Monday, March 20, 2017

Denpasar Traditional Market

Denpasar’s charm lies in the marvellous way in which it retains such a strong hold on its cultural heritage and the ethnicities of the Balinese people, flawlessly combining the new with the old. For those who yearn to explore and have an insatiable thirst to deep-dive and learn new culture, a visit to Denpasar traditional market is the perfect doorway to authentic Indonesian lifestyle.

Badung Traditional Market in Denpasar strongly depicts Balinese culture and traditions by beautifully encapsulating Balinese lifestyle in all its shops. This market invites you with street carts, busy food stalls and people selling snacks right off the back of their motorbikes. Exotic and enticing in its own way, the market atmosphere draws in locals by the hundreds, ready to examine through a stockpile of market goods for a fraction of their retail price.

Currently relocated to Jalan Cokroaminoto after a major fire incident, Badung Traditional Market is the centre of town's economics. Despite being a little dull from the outside, this complex remains a strong driving force for the Balinese economy with transactions and sales happening around the clock. The local people who go for shopping at this market are not only from environment of Denpasar community but also from other places. Badung Traditional Market is operating for 24 hours, divided by 2 shifts start at 5 in the morning and 5 in the evening.

This enormous shopping place consists of a large main building that houses stalls and shops of all varieties, including hardware, slow-moving items and daily necessities from clothing, home ware, kitchen utensils and ceremonial goods such as ornamental baskets and incense. It offers a perfect picture of Balinese tools and items that the locals use almost every day. Some have fixed prices, while others can be well negotiated. Outside the building is the 24-hour-open-air market counterpart, where fast-moving items and groceries are sold. You can feast your eyes on colourful tropical fruits and bargain hard. This market becomes quite cramped up before big holidays like Galungan, Kuningan, or Nyepi.

The highlight of Badung Traditional Market is its authentic street food and Balinese style light bites. From the very humble stalls on the side walk to the food stalls on wheels and motorbikes with a gas cooker, the locals have found many diverse ways to serve warm and fresh food that seems to be delivered straight from the street. Most of the food stallers have their own ‘kitchen’ that they can build flexibly next to the diners who sit on plastic stools at makeshift tables.

You will instantly feel the aroma of Balinese spices engulfing you. Lovely satay skewers with rice cakes are charcoaled to the point where the sugars from the marinade caramelizes and gives the perfect crunch. Tipat is a rice cake cooked in woven coconut leaves, a simple stodge filler, served in a thick sweet peanut sauce. Wash it down with Es Kelapa Muda, which is coconut water and flesh on ice. If you really like spicy food, you will love sate lilit (minced meat, grated coconut, coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots and chili pepper), combo wound around a bamboo, sugar cane or lemongrass stick, and grilled on charcoal or even the Sambal Matah (a chili salsa condiment that you put over grilled fish, chicken or rice). The suckling pig is definitely a must try. It is a unique dish roasted on whole over fire, stuffed with onions, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, shallots and chilies. A very common dish that you will find in most of small food stalls is different types of Lawar, like Pork, Jackfruit and Dragonfly Lawar, which is a mix of vegetables, coconut and minced meat drowned in rich herbs and spices. Nasi Campur is Bali’s signature dish but when you order it from local eateries, the chili they put on the side or on top is ridiculously spicy, which gives you the kick of real street food.

The street food in Badung Traditional Market attracts thousands of locals and tourists every day. Simple dishes with complex flavourings is what makes these food items so irresistible, living up to the true definition of street food.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine