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Exploring the Rice Fields of Bali (and a Yummy Recipe!)

You’ve probably eaten rice as part of a meal sometime. It’s the main ingredient in many foods from around the world like Japanese sushi, Spanish paella, and Italian risotto. But in Bali, Indonesia, rice is a meaningful part of the culture in addition to the yummy dishes it provides.

Nasi goreng imageIn Bali, you can find all kinds of rice! White rice. Red rice. Black rice. Fried rice. Sticky rice. Vegetables with rice. Rice Bubbles cereal. Rice pudding. And one of the most delicious: Nasi goreng; a traditional dish of fried rice, vegetables, and meat skewers. Everyone has rice with just about every meal.

But where does all this rice come from?

It starts in the terraced fields (or paddies) of different heights. Farmers use farming tools, like a plow pulled by a water buffalo, to help prepare the ground and create rows for rice seeds to be planted. Then, a system called Subak is used to help water travel to all parts of the paddy through small tunnels and channels. And paddies love to be flooded for rice to grow! This system is so special in Bali that it is respected by people all over the world. Farmers work hard in the mud to finish planting and cultivating their rice crops. The fields are closely watched for four to five months (often to keep pesky birds away from eating the rice) until they are ready for harvest.

At harvest time, women of the local villages pick and gather the rice. They use sickles, sieves, and baskets to help them as well as a process called threshing, which is beating the rice stalks they’ve picked to shake the rice grains free. It is hard work out in the fields so the women wear clothes that not only protect them from harvesting activity but also the strong, hot sun.

Once the rice has been harvested, farmers lead groups of ducks from paddy to paddy to eat leftover rice and bugs to clean up for the next time the cycle starts all over again.

Get your own taste of Bali with the recipe below!

Nasi goreng with fried egg

Nasi Goreng Recipe

Recipe originally published here: nasi goreng recipe on


  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • cooking spray
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green chile peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 pound peeled and deveined prawns
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (Indonesian kecap manis)


  1. Bring the rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Spread onto a baking sheet, and refrigerate 2 hours until cold.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour eggs into hot skillet. Cook until the eggs begin to set, lifting up the edges of the set eggs to allow the uncooked egg to contact the hot pan, about 1 minute. Flip omelet in one piece and cook until fully set, about 30 seconds. Slice omelet into 1/2 inch strips.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Stir in the onion, leek, garlic, and chile peppers. Cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, prawns, coriander, and cumin, mixing well. Cook and stir for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the cold rice, sweet soy sauce, and omelet strips; cook until shrimp are bright pink and chicken is no longer pink in the center, 3 to 5 minutes.