A creative way to explore Balinese life, culture and tradition is through learning about its food, cooking and culinary ways. Taking cooking classes is becoming a popular holiday activity and for good reason. It’s a great way of taking something home other than a mere souvenir. In and around Candidasa, in East Bali, a number of hotels and restaurants are offering cookery classes each with its unique twist. Enter Alila Manggis who go a step further by providing the ‘food for your skin’ cooking tuition.
In the short space of time of arriving in Bali, taking one look at the unblemished skin of the local people, it did have me wondering how they kept their skin and hair so smooth and healthy. So a chance to discover the cultural secrets which are often just passed on by word of mouth at Alila, was eagerly jumped on. The cooking experience takes place in Alila’s organic garden which is just a 10 minute drive away by car, hidden below the foothills of Mount Agung and overlooking the sea. The organic beauty cooking lesson begins with the nourishing of the stomach with a breakfast served in a purpose built on site bale overlooking the rice terraces. As you tuck in, you can watch the farmers already at work protecting their rice crop from birds.
With food finished, it was time to get dirty with this hands on course. My two beauty therapists Sari and Marini showed me some of the ingredients they had foraged from the gardens. Kenkur root (white ginger), turmeric, lime, and lemongrass, to name a few.
Beauty truly starts from within as it did in our class. We prepared a drink called Jamu Beras Kenchur made of ground rice, lime juice and rock sugar. All the ingredients bar sugar are mixed together and made into a paste and strained through a muslin cloth before being drunk with sugar to taste. The kenkur is good for strength and stamina I’m told and relieves headaches as well as flu symptoms. The Balinese are big fans of prevention so take a dose of the stuff in the morning with a raw egg yolk.
The organic Kusumba Seasalt bath salt is great to soothe tired feet and cracked heels. Most of the ingredients used to make this can be found in the herbs and spices cabinet like cinnamon, cloves, star anise and lime leaf. And for a pure indulgent treat that won’t break the bank, the Lular body scrub was a delight to make and experience. With the help of Sari, I mixed coffee and a little water into a paste and proceeded to have it rubbed on my skin for two minutes followed by grated carrots for a further two. Once washed off with warm water, coconut oil was massaged into the skin leaving it silky smooth and smelling divine. And just when I thought the class was over, I was whisked back over to the hut to have a facial. Pure bliss.