The taste of a distant past sweet potato rice

Most of the older Balinese generation has tried cacah sela rice. It is rice mixed with sweet potato that has been grated and sundried before being steamed with the rice. In the olden days, nasi cacah sela was a way to conserve rice stocks in times of drought or war. The sight of grated sweet potato and grated cassava sun-drying on bamboo trays placed on the ground in front of the villagers’ homes was quite common back then.

Nowadays, cacah sela rice exists mainly in the tales old people tell their youngsters to strengthen their character. Those who really crave the taste of this unique dish can head to one of several food stalls that serve the contemporary version of nasi cacah sela. In this version, the grated sweet potato is mixed and steamed with rice without being sundried first. It tastes similar to the old version: sweet and savory.

One of the stalls that sells sweet potato rice lies close to the State Polytechnic of Bali on Jl. Uluwatu, Ungasan. Adjacent to it is a “modern” restaurant in terms of food, as well as building. The cacah sela rice stall sells local food, such as steamed rice, ketupat (rice cake) and sweet potato rice. The side dishes offered vary, from vegetables, to gorengan (fried snacks), fish or meat, all separated in plastic wrap.

Each is sold at Rp 1,000 (8 US cents). In addition, the favorite item on the menu there is fish or pork satay. This is why the 5 x 15 meter-food stall is filled with the smell from the griller. The smoke goes directly into the neighboring modern restaurant, from which it is only separated by a 1.5-meter wall. The sweet potato rice is served in packs and eaten on plaited rattan plates. Customers can take the side dishes directly from the table.

For spicy food lovers, a mouthwatering tomato sambal (spicy condiment) is available. Expatriates who have stayed on the island for a while are fond of the pork satay. Ibu Agus is the person behind the stall. The unnamed eating place was established on a vacant plot of land four years ago, even before the restaurant next to it. Ibu Agus can sell 25 packs of rice a day, made out of one kilogram of sweet potato and 1.5 kg of rice.

Ibu Agus’ stall opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Its proximity to the polytechnic sees college students, employees and even expatriates flock there as her customers. Food is available to take away or eat in, as Ibu Agus has two large tables able to seat 10 people each. A serving of sweet potato rice is sold for Rp 3,000, excluding any side dishes. Food lovers also have several options of fresh fruit for dessert. The traditional stall is a must-try place when visiting southern Bali.

source :bali daily

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