Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi…
Today is Nyepi Day, or the Day of Silence, in Bali.
Effectively, it’s Balinese New Year, but as opposed to most other New Years, this one is ushered in with deep silence. In fact, Nyepi, means “to keep silent”- and that’s exactly what the island does…keep silent. Shops are closed, the airport is closed, there are no cars, motorbikes, or people on the streets. Windows are covered, lights are dimmed or not turned on at all.
The idea behind this silence is that when the ogres fly over Bali, they won’t see any movement and, at night, they’ll see nothing but darkness, so won’t stop.
It’s in contrast to the day before, when as much noise as possible is made in order to scare away the evil spirits. These are symbolised by huge ogoh-ogohs- giant statues made of (usually) bamboo and paper, and burnt on the day before Nyepi.
I’ve never been there for Nyepi Day itself, but have flown out the day before. It falls on the day after the dark moon of the autumn equinox (southern hemisphere).
Anyways, all of this is leading me into a post about Nasi Campur- or Balinese mixed rice.
Essentially this is a mound of steamed rice surrounded by small portions of a meat dish, some vegetables, perhaps egg or satay, sambal. There’s no rhyme or reason to it- and it will differ from place to place.
We had a great one last weekend at TerasBali.
It consisted of a dollop of fragrant, tender babi guling (roasted pork…but not as you know it), a couple of sticks of sate sapi (beef satay) with rich nutty sauce, urap sayuran (steamed vegetable salad with spiced grated coconut), a Balinese fried egg and sambal matah (lemongrass chilli salsa).
I’m doing my own version tonight.
We’ll be having beef rendang (I’ll blog the recipe separately), a version of sayur urab that I learnt at Bumi Bali and two sambals- the sambal goreng I’ll serve on the side, and the tomato sambal that I’ll serve with boiled eggs.
In Janet De Neefe’s Balinese masterpiece Bali- The Food of My Island Home, she suggests that this sambal will turn any meat, fish or eggs into a masterpiece. It does…and it’s well worth trying…so here it is:
What you need…
- 4 long red chilli (seeded)
- 2-3 small red chillies
- 3 red shallots
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- slice of shrimp paste (belacan)* equiv to 1 teaspoon
- 4 candlenuts*
- seat salt
- 80ml vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)
- fried shallots and lime wedges to serve
What you do with it…
Blitz it all (except the oil and garnishes) until it looks like a chunky salsa.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat, and fry the soupy mix until it reduces by nearly half. This will take about 5 minutes, but you’ll know it’s done when the oil rises to the surface. Don’t be afraid to add more oil if it looks a little sad and dry.
* for notes on the ingredients, check out this post.