• Nasi Padang or Nasi Campur

    Local food in Bali can be served in various ways. The best is the restaurants that have their
    whole selection of food displayed so all you need to do is to look and choose.

  • At the market

    At the market you can find women selling various dishes. Just choose the dishes your want
    and she will wrap it up with rice to go.

  • Chili Pepper

    Herbs and spices are the key to delicious Indonesian food. Generally the food in Bali is
    spicy but don't worry, they can adjust it to your liking

  • Breakfast

    Ladies wake up early to prepare delicious breakfast as take away. They wrap the breakfast
    neatly in banana leaf and paper so regulars just need to pass by to collect it.

Rijsttafel, a culinary treat that shouldn’t be missed


Indonesia is the land of spices and herbs and this was the main reason the Dutch, Arab, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and British tried to colonize it. The Dutch were present for more then 300 years exporting nutmeg, cloves, mace, ginger and black pepper.

Rijsttafel is a Dutch word and means 'rice table'. It was invented by the Dutch colonial plantation owners, who loved to sample different Indonesian dishes with small portions at a time. Local dishes from the whole archipelago was selected and served on a long table. One Rijsttafel could contain around 40 Indonesian dishes at once.


rijsttafel bali food
Selamat Makan.

As you can imagine, it became an instant hit and tradition in the Dutch East Indies and the concept 'Rijsttafel' is still known and prepared in The Netherlands today.

However the number of dishes have been down-sized and it is mainly served in Chinese-Indonesian restaurants. Unfortunately it tastes a world apart from the dishes you can find in Bali or the rest of Indonesia where emphasis is placed on lots of spices and herbs.

If you travel in Indonesia, or just Bali you will soon realize that the country has a lively food culture and that their daily life often evolves around cooking and eating. However the Rijsttafel isn't present anymore among the locals and therefore not served in regular Indonesian restaurants. It is mainly found on menu's of restaurants focused on tourists.

That said the Balinese are still known for preparing a dozen or so dishes for special occasions, but generally the concept Rijsttafel can be compared with Nasi Campur. This means 'mixed rice' referring to rice served with a mix of various dishes on one plate.

Other restaurants that serve something similar to the Rijsttafel is the 'Nasi Padang'. Padang is a region in Sumatra which is known for its restaurants displaying a couple of dozen of dishes. Since the dishes are cooked for a very long time, the quality of the food and its tastes remain just as good despite being out on the counter all day. If you are in a real Padang restaurant, all dishes will be placed on little plates and served in one go. Your whole table will be covered with all kind of dishes of all kinds of flavors. You only pay for the food you touched and eaten.


nasi campur
Nasi Campur, the modern version of Rijsttafel

In Bali you have the same concept in Warungs such as Ocha, Warung Murah, Warung Indonesia or Warung Lada. But instead of having all the dishes served at your table, you go to the counter to choose what you want. This again is called Nasi Campur.

However there are still a lot of restaurants in Bali that have re-introduced the concept of Rijsttafel. Restaurants such as Ketupat and Poppies in Kuta have it on the menu.

It is the ideal menu to choose for those who enjoy sampling delightful local flavors and want to try more then just the famous Nasi Goreng. You are able to try dishes you otherwise wouldn't know and perhaps you will discover new favorites.

Order it and before you know it your table will be covered with tasty dishes. The golden rule here is to take a little by little so you can go for a second serving after tasting them all.

Examples of dishes included in a Rijsttafel are:

Satay Ayam -- bbq chicken skewers with peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce

Pisang goreng -- fried banana

Serundeng -- peanuts with coconut especially tasty with yellow rice

Daging smoor -- Beef cooked in spices and sauces

Perkedel -- meat and potato cakes especially taste with white rice

Ikan Pepes -- grilled fish with spices wrapped in banana leaves

Krupuk –- shrimp crackers

Atjar –- sweet and sour vegetable salad

Urab –- Grated coconut with steamed vegetables

Tahu –- fried bean curd

Tempe Goreng –- fried bean curd beans

Telor Sambal Belado –- boiled egg stir-fried in sambal (chilli) sauce

Ayam Kerrie –- chicken in the Indonesian type of curry

And many more…

Surprise yourself and don’t forget to ask the waiter what all the dishes contain and what they are called so you can order more if you like.

Home > Bali Culture > Rijsttafel

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