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Lawar Salad

with Kusamba Salt Bali, Indonesia

Kusamba salt not only enhances the taste of a dish, but adds its own flavour profile to Balinese dishes that are typically spicy and salty.

Mangku Rna Leader of the Merta Segara Cooperative

About Mangku

Mr. Mangku Rna and his wife have been producing salt everyday, since 1970, on Kusamba beach. They are amongst the last 14 families that produce salt using this traditional technique.

Salt, is not just salt. Too often we overlook certain items in our pantry, putting more importance on star ingredients; such as the protein element of a dish or seasonal produce, however the condiments and spices that we use can transform a dish to another level and can contain many minerals beneficial to our health. Due to the traditional production process of Kusamba salt, it is high in iodine and gives dishes a different flavour complex.

The production of Kusamba salt is very labour intensive. The process starts by leveling the volcanic black sand with rakes. Sea water is carried, across the shoulders, in large pails and sprayed over the leveled sand. A series of sun drying and filtering processes are then used to create Kusamba salt, which is so pure that it shines brilliant white.

5 years ago an alternative salt producer set up in Kusamba and is able to sell their product at a lower price due to the industrialized production. It is an inferior product to the traditional Kusamba salt, however the same name is able to be used as it is produced in the same region. This has dramatically affected the market of the traditional Kusamba salt, which was once Bali’s number one prized salt. Unable to sell at a premium price, Kusamba salt now has an uncertain future. Young people are not attracted to the traditional work, which now does not provide an attractive income and requires high level of manual labour.

Mr Mangku is the leader of the Merta Segara Cooperative, which was developed to assist with marketing of the Kusamba salt. Although he is now too old to carry the 50 pails of water required daily, Mr Magnku loves his work and hopes that Kusamba salt will continue to give dishes a touch of Bali for many years to come.

The recipe

Typically served during Balinese celebrations, Lawar literally means “thinly sliced”. It accompanies other celebratory meat dishes such as babi guling (suckling pig).

Ingredients - serves 6

  • Salad

    • 3 cups snake beans, cut in 2cm slices
    • 250 g chicken mince
    • 1 fresh coconut
    • 1/2 lime, juiced
    • 2 bay leaves
  • Spice paste

    • 2 large red chillies
    • 5cm ginger, peeled and chopped
    • 20 g galangal (kencur), chopped
    • 2 5cm pieces fresh tumeric, chopped
    • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
    • 8 shallots, chopped
    • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
    • 3 candlenuts, chopped (can be substituted with handful of cashews)
    • 2 Tbsp palm sugar, grated
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves
    • 3 tsp black peppercorns
    • 3 tsp white peppercorns
    • 1 Tbsp roasted shrimp paste
    • Kusamba salt to taste (can be substituted for good quality sea salt flakes)
    • 100 ml canola oil


    • 1) Break open the coconut with the back edge of a heavy knife. Toast under the grill until it has browned on edges and has dried slightly. Grate or shave it and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
    • 2) Chop all the ingredients for the spice paste very finely and combine in a mortar and pestle and pound to paste. Alternatively you can use a blender, however the same consistency will not be achieved.
    • 3) Fry the spice paste in 2 tbsp of oil for about 3 minutes. Add 2 finely chopped dry bay leaves, mix well and set aside.
    • 4) Break the chicken mince into smaller pieces as adding it to a pot of salted boiling water, and cook for about 5 minutes or until it is cooked through. Break up any large chunks with a spoon to allow for even cooking.
    • 5) When cooked, remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
    • 6) Bring the same water to a rapid boil and add the chopped snake beans. Blanch for about 2 minutes, until the beans are vibrant green in colour but are not soft, you want the beans to be crunchy.
    • 7) Remove and cool in cold water to stop cooking. Drain the beans and then add to the chicken.
    • 8) Add the spice paste to the beans and chicken and mix thoroughly with your hands. Mix through half of the shaved coconut and the juice of half a lime.

      Serve on a banana leaf (or plate), sprinkle with remaining shaved coconut and serve with steamed rice and perhaps a babi guling or your Christmas ham.

Nutrition value

The human body needs a very small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals.

Dr. Marta Guasch-Ferré Dietician and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology

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