Ngelawar Tradition Also Maintains Togetherness

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Contestants of ngelawar at a food festival in Bali Arts Festival, Denpasar.
Contestant of ngelawar at a food festival in Bali Arts Festival
  • CULINARY tradition of Bali helps maintain togetherness and social relationship among families and communities
  • One of which is ngelawar or preparing lawar delicacy held and enjoyed together

Bali has a unique culinary tradition, namely mebat. It is an activity to prepare a dish called lawar while the activity is named ngelawar. The other supporting dishes of this Balinese lawar are tum (spiced minced meat wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed), komoh (clear soup using slices of boiled skin) and urutan (sausage).

Apart from being used for offerings, the lawar dish is also meant to maintain social relations through exchanging or sharing food among closest residents or relatives. By exchanging lawar dishes in that way, each relative will be able to mutually taste the lawar with various flavors. As the saying goes, ingredients may be the same, but different chefs result in different tastes.

The ngelawar tradition in Bali Island is closely related to the Galungan celebration, a Hindu religious celebration every 210 days, and the holding of life cycle ceremonies such as mapandes (tooth filing) and wedding. In essence, the activity of preparing Bali lawar also aims to maintain social relationships where people can gather with friends and family.

Well, specifically for ngelawar related to Galungan Day celebrations, it usually begins with catching a pig in its cage carried out by a group called sekaa mapatung. The next day is continued with the activities of slaughtering the pig and processing the meat until noon.

In general, this Balinese food lawar make use of minced meat such as pork, chicken, entog, seafood, squid or the like. Then, this minced meat is mixed with vegetables. There are many choices of vegetables that can be used such as young jackfruit, young coconut (fleshless) shell, young papaya, long beans, young seedy banana and the like.

Then, the seasoning uses a variety of spices which in Bali are often called as base genep or base gede. This finely ground seasoning is fried, so that it will last for long time and can be used for several days after the making. Meanwhile, meat ingredients are chopped and fried or pig skin is boiled; and vegetables are thinly sliced or chopped and then boiled. Ultimately, seasoning, chopped meat and vegetables are mixed well. Last but not least, do not forget to sprinkle with the squeeze of kaffir lime.

The tradition of ngelawar (making lawar) is thought to have been hereditary among Balinese people, and this delicacy is well known in Indonesia. Beyond for the need of religious or customary ceremonies, lawar can be found in various traditional markets and road side food stalls throughout Bali.

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