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

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 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.

The Ubud Organic Movement

Never before has the word “organic” been more powerful in Ubud. Now a raw, vegan, fresh food destination, Ubud is spearheading the global “green” phenomena with world-class establishments dishing up their own versions of all that is healthy, chemical-free and locally grown.

Bali Buda has been serving vegetarian food for as long as I remember and have been a force behind the island-wide organic movement. They have so many tasty favourites, a range of gluten-free, raw cakes, breads and a health-food store alongside. If you are seeking anything organic, this is where you will find it.

Established in 2011, Alchemy is one of Bali’s first raw, vegan cafés. Salads bowls are the mainstay and are piled high in generous mountains of goodness alongside other hearty raw fare and smoothies in every colour. But one of their greatest attractions, well for me anyway, are their creamy, dreamy, delicious raw desserts. “We created Alchemy with the intention of bringing inner healing and transformation to Ubud’s visitors and residents. Our products and menu promote consciousness and wellbeing for all of earth’s inhabitants” state the glowing owners, Shanti and Elena.

Sari Organik is an Ubud institution and is located down a winding path in the middle of the rice fields behind the Pura Dalem. Fruits and vegetables are grown on site and dished up in all sorts of vegetarian ways, in fact, you can even pick them yourself. Lounge on comfy cushions, munch on organic nasi campur and enjoy an expansive view over the Tjampuhan ridge and a never-ending sea of green.

The new Clear Cafe is now sitting pretty in a bamboo treehouse-chic river-view abode in Tjampuhan. Sit back, relax , sip on kambucha and eat raw Pad Thai, while overlooking the ancient temple, Pura Gunung Lebah, that lies below. Their philosophy is “eat the food you wish to be” and if you can’t decide on that one, they will certainly lead you to a path of good, clean health. Their creative menu includes “Raw and Macro”, “World Flavors” and “Tonics and Elixers”.

The Elephant in Sanggingan is a relatively new organic kid on the block but already has a enthusiastic following. Brandishing “earth friendly” food, they serve elegant, beautifully colourful renditions of classics, such as homemade potato gnocchi, alongside crisp Vietnamese pancakes and many new creations in a breezy eco-bohemian space on the edge of a tropical jungle.

Moksa. Pic by Katie from

Moksa. Pic by Katie from

Moksa is another newbie that is located near Sayan. Led by chef extraordinaire, Made Runatha, they serve just about the finest raw, organic, plant-based food this side of the equator. Produce from their extensive onsite permaculture garden is hand-picked and beautifully presented in soups, salads, desserts and more. If you’re spoiled for choice, you can graze on a Moksa sampler plate. And speaking of plates, theirs are straight from the nearby Gaya ceramics kiln.

Taksu is another organic eatery lead by Chef Arif Springs. “Healthy eating isn’t about discipline, it’s about celebrating life. The flavour and freshness of in-season produce is a joy for the cook and for his guest.” Says Springs. Taksu grows most of its produce in their aquaponic gardens that surround the café and guests are invited to wander through this living wonderland before tucking into a raw feast.

Locavore is considered Ubud’s most exciting dining establishment. Run by Eelke Plasjmeijer and Ray Adriansyah, they are fierce advocates of seasonal, local produce, as suggested in their mantra “go local or go home”. The meat they use is only from ethically fed animals with much of their organic and chemical-free produce coming from their own farm. Each course (you can choose 5 or 7) is a finely hand-crafted work of art and you can taste their integrity with every outstanding bite. By the way, don’t forget to try their cocktails!


Bambu Indah at Slow Food Bali. Photo by Mila Shwaiko


Bambu Indah at Slow Food Bali. Photo by Mila Shwaiko

Healthy and raw delicacies from Bambu Indah at Slow Food Bali. Photo by Mila Shwaiko


Fresh greens from Bambu Indah! Photo by Mila Shwaiko


Bambu Indah is a sustainable boutique hotel with charming teak grass-rooved cabins set in a lush Tarzan-meets-Jane garden, complete with swinging tree rope and a breathtaking view across the Ayung valley. Their lofty bamboo restaurant serves organic Indonesian food par excellence with an ever-changing seasonal menu and the ingredients are plucked straight from their sprawling garden.

The Fivelements Wellness Retreat is one of Bali’s award-winning eco-friendly bamboo spa resorts with an acclaimed riverside café that presents innovative, organic, raw food with a focus on Indonesian flavours. The chef at Bisma Eight’s restaurant, Copper, believes in “waste not, want not” and creates soulful, organic artisan food using produce from their garden with a low waste philosophy. Quail with puffed rice and handpicked rosella, pumpkin with bocconcini and local purslane and fresh herb-based drinks are some of their highlights.

Kafe and the Garden Café at the Yoga Barn are vegetarian, vegan, wholefood, raw food nirvanas with detox and ayurveda menus for those who are seeking post-yoga cleansing. The food and beverages at both places reflect the owners’ dedication to a healthy lifestyle, including a refusal to sell soft drinks. Bravo! Using mainly Bali harvested chemical-free & organic produce, the kitchen produces an exceptional variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for the healthy-minded traveller.

Wander down Ubud’s laneways and you will find many more organic eateries. Cashew milk, wheatgrass shots, green coconut juice, tempe, kambucha, smoothie bowls, chia seeds and organic rice are on nearly every menu in town. Even Casa Luna has it’s fair share of organic meals together with health tonics that are guaranteed to fine-tune the mind, body and soul.

And then there are the dedicated producers who are creating all this world-class organic food. That’s a whole other story and you can meet these maestros at the 2016 Ubud Food Festival. With a heightened fervour for chemical-free, non-GMO produce, the hope is that maybe Bali will once again return to being a fully organic island. This is our mantra and it’s not such an impossible dream because these days, anything can happen. And does.