Bali Bali CMB rustling up authentic Indonesian fare

Jul 08 2021. views 168

Filling a much-needed void for authentic Indonesian cuisine in Colombo’s culinary landscape, Chef Farida Gultom and Alec Van Cuylemberg have launched Bali Bali CMB.

A native of Indonesia, Farida who is living in Sri Lanka has been cooking since her childhood. Encouraged to experiment with spices and flavours by her mother and grandmother Farida has the gift of being able to rustle up tasty authentic Indonesian cuisine. 

Explaining why they chose the name Bali Bali CMB, co-founder Alex says “Most Sri  Lankans have travelled to Bali  and they are familiar with the cuisine, especially the street food in Bali so it made sense to come up with a name that is catchy and has an association to the food we are creating.”

Farida started cooking what she knows best, Indonesian cuisine, first for her close friends who all loved her preparations. Farida decided to avail her culinary creations to the rest of Colombo and after being encouraged by Alec who traces his roots to the food industry both here and in the US, they both decided to make it a business venture and thus Bali Bali CMB was born.

Based in Wellawatte, Farida starts her day with a visit to Colpetty Market where she sources the freshest ingredients she can find. She uses only halal meat in her preparations, does not cut corners and believes that using fresh produce has a marked difference in the quality of food that is being served. She is also available for private catering orders and can cater for up to 20 guests.

When I saw Bali Bali CMB popping up on my Instagram I thought I had to review it in the interests of our readers. I get ribbed by my family for daring to try anything in the name of work so yet again I came off one of my many diets to give Bali Bali CMB a try. 

Delivered by Pick Me, I was indeed spoilt for choice to receive four different dishes all served in boxes hence the word Kotak which follows all the names of their dishes. Beef Rendang Kotak, Sea food Mee Goreng Kotak, Beef Mee Goreng Kotak and Chicken Sumatra Kotak.

There was enough to go around for my family of three and we all tucked in with much gusto and suffice to say none of us was disappointed. The dishes by Bali Bali CMB reminded us of some great food experiences we had had in Indonesia in the past.

Mee Goreng which simply translates as fried noodles in Malay and Bahasa Indonesia lived up to my expectations. The noodles were slightly springy and coated in a spicy sauce with a hint of sweetness probably from a generous dollop of Kecap Manis which is a soy sauce unique to Indonesia but with sweeter notes to it. Both the seafood and beef mee goreng had generous portions of meat which was complemented with the right balance of vegetables. 

One of my favourite South-East Asian dishes is Beef Rendang. Simmered for hours in coconut milk with lemongrass, galangal and chillies, the thick gravy and tender pieces of meat is simply heavenly. Bali Bali CMB’s beef rendang was good. It was served with steamed rice, sambal lja, sambal balado (both sans shrimp paste), sautéed beans, julienned carrot, sliced cucumber and a perekedel which is a spiced potato patty. I would have been happy with the beef, rice and sambals but for those who prefer healthier options, the fresh veggies are really an added bonus given the size of the box and the fair pricing.

If you are hankering after a non-Sri Lankan chicken curry then Bali Bali CMB’s Chicken Sumatra Kotek is a worthy contender. Also called Gulai Ayam, this aromatic curry is cooked with the same ingredients as the Rendang. This too came with the accompaniments mentioned in the beef rendang.

Portion wise, Bali Bali CMB scores highly as each box would be ample if you eat like a bird. That said, if you have a healthy appetite like me and like to indulge in leftovers from the night before then one box is just ideal.

Still finding their feet in the business world, Bali Bali CMB are a keen duo who aim to please their customers with their aromatic and tasty cuisine.  They currently require customers to pre-order and will soon be on PickMe Food, Uber Eats and AppiGo.

Orders can be made via IG @balibalicmb



Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Features Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno


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