Culinary Bali: Succulent babi guling

Bali is famous for its various pork dishes, but the all-time winner is babi guling, whole roasted pork on a spit. Your Bali experience is only complete if you’ve had a plate of babi guling or two!

Babi guling is a signature Balinese dish featuring roasted pork with lawar and some vegetables over steamed rice. The juicy meat is served alongside other parts of the pig, including the traditional cooked sausage urutan, fried pig liver, pork satay, and pieces of crunchy crackling over a special mix of spices that include turmeric, chilli, and lemongrass, the usual Balinese spices. You can also add some red sambal to your liking!

Lawar is commonly cooked by Balinese men and is a mixture of minced meat, vegetables and spices. The side dish comes in many varieties, depending on where you are in Bali. There’s pork, chicken, duck, jackfruit… you can also mix them all up! The most common vegetable used in lawar is string beans, which are boiled, chopped up, and mixed with spices and coconut. Sometimes, you might notice the lawar has a reddish colour. This is a special kind of lawar called “blood lawar“, where they mix pig’s blood into the dish to add taste. Thus, the lawar spoils really quickly, so make sure you always check the freshness of the lawar before purchasing.

To ensure the meat is juicy and tender, the piglets used for babi guling are usually three months old and roasted over an open fire for around 3 hours. Older, often larger and heavier pigs are roasted as well, but usually only for more significant occasions like temple ceremonies or weddings. It takes more time and effort to roast an adult pig, and sometimes the entire village has to pitch in during the cooking process!

Babi guling can be found almost anywhere in Bali, from small warungs to large restaurants. Ensure you have babi guling during lunch hours (11 AM to 2 PM) to get the freshest cuts.