December 8, 2010

Celebrating Odalan

I have been going back and forth between 3 continents for the past few months and it feels really good to be back in Bali. In three days, Komang's family will be celebrating Odalan, the anniversary of the family temple.

Temple dressed for Odalan

 For this occasion, which occured about every 6 months or so, many preparations have to be done beforehand and we start very early in the morning making Banten, which are the  traditional offerings, all the while drinking coffee, chatting and joking.



Odalan is a happy time of family gathering and honoring the gods
A lot of cooking has to be done as well to feed all the helpers for breakfast. And this happens in the beautiful kitchen of Komang's aunt, Ibu Kelemun. I love being in this dark room watching dishes after dishes being cooked on the old wood burning stove with blackened pots and woks.

Low benches lie on one side where spice pastes are prepared in volcanic stone mortars and hiding within small wooden cupboards, one can always find the pungent terasi, the sour and sweet lunak, the kasuna, bawan merah, the laos, kunyit and jahe, the basic aromatics of Balinese cooking.

Out of this very simple kitchen by Western standards, complex sambals and fragrant dishes come out, one after the other, effortlessly. This reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen in France where most of the cooking was done in the fireplace in earthenware pots and in which, as a child, I always felt safe, nurtured and comforted.

In the meantime, on the other side of the road at the Banjar (the village meeting hall where people gather to discuss village matters and prepare food for ceremonies), men are busy preparing the spice pastes for the different meats, making lawar, skewering chickens and grilling the satés, all in a perfect harmony like a dance known by heart,  with the background music of the knives chopping rythmically.

Preparing the meat for saté

Working the line Bali style

Chickens waiting to be grilled

Made Mudre  working solo
Saté Lilit
Saté Asam
Grilling saté
            Not very far, the Babi Guling crew is at work, cleaning and preparing the babi for the pit.

Babi Guling is the ultimate beloved Balinese dish of a suckling pig rubbed in fresh turmeric paste, stuffed with cassava leaves and spices. It is spit roasted for hours over an open fire of coconut husks to a delicious perfection: the meat succulent, juicy and tender with a hint of milkiness; the skin crispy, shattering in the mouth with an explosion of flavor, a thin layer of quivering and translucent fat underneath melting on your tongue; the stuffing, slightly bitter, a little bit sweet and hot providing the counterpoint and balance of the whole dish. 
It is pure heaven and no ceremony is complete without at least one Babi Guling. So much luck that the gods are content with the Sari, the emanation of the offerings, and that us, mortals, can partake on their leftovers!

Babi Guling
Balinese Roasted Suckling Pig
serve 25 people

1 15 lbs suckling pig, cleaned
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
3oz fresh turmeric, chopped and grind
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil

2 lbs cassava leaves, cleaned, blanched for 5 minutes and chopped
12 oz of shallots, sliced
15 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 long red chilies, finely sliced
15 to 20 bird's eye chilies, finely sliced
3 oz fresh turmeric, chopped
5 oz galanga, finely chopped
2 oz lesser galanga, finely chopped
4 oz fresh ginger, finely chopped
12 candlenuts, chopped
10 salam leaves, chopped
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
10 stalks lemongrass, chopped
2 oz tamarind paste
1 Tbs shrimp paste, roasted and crumbled
1 Tbsp peppercorns, crushed
3 Tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 Tbs sea salt

Combine the turmeric with the water and oil and process in a blender until smooth. Strain the liquid and press to extract all the liquid, set aside in a bowl.
Rub the pig, inside and out, with the salt.
Combine all the ingredients for the stuffing and fill the pig cavity with the mixture. Close the cavity by either sewing it with a trussing needle and string or with bamboo skewers.
Brush the outside of the suckling pig with the turmeric mixture.
Place on a roating rack in  the center of a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 1/2 hour, baste with some of the turmeric mixture and turn the pig over, continue to cook for another 1/2 hour, baste again, lower the temperature at 350 degrees F and cook another 1 to hour longer, basting occasionally, the skin should be crispy and golden and when pierced, the juices should run clear.
Let rest for 15 minutes in a warm place.  Remove the string and place the stuffing in a bowl.

Carve the skin and some fat first and then carve the rest of the meat.

Serve with rice, some stuffing, skin and fat and some pieces of meat.

shrine in Jasri beach


  1. Hey Mama,
    Robert and I really enjoyed your last post on the bread. I must admit I think you win the award on best tress. What's next? We eagerly await the next challenge.

  2. That is making my mouth water. I love roasted pig.

    Feed My Sole Blog

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog Christine, did you ever have babi guling while in Bali? I will definitely look at your blog! Hope you will come back sometimes.


Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, I welcome and appreciate your feedback very much. Have a great day!