Jambangan Bali Cooking Class was the highlight of our vacation in Ubud. It was more than just a cooking lesson.
Below is a quick 33-second video on our overall experience with Jambangan Bali Cooking Class. The cooking day class also included a trip to a local market and an optional visit to Kopi Luwak Coffee Plantation.
Here is an overall itinerary of our experience at Jambangan Bali Cooking Class from 8.30am – 12.30pm:
|1. Pick up from hotel||2. Visit Luwak Coffee (optional)||3. Welcome drinks at Rakesh’s|
|4. Weave bamboo mats||5. Cook eight dishes & eat them!||6. Drop off at hotel|
Cooking classes in Ubud are very popular. Do try to secure a booking at least two days in advance to avoid disappointment.
We honestly had nowhere in mind when looking for a cooking class in Ubud. We looked up the internet and called up a few recommended places but to no avail. Cooking classes turn out to be really popular in Ubud! Most cooking classes in Ubud are conducted either in the morning or afternoon, and morning classes usually include a guided tour to a local market (or the paddy fields).
Right when we were about to give up, we chanced upon Jambangan Bali Cooking Class. We called Rakesh up and enquired for two slots the following morning. He confirmed our booking and asked for our pick up address.
Rakesh picked us up from our hotel at 8.30am and we were surprised that we were the only participants for the morning class! We were driven to a local wet market (nothing like the touristy Ubud market across Ubud Palace) called Pasar Umum Tegalalang where Rakesh introduced several ingredients to us.
We walked around the busy market, learnt about their fresh produce and watched the locals mingle. Please do not expect to browse through any souvenirs as the market is solely catered for the locals. It was a refreshing change compared to Ubud’s town centre, where foreigners usually make up to over 95% of any eatery’s patrons.
Rakesh then asked if we have visited any Kopi Luwak plantations and offered to drive us there. We have been meaning to drop by one of these interesting coffee plantations after seeing many pictures on Instagram, so we accepted his kind invitation immediately.
You can choose to skip Kopi Luwak if you have already been there or are simply uninterested. There are several Kopi Luwak places across Ubud and the one we visited was near Tegalalang Rice Terraces called Alas Arum Coffee Tegallalang.
Upon arrival, a local guide took us around and briefed us about their unique coffee. Civets, otherwise known as luwaks, are cat-like nocturnal creatures that feed on coffee cherries. Coffee beans are then found in civets’ droppings due to the animals’ inability to digest the seeds. The beans manage to take on a special taste and smell after going through the luwaks’ digestive tracts.
After a thorough cleaning process, the coffee beans are sold at a higher price (as opposed other coffee beans) for its quirky novelty. Visitors have to pay an additional SGD 5 to sample this special coffee. We gave the prized coffee a miss and proceeded with the free sampling of 14 other coffees and teas. We left the shop with packets of mangosteen tea and grounded ginseng coffee. Those two were our favourite flavours from the lot.
Jambangan Bali Cooking Class takes place at Rakesh’s home, hence providing guests maximum privacy and undivided attention.
Finally, our next destination was the long-awaited cooking class at Rakesh’s lovely home. Unlike most other cooking classes that are held in hotels or restaurants, participants of Jambangan Bali Class would be invited to learn Balinese culinary skills right in the comforts of a local’s house.
We were warmly welcomed by the Jambagan Bali family who greeted us with fresh coconuts. As we slurped away to cool ourselves down, Rakesh talked to us about their Balinese culture. Orientation is very important in Balinese tradition and his house was a perfect example on how the cultural belief has influenced them. The North-East is believed to be an auspicious direction and it is where Balinese families will locate their ancestral shrine and master bedroom.
We learnt how to weave bamboo mats and carve vegetables into different sculptures. These hands-on activities actually require a lot of patience and skills! We found ourselves giggling over wrong moves that resulted in collapsing vegetable flowers.
Mrs. Rakesh, our enthusiastic teacher, offered us numerous bottles of mineral water throughout the lesson to ensure that we were well hydrated. She is such a joy to be around, guiding us through every step with her contagious laughter.
P.s. Jamnbangan Bali Class is definitely suitable for beginners.
We were taught to make the following delicious Balinese dishes in non-chronological order:
Basic yellow sauce, otherwise known as basic genep is the first thing we learnt to make. It is a complex fragrant paste used in many classic Balinese dishes and lasts up to two weeks when refrigerated. Ingredients were prepared beforehand and displayed neatly on the table to speed up the cooking process.
Palm sugar is also a staple ingredient in Balinese dishes and Mrs. Rakesh would always say “one more for good luck” when adding tablespoons of it to the pot. Her son and other members of the family soon joined in to assist us in carving cucumber crabs, grilling the sate empols and whatnot.
We tried to document our experience whenever possible but our hands were constantly busy slicing, marinating and frying. Time flies when you are having fun! Soon enough, we ended up with a table filled with delicious Balinese food. There was so much food and no way we could finish everything.
Jambangan Bali Cooking Class ended at about 12.30pm and we were driven back to the hotel. And here’s the thing – We almost forgot to pay for our class! Thankfully Mrs. Rakesh reminded us and we felt so terrible. She even apologised for reminding when it was clearly our fault, not hers. The hospitality of Balinese people is truly remarkable; everyone we met were very friendly and helpful.
It costs about IDR 350,000 (which is equivalent to approximately SGD 36) per pax for a Jambangan Bali class. For all that has been included, we felt that we got way more in return and would highly recommend it to anyone.
Here are some personal tips and advice from us before you head off for Jambangan Bali Cooking Class:
- You might want to either skip breakfast or have a very light one to prepare for a feast!
- Afternoon classes are also available but you will probably not get to visit the local market.
Disclaimer: This trip was prior to our knowledge of certain coffee plantations capturing Luwaks and cruelly force feeding them for commercial purposes. We did see a few caged luwaks but are uncertain about Alas Arum Coffee Tegalalang’s practices in obtaining luwak coffee. Hence we remain neutral towards other travellers’ decisions of visiting Alas Aram Coffee Taglalang and/or purchasing luwak coffee from them.