Posted on Thursday, 11th September 2008
One of the wonderful things about Bali is that despite having all the trappings of a modern tourist spot, in about a five minute walk it’s also possible to find yourself submerged in luscious green rice fields that spread on for miles. In the midst of one of these rice fields was Sari Organic, an organic farming venture that started about five years ago to service the needs of both local businesses and individuals. Its farming concept was based on ‘family-size’ farms, which consequently meant its business philosophy also provided jobs to local families. Over the years, Sari discovered that there was a genuine demand for organic produce in and around Ubud, and it now recruits and provides incomes to some 15 families.
For more immediate eating needs, there is also their organic restaurant, Warung Bodag Maliah. The restaurant is a two storey building, with the ground floor serving as the kitchen and the first floor as the dining area to allow you a wonderful elevated perspective of the rice fields. It’s an incredibly relaxed setting. The restaurant is windowless to allow in a gentle cool breeze and there are a range of seating choices; tables as well as cushioned platform seating areas. However if your fancy was to simply stretch out and snuggle up with a book on one of their benches as I saw one couple doing, this was also possible.
I started my visit at Bodag Maliah with a kombucha (kambucha) tea. Kombucha is a mushroom and is touted for its many therapeutic attributes, including use as a digestion aid. To make the tea, it’s necessary to ferment it for a month with large quantities of sugar. The kombucha is a live fungus so needs the sugar in order to stay alive during the fermentation. The restaurant used a black tea although others could also be used. The kombucha tea served icy cold was incredibly refreshing, and given the sugar used in the fermentation, was rather sweet with a slightly vinegary and sparkling aftertaste.
The menu was a simple one. With lots of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, raw soups, salads and Indonesian stir fries, it was a true vegetarian’s delight although chicken was also on offer. Tofu was also plentiful on the menu, and from my tour of the kitchen was all homemade. For lunch, a Thai soup starter from the raw soup selections. The soup base was made from blended cashew nuts and coconut milk, and served with finely chopped mushrooms, peppers and cucumber. It was delicate and pleasant tasting but lacked the creaminess and depth of flavour of standard Thai fare.
Next was the Sari salad which I couldn’t resist. The Sari salad was basically a “choose your own salad” from the vegetable patch at the foot of the stairs to the restaurant. I spent some 15 minutes in the herb and vegetable garden selecting my lunch, the fragrance of each of my choices permeating my senses as I picked each one. Could anything possibly be fresher? The salad came with a choice of homemade dressings. My choice, tahini, was delicately pleasant and fresh tasting but again lacked creaminess or richness.
A standard dish cost on average about 25,000 Rupiah (about £1.50), and my soup, salad and drink came to around 50,000 Rupiah, highly reasonable when you consider the quality of the ingredients and the gentle, respectful way with which the produce had been farmed. But most special of all was the setting: the gentle relaxed interior of the restaurant surrounded by luscious green scenery as far as the eye could see. After lunch I came away feeling cleansed and healthy. In the Balinese language, Bodag Maliah translates as the “Overflowing Basket” and it’s easy to see why.
Warung Bodag Maliah (at Sari Organic):
Subak Sok Wayah (off Jalan Raya),
Tel: +62 (0)361 780 1839
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