Iga Bumbu Bali: Beef Ribs with ‘Balinese’ seasoning

A dish of beef ribs, cooked with Javanese seasoning that pretends to be Balinese. It’s a delicious Javanese interpretation of Balinese food, with fresh herbs and spices.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Bumbu Bali (literally Balinese spices in English) is a popular way of cooking a dish, especially in Java. Any meat, seafood, eggs, tofu or tempeh is delicious when cooked using bumbu Bali

But what exactly is bumbu Bali? No one can really explain it! Bumbu Bali is not a Balinese dish, and doesn’t come from Bali, and for me personally, the dish doesn’t taste like Balinese food. Rather it tastes just like any other Javanese dish. It’s slightly spicy, complex, creamy and of course, a little bit sweet! Why it’s called bumbu Bali remains a mystery to me. 

As usually happens with Indonesian recipes, there are many versions of bumbu Bali. Ingredients can be added, omitted, or substituted.


Variations on the Recipe

For example, one recipe will include galangal, while others will not; or to add creaminess, one recipe will use coconut milk, while others just incorporate candlenuts (some recipes using both); and to sweeten the dish, either kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) or palm sugar will be used, or both! The good thing about cooking this way is, while creating a particular dish, we still have a little freedom to experiment and, most importantly, we can still proclaim that the dish is bumbu Bali even when we run out of one or two ingredients! After all, cooking for oneself is about the freedom of making what we want to eat using available ingredients.

Iga means ‘beef ribs’ in Bahasa Indonesia. Iga bumbu Bali is beef ribs cooked with bumbu Bali. In this recipe, I’ve big red chillies to intensify the flavour without making the dish fiercely spicy. Some additional whole bird’s eye chillies are added towards the end of the cooking, but it’s optional. For the spicy food lovers, whole bird’s eye chillies can be crushed to add extra heat to the dish. Kecap manis, or sweet soy sauce, and a pinch of sugar are also added, but if you are not a fan of sweet dishes, feel free to reduce or omit these. Excluding the sweet soy sauce will make the dish appear more vibrant too. This iga dish is delicious with steamed rice (of course!), boiled potatoes or bread. 

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Iga Bumbu Bali: Beef Ribs with “Balinese” seasoning

Iga Bumbu Bali: Beef Ribs with ‘Balinese’ seasoning

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Beef & Lamb
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


Iga bumbu Bali is a dish of beef ribs, cooked with Javanese seasoning that pretends to be Balinese. It’s a delicious Javanese interpretation of Balinese food, with fresh herbs and spices.


  • 500 gr beef ribs, washed thoroughly
  • 2 chilies, big red, chopped
  • 8 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 3 candlenuts, chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised, knotted
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce (optional)
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 5 whole chilies, bird’s eye (optional)
  • 500 ml water


  1. Blend into fine paste: big red chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger and candlenuts.
  2. Heat the cooking oil over medium high heat.
  3. Sauté the spice paste, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant, around 4 minutes.

    sauté the spice paste

  4. Add the beef ribs and stir well.

    Add the beef ribs.

  5. Add water, salt, sugar, and sweet soy sauce, and bring to boil.

    bring to boil

  6. Once it boils: reduce the flame to medium heat and simmer the beef for around 45-50 minutes, until the beef is tender and the gravy has reduced and thickened. 
  7. 3 minutes before the cooking is done, add the whole bird’s eye chilies.
  8. Serve!

    Iga Bumbu Bali is ready


  • The beef ribs can be substituted with other proteins, but the cooking time needs to be adjusted accordingly. 

Keywords: Javanese, candlenuts, non-spicy, one-pot meals

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