About janet

Australian-born Janet DeNeefe has lived in Bali for 30 years. Together with her husband, Ketut, Janet runs three restaurants, Casa Luna, Indus and Bar Luna, as well as, the Casa Luna Cooking School and Honeymoon Guesthouse. She is also the founder and director of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival and Ubud Food Festival. Janet lives at the Honeymoon Guesthouse in Ubud with her husband and family. She is also the author of Fragrant Rice and the cookbook, Bali: The Food of My Island Home.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Coconut Pannacottas

Elegant, ivory white and melt in the mouth, this sublime treat is a blend of coconut and pandan – Asia’s classic dessert duo – tinged with the seductive surprise of orange. There is just enough gelatine to make the pannacottas voluptuous and not too firm (but if you live in the tropics as I do, you might need to add more). I love these served with a drizzle of palm-sugar syrup, but I also sometimes serve them topped with a spoonful of Black Rice Pudding (page 208) for a dramatic colour contrast. Either way, it is a dessert you almost have to dress up for!

The pannacottas set overnight so you need to begin this recipe a day ahead.

1½ tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons water
310 ml coconut milk
2 pandan leaves, tied together in a loose knot
2 wide strips of orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 titanium-strength gelatine leaf
400 ml cream
Palm sugar syrup
250 g palm sugar, roughly chopped
250 ml water

Put the white sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut milk, pandan leaves, orange zest and vanilla and simmer over
low heat for 15 minutes to infuse the flavours into the milk.

Meanwhile, soften the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and add to the hot coconut milk, stirring to dissolve the gelatine.

Pour the cream into a large bowl. Strain the coconut milk onto the cream, removing the pandan leaves and orange zest, and stir to combine.

Lightly oil 6 x 125 ml-capacity dariole moulds, ramekins or elegant glasses. Place them on a tray and fill with the cream mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the palm sugar syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then simmer without stirring for around 15 minutes, until roughly reduced by half. When small bubbles appear on the surface, remove from the heat immediately. Strain into a jug and leave to cool.

To serve the pannacottas, run a knife around the insides of the moulds and turn onto plates. (Or if using glasses you can serve them as they are.) Drizzle with a little palm sugar syrup.

> Makes 6


All the ways to enjoy coconut in Bali

Coconut, grated In Bali, fresh coconut is always the starting point for recipes featuring coconut – whether it is grated or in the form of coconut milk. A coconut is split open and the flesh is priced out from the shell. The pieces are either left raw or roasted over a flame before being grated to add to salads or to use to make coconut milk. Away from the tropics, frozen pre-grated coconut is acceptable in recipes that call for grated coconut and can be found at Asian grocers. However, in recipes calling for fresh coconut to be roasted, it is best to seek out the real thing. Coconut milk Making coconut milk from grated coconut is a simple process that involves mixing the coconut with water and wringing it out to produce milk. See the recipe for Roasted Coconut Milk on page 40 for full instructions. The process is second nature in Bali, but coconut milk in a tin or carton is acceptable elsewhere of course. Kara is a good brand and is found in a carton. Or, as a better match to the texture of homemade coconut milk, you can buy light coconut milk if desired. Coconut oil Coconut oil is probably the most common cooking oil in Bali and is generally made at home. It has a mellow, sweet flavour and distinct aroma and is one of the keys to traditional roasted duck or suckling pig as well as many sambals. While it is comprised of mainly saturated fats, studies have shown that the particular saturated fats (namely lauric acid) are beneficial, boosting the immune system. Make sure you buy virgin coconut oil that is unprocessed and unhydrogenated, because hydrogenated oils have trans-fats that cause health problems. Coconut oil is also a luscious skin moisturiser and hair conditioner and is preferred by older Balinese women for keeping their hair glossy and lustrous.

Coconut Crepes with Warm Mango Filing (Dadar Mango)

These delicate crepes are one of my favourite desserts. Traditionally filled with warm banana or grated coconut (and I make savoury fillings too), I have taken the liberty to fill them with one of Bali’s favourite fruits – mango. Mango trees are a feature of most Balinese household compounds and are synonymous with the wet season. The fruit is eaten either slightly unripe with lashings of chilli and shrimp paste, or ripe and sliced into cheeks. If you wish to add the distinct flavour and aroma of pandan to the crepes (as well as colour them green), add a teaspoon of pandan essence. Crepes 150 g (1 cup) plain flour 1½ tablespoons white sugar ½ teaspoon sea salt 1 egg, lightly beaten 200 ml coconut milk ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon lime juice (optional) vegetable oil, for frying Filling 3 large mangoes, sliced 3 tablespoons grated palm sugar 125 ml coconut milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons grated lime zest Put the crepe ingredients other than the oil in a bowl and whisk together until smooth and free of lumps. Set aside while you make the filling. Put the filling ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, or until the mango is soft. Set aside. Heat a non-stick frying pan over low heat. Add a little oil and spread it across the base of the pan (I like to use a pastry brush), then add 1–2 tablespoons of the crepe batter and tilt the pan to spread the batter towards the edges, forming a thin crepe. When bubbles appear on the surface, flip the crepe over and cook briefly on the other side. Remove to a plate and continue cooking crepes with the remaining batter, adding a drop more oil when necessary. Top each crepe with 2–3 tablespoons of warm filling and fold in half. > Makes 8 crepes


RECIPE OF THE MONTH: Balinese-style Paella




So here it is! Casa Luna’s signature dish, which was inspired by – you guessed it – a trip to
Spain. I devoured paella nearly every day when I visited in 1991, and in Madrid in the
midst of probably my tenth version, I had an epiphany, or rather one of those ‘what’s all
the fuss about this dish’ moments, and realised I could create a superb Balinese paella
adding a little mystique of the spice islands.

Our paella is an elegant celebration of seafood as well as a meeting of Bali and the
Mediterranean – the flash of the flamenco is introduced to the shimmer of the legong,
Bali’s famous traditional dance. It has been one of the most popular items on our menu
since we opened our large wooden doors in 1992. In actual fact, our dish is not truly a
paella, but a spiced mixture of fish, prawns, calamari, clams and vegetables in a rich
tomato sauce, served on a bed of fragrant yellow rice.

My advice when cooking this recipe is to be patient and walk, or rather, flamenco
through the list of ingredients. If it makes you feel more confident, do what the cooks in
the Casa Luna kitchen do, be cheeky, laugh, and crack some ribald Benny Hill-style jokes.

Add a glass of wine to that and you will make yourself a masterpiece!


1 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional, for a deeper colour)
8 garlic cloves
8 red shallots, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons oil
125 ml oil
6 raw prawns, shelled and de-veined but heads left in tact
200 g white fish fillets, cut into fat chunks
6 garlic cloves chopped
2 medium red shallots, chopped
¼ medium onion, chopped
2 long red chillies, finely sliced
3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
200mls chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
6 clams, boiled in salted water until opened
6 calamari rings
1 small carrot, julienned
15 snow peas
4 kaffir lime leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups hot Fragrant Yellow Rice (page 000)
lemon basil leaves
wedges of lime

Put the tomato sauce ingredients other than the oil in a food processor and blitz to a
chunky sauce.

Heat the oil in a wok over low heat.

Stir in the tomato sauce and bay leaves and simmer for around an hour, until the oil rises to the surface. Taste for seasoning and spoon into a bowl. Wipe out the wok.

To make the paella, heat the oil in the wok over medium heat and toss in the prawns.

Fry for a minute, or until their flesh has just turned white. Remove from the wok with a
slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

Throw the chunks of fish into the wok and lower the heat a little. Toss around for
about 2 minutes, until just sealed all over. Remove to the plate of prawns.

Add the garlic, shallots, onion, chilli, lime leaves and ginger to the remaining oil in the
wok and toss around for 30 seconds.

Add 6 heaped tablespoons of the tomato sauce, along with the chicken stock ,
lime leaves and fish sauce and bring to a simmer.

Return the fish and prawns to the wok followed by the clams in their shells.

Simmer for a minute, then add the calamari, carrot and snow peas.
Cook until the calamari turns white. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the seafood and sauce on a bed of hot yellow rice. Scatter with lemon basil leaves

and serve with wedges of lime.

Serves 4

Bali The Food of My Island Home – Second Edition just released!


On the table before me lies my favourite Balinese meal: nasi campur, a serve of freshly
steamed rice topped with small helpings of delicious things. There is braised tempeh,
gently spiced smoked sardines, wok-fried water spinach with a scattering of sliced chillies,
amber-tinged chicken, warm sprouts and green amaranth tossed in peanut sauce, plus
fried sambal – which I simply can’t live without. Just a spoonful of each alongside the rice
is enough to satisfy the stomach and enliven the tastebuds.

Nasi campur is in fact nothing out of the ordinary, but simply the nourishing daily fare
that is prepared in every home, food stall and market in every Balinese village. The
selection of toppings is determined by the bountiful range of seasonal produce available.
Since I moved to Bali I have eaten nasi campur nearly every day and I will never tire of it.
It pretty well sums up Indonesia: small islands of food brought together by steamed rice.

My first visit to Bali was in 1974 as a Melbourne secondary-school student. It was a
trip that made an impact from which I’ve never recovered. I felt like Alice stepping into
a surreal wonderland of startling beauty and wild energy. I tasted food that defied
description, watched dance movements that resembled the fl utter of gilded butterflies,
and saw processions that took my breath away.

Continue reading

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Braised Pork with Kecap Manis

Braised Pork with Kecap Manis

This is a Chinese-influenced dish, and the giveaway is the use of kecap manis, the local version of Chinese soy sauce that is thick, sweet and subtly spiced. Kecap manis became prominent on Balinese market shelves in the 1960s and 70s and has remained a favourite ever since. (In fact, all seasonings in bottles are not traditionally Balinese, and some old folk won’t eat these modern flavourings because they don’t like them.)

Today babi kecap is often prepared for major ceremonies such as Galungan, when pork is on the menu partly because it keeps well and can be eaten by families over two days. My sons love it and tend to always overload their plates, resulting in tummy aches the next day. Every home has their own variation of the dish with different techniques and twists; for example, I have seen our uncle roasting dry spices to add to the stew to create more aroma and fl avour. In our household, however, the recipe is simple without too many additional ingredients, but with a few fat tomatoes thrown in for good measure. The slow simmering of the meat results in a super tasty and tender dish that has all the charm and sustenance of a home-cooked casserole. Normally, chunks of glistening pork fat are added with the meat to create an unctuous gravy, but I have taken a bit of a health stand here and used lean meat only.

1–2 tablespoons vegetable oil
500 g lean pork, cut into chunks
8 garlic cloves, fi nely chopped
3–4 red shallots, fi nely chopped
1 tablespoon fi nely chopped ginger
2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks (optional)
3 long red chillies, seeded and cut into long slivers
3 small red chillies, left whole
2 salam leaves
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied together in a loose knot
2 tablespoons kecap manis
slice of shrimp paste equivalent to 1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
sea salt
750 ml water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons fried shallots
steamed rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and toss the pork for 3 minutes, or until sealed all over. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger, tomato (if using), chillies, salam leaves, lemongrass, kecap manis, shrimp paste, palm sugar and a little salt and fry for another minute, or until fragrant. Add the water or chicken stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for at least 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with fried shallots and serve with steamed rice.

Serves 3–4

Food as Medicine Spice Tour

25 Nov-3 Dec

Early Bird Ends 31 Aug

Janet Banda Trip


It’s the year of the humble nutmeg and the Banda Islands. Join me on a cruise to the legendary spice islands and the island of Banda Neira and Run, inhaling history that changed the world, in between glorious Indonesian meals, trekking, snorkelling, swimming, and simply relaxing on pristine waters. Early bird special prices of AUD 3,900 ends 30 Aug. Deposit required. Contact pa@janetdeneefe.com for more information.


RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Black Rice Risotto with Salmon

black rice salmon rissotto

1 cup glutinous black rice, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons regular white rice, soaked for 1 hour
600 ml water
4 x 150 g Salmon fillets, skin on
Sea Salt
5 tablespoons butter
4 medium leeks, finely sliced
3 tablespoons seeded mustard
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 Kaffer lime leaves
500 ml chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoons greated palm sugar
2 tablespoons fried shallots
Chopped chives, to garnish

Strain the black rice and white rice and combine in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the water and bring the boil. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the black rice is a soft al dente and the water is absorbed or evaporated (you can add more water if the rice dries out before it is cooked)

Pat the salmon fillets dry. Pour a layer of salt onto a plate and press skin side of the filets onto it. Set aside for up to 1 hour. (the salt will dry the skin out a little and will be wiped off before cooking)

Heat a work or saucepan over low heat and add the butter. Once it has melted, throw in the leek and fry for 1 minutes, or until wilted. Add rice, mustard, lime juice, lime leaves and chicken stock. Simmer for 25 minutes or until the rice is soft and the stock is absorbed.

Towards the end of the cooking time, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Use the blande of a knife to wipe off the salt and any moisture from the skin of the salmon fillets. Seasons the skin with pepper and the flesh with salt and pepper. Heat a thin layer of oil in the pan and add the salmon fillets skin-side down. Weight them down gently with a plate, pressing the skin against the base of the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then remove the plate and cook for a further 2 minutes. Flip the fillets over and turn off the heat, allowing the fish to cook slowly for another 30seconds or so. Remove from the pan

Finish the risotto by stirring in the cream, plam sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and fried shallots.

Serve the cribs-skinned salmon fillets on top of the risotto and scatter with chives.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Chargrilled Squid

chargrilled squid


















This is one of the many barbecued dishes that are served by the sea at Jimbaran. In what
was formally a rustic coastal eating place dotted with simple grass huts, there are now
hundreds of bamboo tables and chairs perched on the sand, and tonnes of seafood being
served, from prawns to lobster and snapper to squid, for eager tourists. The secret at
Jimbaran is cooking the seafood over coconut husks for a delectable smokiness, and the
moist heat of the husks creates tender meat with glazed and burnished skin without
dryness. If you are flying into Denpasar at night, the smoke from the barbecues at
Jimbaran bay looks like an enormous bushfire.
This is a simple marinade and you can add any additional herbs. A bonus is that the
marinade can be prepared up to two weeks in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

100 ml vegetable or peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1–2 tablespoons kecap manis
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
5 kaffir lime leaves, rolled into a bundle and finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 kg squid, cleaned
Tomato Sambal (page 000) to serve
lime wedges to serve
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Cut the squid into 10 cm tubes and quarter the tentacles lengthwise. Add to the
marinade, coating well, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat a barbecue grill. Lift the squid out of the marinade and place on the grill. Cook,
turning occasionally and basting with the marinade, until golden brown and just cooked.
It should only take a few minutes.
Serve with tomato sambal and wedges of lime.

Serves 4


gado gado

Another Indonesian dish that varies from island to island. In Bali, Gado-Gado or jukut mesantok, as it is known in Bali, consist of spinach, bean sprouts, snack beans, tofu and rice cake. It is served in small warungs or sold by street vendors, who mix the sauce to order using a large mortar and pestle. It is then tossed with the vegetables and served in a banana leaf. In Java, Gado-Gado is served with a wider variety of vegetables, often including potato and cabbage. Therefore, the choice is yours.

Allow 200 grams of vegetables per person…..

Bean sprouts, spinach, beans, potato, broccoli, cauliflower
Cabbage, carrot, snow peas, cucumber, tomato wedges
Fried tempe or tofu, hard-boiled egg
Peanut sauce
Quartered or finely sliced krupuk udang (prawn crackers) or krupuk emping

Prepare the vegetables by boiling, steaming, and so forth.Slice  into bite-sized pieces or any manner you prefer and arrange on a platter, either in layers or mixed.
Top with fried tempe, tofu and hard-boiled egg, and pour peanut sauce over all. Garnish with shrimp crackers or fried shallot, wedges of tomato and cucumber.

To Serve : Gado-Gado may be served warm or chilled.

Bakmi Mania

I’m crazy about mie. Not mie as in me but mie as in Bakmi. I confess I am not an expert and I only like bakmi ayam, but, hey, that’s ok. I can think of worse addictions.

The secret is in the unctuous, full-flavoured, sweetly meaty, slow-brewed chicken stock . Then there is the quality of the noodles. Homemade are best and they should be not too fat, not too slender, somewhere between Hong Kong and Udon, and cooked al-soft-dente.  From what I have seen, most mie sellers have the stock on a constant roll so the flavour intensifies into golden, brothy, velvety heaven.

Bakmi Roxy, in Cikini Raya, is a favourite and with a punchy name like that, how can you go wrong? Bryan Ferry and “Let’s stick together “ always comes to mind. (Did you hear Jerry Hall is getting married again?) I love the simple charm of this food cart-meets-café noodle house, with its green-turquoise walls, soft orange pillars and plastic furniture. Established in 1991, they now have about five branches in Jakarta and serve my idea of chicken noodle perfection. But what I love most is the chunky, moist, coarsely chopped meat that sits on top of the noodles. It creates this thigh-rich journey that dark meat chicken lovers like me adore. I notice that white pepper and a few drops of chilli oil are first poured into the bowl, followed by noodles, Chinese greens and the all-important chopped chicken. Served with bakso ayam, chicken broth with chicken meatballs, and pangsit rebus, it is sheer perfection.

Bakmi Boy in Jakarta is legendary. I visit the branch in Mayestik that is comfortably squeezed between hundreds of fabric stores (good thinking BB!) We arrive early to beat the mother’s lunchtime frenzy. No painted walls, cute posters or fancy lights. Bakmi Boy is no-frills par excellence or maybe it’s minimalist.  The only careful branding is the sambal on every table that live in recycled coca-cola bottles but my noodles are sublime and I am not surpised! I detect a hint of ginger, cinnamon and that dazzling show stopper, Star Anise, in the prized stock. We opt for a plate of tostada-crisp pangsit, fried wontons, to complete the dish. Grandpa Bakmi Boy, or Bakmi Grandpa, is in the kitchen, leaning over a huge pot of boiling stock and supervising service. No photos I’m told. Grandma Bakmi Boy, or Bakmi Grandma, is the cashier. Maybe the secret of these long-running businesses is a lifelong commitment and I lament the thought of no early retirement from Casa Luna.

Bakmi GM is a noodle institution offering the usual suspects, as well as, some creative interpretations with snappy, efficient service. My favourite is Bakmi Spesial GM Pangsit Goreng but they have an interesting range to choose from. This is fast food noodle bliss with images to select and noodles served in boxes on trays. When I can’t get a flight to Bali on Garuda, and am forced to take another airline (sigh) I head straight for Bakmi GM. Might as well eat and be happy.

Warung Lele, or Wale, in Dago, Bandung, is another noodle nirvana and gets the coveted cute award. But then, this is Bandung, where art is a way of life. Located in a cosy joglo with a view of the rambling countryside, people come from near and far to sip and slurp on their specialties. I opt for the Yamin Baso, my regular of mie ayam with bakso ayam. Finely shredded chicken replaces the glossy chunks of meat with an elegant toss of sliced spring onion alongside the Chinese greens. I notice other dishes, such as, ayam rica-rica with noodles or mushrooms, but I’m a noodle “purist” and only like mine the old-fashioned way. I watch the staff swirling the chilli oil and white pepper through each bowl of noodles with chopsticks, before loading them up with Chinese greens, meat and spring onion. Fastidious attention obviously pays off, because the place is jam-packed. My noodles are glorious and the overall experience is one of the highlights of my recent trip to Bandung (that’s another story).

Bakmi, and bakso, is perhaps Indonesia’s all-time favourite comfort food. Essentially Chinese, it has been embraced by an entire nation and can be found in every corner of the archipelago. And it has wheels! Grobak and now, Go-jek, bring it straight to your door. But the name says it all. It is often branded with a youthful, playful, masculine spirit that suggests even rock stars love mi. So that’s it. I have decided to open my own Bakmi noodle house and call it Bakmi Bowie. Let’s Dance!

-originally published for Garuda’s magazine, March Edition.