What is Lawar?
Balinese cuisine has many signature dishes including babi guling and bebek betutu. One of the local dishes that all Balinese love is lawar, with every family making lawar at special occassions such as ceremonies. Attending a wedding ceremony in Bali, foreigner might be asked “Bani ngajeng lawar?” (“Are you brave enough to eat lawar?”). The ingredients of lawar as well as the taste mean westerners often aren’t immediately taken by it.
Ingredients in lawar:
Balinese traditional spices such as kunyit, shrimp paste, salt and ground pepper, galangal and other roots; grated coconut, green beans, boiled young jackfruit and occasionally, singkong leaves, all chopped up and blended together.
Meats used in lawar
The meat distinguishes the type of lawar – chicken, duck, beef, pork, turtle, or even dragonfly. Although it is considered a delicacy at ceremony time, fortunately turtle lawar is becoming less and less common. Dragonfly lawar is most unusual because it takes so much time and money because you have to use so many dragonflies to fill you up! Most lawar has raw blood mixed with it but not all Balinese like this and many prefer their lawar vegetarian.
Lawar & ceremonies:
On the day of a ceremony Balinese people rise early to prepare food. The men will take care of the sate, the women chopping away preparing vegetables. Men are also responsible for the lawar and sit in a circle, chopping, chatting, and mashing, generally socializing. There’s no rush in Balinese ceremonies and the men enjoy chatting, sipping a coffee of some arak while making the lawar.
Where to get lawar:
Lawar can be spicy and very salty, so a small portion is best for your first time. The nasi bungkus (rice to go) that is sold on the street from a motorbike, in small packets sometimes contains lawar. Glory Restaurant in Legian is one of the places you can get lawar, along with many other authentic Balinese dishes.