Pura Taman Ayun or the royal temple in Mengwi, offers well maintained garden, beautiful pagoda and  and manicured landscapes. this is another UN world heritage site.

Quiet and with much less tourist compared to other temples in Bali, Mengwi temple is often used for many private and governmental events. Some lavish parties are also held at its vast lawns.

Some parts of the temple however are off limits and close to the general public. Only worshippers and Hindu priest are allowed to step into the inner compound.

The clock is ticking and knowing how fast sun could set in Bali, we rushed up to the last destination of the day. Tenah Lot Temple. The traffic is once again very bad making us and Yasa quite twitchy,

He channeled his inner Michael Schumacher and wiggle his way out of the traffic and manage to reach Tenah Lot before sundown, letting us marvel at the once again romantic sunsets of Bali while sipping fresh coconut juice and Bintang beer. Aaaaaah what a bliss!

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