Gifts That Give Back 2021

It’s the time to give and receive. Our annual holiday gift guide is here with a purpose. You can not only purchase unique products for your family, colleagues and loved ones, but make a difference by giving back to a social or environment cause. These wonderful companies are taking initiative to support local causes, whether they are related to the health and wellness, uplifting artisans, building communities, or even assisting rescue dogs. So, this year, make a decision to shop differently, and build a better world, together. You can purchase all of these products online and have them delivered straight to your doorstep.

Check out the full list below…

Jewelry That Uplift Artisans $30

This beaded cuff made with recycled Kantha textile beads suspended within a frame of gold metallic beads will add plenty of color to your holiday party. World Finds is an ethical brand that has beautiful designs with meaningful messages. Their Cause Braclets support 15 different charities such as teachers, animals, coral reefs, etc. (so you can personalize it to your receiver’s interest); Kantha Necklaces, made from discarded furniture pieces covered in sari and Kantha remnants; and Kantha Connection bracelets highlight attributes such as compassion, creativity, and unity. World Finds contemporary accessories are design in Chicago and hand made in India. They give woman artisan jobs, a source of income, and a means of preserving traditional crafts and art forms.

NOVICA gives back to artisans
NOVICA subscription boxes are filled with handmade surprises from around the world.

Fair Trade Box $59.99

NOVICA.com, the world’s largest online impact marketplace which supports indigenous artisans worldwide, just launched the first ever fully-customizable subscription called the “Undiscovered Box” which delivers handmade and fair-trade artisan treasures from around the globe – including options for gifts, jewelry, accessories, and decor from a specific nation. The seasonal, quarterly box lets you travel to a new nation by experiencing its hidden gems, and preserves disappearing arts in nations around the world by showcasing hidden craft skills passed down through generations. Unlike any other subscription box in the marketplace, each customer can select their most beloved (5) products from a highly curated selection, including gender-neutral options.  

give a greeting card that gives back
Cardology greeting cards support elderly care.

Pop Up Greeting Card For The Community $13

Cardology’s colorful and intricate 3-D hand-assembled pop up cards are super cute to send over the holidays. Made with sustainably sourced paper, 10% of profits go to charities, including Age UK, that cares for elderly in the community, and the Woodland Trust, who plant trees with the money. Another unique way they give back is through the village of Lover in the county of Wiltshire. People from all over the world come here to send a special love letter marked with a romantic cachet stamp. After losing their post office, the villagers raised money for their community to build new facilities for young children, families, professionals and retired people within the parish, by sending 8000 hand written valentine’s Day cards, including those by Cardology.

give to end childhood hunger
All proceeds from Bake Away cookbook go to No Kid Hungry.

Cookbook to End Child Hunger $24

Bakers will be happy to receive a copy of the new cookbook – Bake Away: Twenty Recipes Capturing the Spirit of Creativity, Experience, and Expression, filled with dessert recipes and colorful pictures. Teen philanthropist and author Sahana Vij created Bake Away, a cookbook to raise money for No Kid Hungry, with all proceeds going to end childhood hunger and poverty in America. Vij takes readers on a journey through her travels and inspirations as a baker, starting with a visit to see her cousins in Atlanta, where she decided to make a New York-style blueberry cheesecake.

give the gift of positive reminders
Custom Neon lights give back to charities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Be The Change Neon Light $250

College kids and young adults will love the fun and cool ‘signs of change’ LED Custom Neon signs with remote controlled ambient lighting. Designed as symbols for the systematic change that needs to happen in our communities and world, each sign emits positive messages such as ‘Be the change, A lover and a fighter, and Darling you’re pure gold.’

100% of the profits from ‘signs of change’ LED neon sign purchases give back to a corresponding charity. These include: Black Girls Smile to address mental health among African-American girls, teens and young women; founded with the mission of helping them with mental health issues; Blueprint for Allis that strives to create an inclusive society among young people; and Children’s Ground that works with Aboriginal communities in Australia.

wine gives back to cancer
Teneral Cellars wines donates to women’s health causes.

Wine For Women’s Health $96

Teneral Cellars is creating a social movement by encouraging conversations and women’s empowerment through exceptional wine and thought-provoking experiences. The brand is available exclusively online. It is also the only all-woman-owned digital wine company that donates 10% of profits to women’s causes, such as the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Teneral Cellars’ Healthy Women, Healthy World Collection features a trio of wines (Bordeaux blend, dry Petit Sarah, fruity white) that bring attention to reproductive, heart, and breast health issues that affect millions of women globally. 

Raise a glass and keep the conversation going!

Satin Tea Mug For Cancer Surviors $30

This holiday season, gift your friends organic teas that support wellness, strengthen immunity, help reduce stress. Besides award-winning handcrafted loose leaf teas, The Tea Spot also sells beautiful tea infusers, tea mugs, tea tumblers, teapots with infusers, and Steepware® modern teaware. The Satin Tea Mug with a stainless steel tea filter and a saucer which doubles as a lid, has a beautifully glazed satin finish, in colors inspired by nature. And the company, a Boulder, Colorado-based woman owned and operated business, donates 10% of all profits in-kind to cancer survivors and community wellness programs.

gift earrings
Aria Design Co raises awareness and funds for mental health.

Earrings for Mental Health $32

New Zealand based Arias Design Co sells artisan earrings with eco friendly polymer clay and other materials. The lightweight, hypoallergenic and delicate hand painted earrings are inspired by Van Gogh’s famous sunflowers. But there are many other fashionable designs to choose from. The sole purpose of Arias is to support better mental health in the community under their Lend An Ear campaign. Arias donates 20% of its profits to the Mental Health Foundation and works closely with them to support their mission.

give green vodka
360 Vodka gives to environmental organizations.

Eco-Friendly Vodka $30

Skip the duty free lines and liquor stores. If you have a cocktail aficionado on your list, get them a bottle of 360 Vodka – the world’s first eco-friendly vodka that is good for the planet, as it is to drink. The American-made and American-owned premium vodka is made using locally-sourced midwestern corn and is naturally gluten-free. Six-times distilled and six-times filtered, 360 Vodka is smooth, clean, green, and delicious. It comes in unique flavors like glazed donut, BBQ, watermelon and Georgia peach. Return the bottle closures for reuse through the brand’s “Close The Loop” program. 360 Vodka also makes donations to environmental organizations and other local charities. The brand promotes several other green initiatives through recycling, paper reduction, and purchasing. 360 Vodka can be purchase online through Drizly.

give back to rescues
Pupups collars and leashes help dogs in shelters.

Collars That Help Shelter Dogs $28

Don’t forget to buy a gift for your four-legged family members too. Pupups line of eco friendly, reusable and waterproof collars and leashes are colorful, practical, and affordable for all dog lovers. They also come in unique styles you won’t find anywhere else. All products are packaged in an eco-friendly reusable case that can be used for doggy bags, treats, or anything else. Pupups is a woman-owned, Seattle-based business. The founder creates each design herself using the finest materials for exceptional durability, easy clean-up (just rinse), and colorfastness. This holiday season, Pupups is donating a collar to a rescue or shelter dog for every collar sold. Go fetch one for every dog lover in your neighborhood!

gift for hearts
Big Heart Candle Co. donate to American Heart Association.

Candles For Good Hearts $36

Give the gift of good scent, while giving back to support heart health research and education. All Big Heart Candle Company candles are chemical-free, pesticide-free, fertilizer-free, carcinogen-free. They also have wooden wicks sourced from an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified mill. Phthalate-free and candle-safe essential oils are used for formulating the scents. Moreover, 10% of all Big Heart Candle Company profits give back to the American Heart Association, that brings awareness to the importance of heart health. 

7 Places In Bali Can Make You A Better Person

Many travelers claim that the spirit of Bali has the power to seep into your unconscious mind and radically change your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. If you are capable of finding a sense of awe in watching colored puffs of incense rise from small flower offerings and centuries-old Balinese temples scattered throughout stunning natural settings, then no other place on this planet is more ideal for you than Bali. There is a good chance that if you visit these places in Bali, you may go back home as a better person.

The Holy Waters of Gunung Kawi Sebatu – Ubud

This temple is unique and infrequently visited. Lush and scenic, it is perched upon a forested hillside drawing water from holy mountain spring-fed water sources. It was embellished with statues, ornamental fish ponds, water shrines, and bathing spots around the temple complex. You can think of the Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple as one of the finest tranquil and soothing retreats that stands far away from the busy streets and the bustle of Ubud. From here, go to the Pura Dalem Pingit, which is revered as a purification spot among the Balinese Hindus.

Pyramids in Sea – Semeti Beach

The test of this place is that to reach the vantage point for a phenomenal view, you will have to cross an extremely rough and rocky path on Semeti Beach. The stones on this beach share an uncanny resemblance with the crystal box in planet Krypton. But after you reach there, you will be able to see pyramid-like rocks rooted in the sea and crossing these towards your vantage point will call on a lot of your conviction and perseverance.

Bali Spirit Festival – Ubud

This is an annual event taking place in March. Yoga practitioners and instructors from Bali and all around the world, artists, dancers and musicians performing colorful concerts gather for this event. Participate in yoga workshops, Dharma Fairs that have health bazaars and organic food stalls. The stage acts as the center of attraction and many world musicians keep up the vibe of the celebrations throughout the day.

An Almost Private Island – Gili

Some of the Gili Islands are so isolated that they will feel like your own private island! So, if you’re looking for a place to self-exploration and retrospect whilst island-hopping in Lombok, then the white sandy shores of the Gilis are made for you. Here, you can sunbathe, swim, snorkel or even explore the marine life around the breathtaking coral reefs. Gili is just one of many beautiful islands that scatter the seas around Bali. If you wish to explore these tropicals paradises, companies like Jettly’s private jet rentals can provide you with your own plane so you can hop from island to island.

Magic Tree in Trunyan Village – Kintamani

This is an ancient and remote village on a Balinese lakeside which is known for odd burial rites and a magic tree. The magic tree, locally known as Taru Menyan, grows in this village’s open-burial cemetery and releases a strongly fragrant resin which interestingly neutralizes the odors coming from the decomposing dead bodies. The silence of this remote area coupled with the chilling sight of graveyard skulls and bones will most likely unnerve you, but your close encounter with the ancient and upheld traditions of this place will teach you to be accepting.

Battles of Tenganan Pegringsingan – Candidasa

The old Balinese village is only a 15-minutes north of Jalan Raya Candidasa road. The age-old tradition of the Perang Pandan ‘battles’ is a highlight event of this place and is unique to only this village. This ritual is actually dedicated to the Hindu Mythology god of war and sky, Indra. The battles entail friendly duels between male villagers who are each armed with a rattan shield and a tied packet of the thorny pandan leaves. This ritual highlights their sportsman’s spirit and comradeship.

The Twin and Spiritual Gitgit Waterfalls – North Bali

Gitgit is Bali’s most popular waterfall that is both a beautiful natural attraction and an important spiritual destination for visitors. You will be able to reach its base after a few minutes trek by foot, after which you can enjoy the tall twin spouts that constantly crash into a rocky pool. For spiritual travelers, another bonus waterfall awaits near Gitgit that can be reached via forested pathways adorned with cacao trees, called the Jembong waterfall, which is considered to be a place for spiritual purifications and healing.

There are a lot of unexplored and unconventional places in Bali that have a completely different energy than the regular tourist places. So, coming here and exploring something that may not be on your regular itinerary can make you see things, think of them and feel their significance like you have never done before.

~ By guest blogger, Palak Narula. Palak is a full-time travel writer who visited Bali in 2017. She lives for good conversations, holistic experiences and the beauty of words. Follow her on Instagram @Wordbeatle

To book a personalized sustainable individual or group trip to Bali with a focus on spirituality, yoga or volunteering, contact us.

Ethical Chocolates, Both Delicious and Wildlife Friendly

As you begin to stock your pantries with chocolates and candies, pay attention to the list of ingredients listed on the package. Depending on the brand and quality of chocolate, it may be a product that is harmful to your own health, as well as to the environment and wildlife.
However, there is a chocolate brand that we like, as it surpasses all expectations of quality ingredients, refined taste, and global standards. Nuubia is a new ethical chocolate shop based in San Francisco that goes far beyond many other brands.
Ethical Chocolate from Nuubia
Hand Crafted and Environmentally Friendly
Nuubia hand-makes specialty confections from humanely sourced ingredients, without using either palm oil or GMOs. Founder, Alexandra Saunders, was born in Java, Indonesia, and has dedicated to life to conservation (cultivating palms for their oil is highly destructive of the environment so Nuubia has found a way to make ganache without the use of palm oil). Just a few weeks ago, Alexandra Saunders was an Honoree at Pongo Environmental Awards.
Nuubia is the first chocolatier to not only refuse to use palm oil but to ensure that what they make has no negative impact on the rainforests of the world. The company is also working to launch the Chocolate Wildlife Project which provides farmers with a viable source of income. For example, Nuubia purchases its ethical chocolate and ingredients directly from farmers who learn to produce sustainable, habitat-friendly crops.
nuubia chocolates made without palm oil

With Indonesia being the world’s 3rd largest exporter of palm oil, the production of palm oil has devastated the natural habitats of the animals and orangutans that inhabit the area. Founder, Alexandra Saunders, took a personal interest in orangutan conservation when she lived in Indonesia and studied them in graduate school at UC Berkeley. It was through this passion that Nuubia created the Chocolate Wildlife Project, which provides small farmers living on the edges of the Orangutan habitat with a viable source of income to abstain from destructive farming practices.

The Delicious Products
Nuubia Chocolate, Best Foods in the U.S
Some standout ethical chocolates from Nuubia include fresh-squeezed lime juice with vanilla bonbons, Caramelized Hazelnut Spread Sauce, that can rival just about any Nutella out there, and finally Johnny Walker Black Espresso Ganache Half Spheres! So when a box of chocolates is under the tree, you know that no orangutans were harmed to make your chocolate and that your treat can be enjoyed guilt-free.
Not to mention the OMG Candy Bar was awarded “Best Foods in the U.S.” by Esquire Magazine. Layers of hazelnut praline, sea salt caramel, rice crisps, and dark chocolate come together in harmony to create the perfect mood-altering balance. The chocolatier at Nuubia is Lionel Clement in 2011 he was named Chocolatier of the Year by Pastry Live.
nuubia choclate heart valentines day
Nuubia also offers a heart-shaped chocolate special (for pick up only), filled with more chocolate bonbons. This is the ultimate sweetheart gift for any special occasion.

Connect with Nuubia Today

In February 2015, Nuubia San Francisco opened its first flagship retail space in the newly built “Market on Market” inside the Twitter building, bringing fine chocolates, confections, natural spreads, macarons, handcrafted ice creams and seasonal specials to the city. Either take a selection of these handmade items home or stay and enjoy a chocolaty treat with freshly brewed latte in-store while sitting at Nuubia’s Chocolate Counter. The chocolates can be purchased directly from their instore location or ordered online. When ordered online they arrive very well packed with an ice pack and delivered within a couple of days directly from the store.

The Many Faces of Sustainable Tourism – My Week in Bali

Do you know the difference between ecotourism, sustainable travel, responsible travel, and volunteer vacationing? While there is a lot of overlap with each of these terms, they all have one common theme – that is to improve lives through travel and tourism.

On a recent Yoga Retreat in Bali, Indonesia through international nonprofit, Go Eat Give, I experienced an all-encompassing, meaningful venture into sustainable tourism, where we actually supported the community we visited in many different ways, perhaps without even realizing it.

Sustainable Tourism, A Stay Off of the Beaten Path

Most visitors to Bali either head to the beach resorts of Kuta, or the hippie city center of Ubud. Our accommodations were at Puri Gangga Resort and Spa, a 4-star 20-bedroom property located in the highland village of Sebatu (about 30 minutes from downtown Ubud) in East Bali. Enclosed by rice paddies and forests, the resort was a peaceful oasis overlooking Gunung Kawi Sebatu, a tranquil temple with gardens, and ponds full of blooming lotuses and enormous carps.

Puri Gangga Resort and Spa is a Sustainable Resort for Tourist of Bali
Ecotourism – “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)

The Resort

The resort was small, yet charming. It blended well with the peaceful environment and embodied nature into everyday living. From the fishpond at the reception, the stone pathways leading to the rooms, to the open-air restaurant, I always felt the presence of life surrounding me. Even my luxurious villa had thatched roofs that naturally repelled mosquitos and furniture made of Indonesian teak wood. My bathroom was huge, boasting great views of the surrounding paddies, and had a partially open roof in the shower. When it rained, the water just drained off into the rocks and plants around my toilet. I felt I had the luxury of indoor plumbing, set in an all-natural ambiance.

Each morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to the sounds of birds chirping and roosters crowing. I walked alongside the infinity pool in the morning mist of the forest, to attend my yoga class. At 7 am, a few early risers gathered in a spacious room with open windows facing east on one side, and west on the other. This week, we practiced meditation and graceful poses, using The Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho as a spiritual guide.

Amenities at the Puri Gangga Resort and Spa encourage mindfulness and sustainability
Amenities of the Puri Gangga Resort

Sustainable Dining

A relaxed yoga session was followed by breakfast at the resort’s restaurant, Kailasha, with a bird’s eye view of the temple below. This sustainable tourism location features a 3-course breakfast service that included a plate of fresh-cut tropical fruits, Indonesian coffee or tea, and tropical juices squeezed to order. A woven basket full of assorted baked bread, arrived with pineapple and strawberry jams made on-premise. Options for Western and Balinese style breakfasts were presented – coconut pisang rai (steamed bananas), Martabak sayur (savory stuffed pancake), Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Dadar Gulung (sweet coconut pancake), or eggs and toast. Like most Balinese families, the restaurant bought all the ingredients very early in the morning, many of which were picked from the adjacent farms.

I returned to Kailasha restaurant for dinner a few times and enjoyed healthy, fresh, and delicious local flavors. Baby spinach dressed with sunflower sprout and tossed in virgin coconut oil was the perfect Nature Healing Salad, while the main course, Balinese Tipat Cantok – rice cakes with steamed beans, carrots, bean sprouts, and peanut sauce, made for the most scrumptious vegetarian treat.

Sustainably Sourced food at the Amenities at the Puri Gangga Resort in Bali
Sustainable Dining – Food which is healthier for people and the planet.” (SustainableFood.com)

Cultural Tourism

My intention of living in the village was not only to decompress but also to experience the authentic life in Bali. At the resort I stayed in, there were activities designed to do just that. Puri Gangga offers a “Living in Culture” package that includes accommodations with daily yoga, afternoon tea, massages, and several cultural activities.

Some of the evenings, young Balinese dancers and Gamelan players would be invited from the village to perform for the guests at the resort. Watching talented girls of 8-10 years of age up close, dressed in their colorful costumes, and synchronizing their eyeballs with the music, was simply mesmerizing. I looked around and noticed the reaction of all the other spectators – fixated on their camera lenses, wanting to capture every single moment of this special treat.

I learned to make Balinese Canang Sari, an offering where we weaved palm leaves and decorate the square-shaped plate with bowls. It took me almost an hour to make one, and every Hindu household on the island makes 20-50 of these each day! While walking around the streets, you will see these offerings left at the doorsteps of businesses and homes after being blessed at the temples.

Performances by local community dancers displaying cultural traditions
Cultural Tourism – A discerning type of tourism that takes account of other people’s cultures. (UNESCO)

Visiting With the Locals

During the village tour, I visited the workshops and homes of local artists. Everyone I came across was busy working on some craft they had honed – be it sculpting stone statues, decorating wooden carvings, painting wicker boxes, or weaving baskets. Many of the products looked familiar, as I had seen them in the markets. It’s hard to conceptualize the time and labor behind the knick-knacks we pick up as souvenirs and understand that someone’s livelihood may be entirely dependent on our purchase.

Local Villagers work on handmade crafts in the Sebatu Village
Artisan Crafts Being Made in the Sebatu Village

Everyone who worked at this resort was a member of Sebatu village, so my dollars spent remained mostly in the area. I visited the homes of a hotel’s staff – a petite girl in her early 20’s who taught yoga, led people on tours, and conducted cultural lessons. She lived with 50 of her family members in a compound where she had a little house of two rooms. Her parents slept in the kitchen, while she had a tiny windowless room to herself. When one of my friends gave her a generous tip of $100, she was super excited and narrated how she would purchase books for her younger sister, give some money to her mother, put some aside, as well as help with the temple maintenance. Imagine what a 21-year old in the western world would do with $100 in cash!

Local Villagers work on handmade crafts
Sustainable Tourism – Travel that attempts to minimize its impact on the environment and local culture so that it will be available for future generations while contributing to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. (World Tourism Organization)

Cultural Excursions

There is no better addition to a venture into sustainable tourism than to be taught first hand by a local! During my visit, I signed up for a Balinese cooking class at Paon Bali Cooking School, where aunty Puspa and her husband, Wayan run an enterprise out of their home in another nearby village. He picks up the guests, shows them around the rice paddies, and brings them to their home, where Puspa teaches visitors how to cook 10 Balinese dishes in one session!

Over the years, through the growth of their business, they have been able to employ many of their relatives and neighbors, who would otherwise be selling art on the streets for pennies. Here they get to walk to work, eat whatever they want, and have fun teaching tourists about their native cuisine.

Local owner of the Paon Bali Cooking School
Cooking Lessons at the Paon Bali Cooking School

Batik is an ancient art form made with wax resistant dye on fabrics. Batik in Indonesia is perhaps the best known and an important part of their heritage. I decided to take a lesson in Batik at the home studio of a local artist, Widya where I spent about 5-6 hours learning the art from start to finish. I started with a blank piece of white cloth, stenciled a design with a pencil, and then drew it out with wax using a spouted tool called a canting. I wax stamped the borders of the cloth, while one of Widya’s many assistants, who are also excellent artists, help me correct my errors.

They showed me my selection of all-natural colors to fill in between the wax. The cloth is then dried in the sun, boiled in hot water to remove the wax, and air-dried again. While I worked diligently to create a masterpiece, Widya’s wife took my lunch order and ran off to the kitchen to cook Gado-Gado (a traditional dish of cabbage, green beans, and peanut sauce) and served it with fresh watermelon juice. It takes a lot of patience, good vision, and a steady hand to create these pieces, and I was nowhere close to being able to fetch a price for my work! Widya sells his work to shops and galleries around the world. It can take him a week or a month to make a single wall hanging, depending on the intricacy of its design. Like Puspa, he has created a small business at his home to sustain other artists who don’t always get the fame they deserve.

a lesson in Batik at the home studio of a local artist, Widya
Volunteer Tourism – “A form of tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity: at the core of voluntourism is the desire to help others.” Oxford Dictionary

Volunteering in the Community

Lastly, on this sustainable tourism journey, I spent some time learning about poverty in Bali’s villages and how it has impacted the children. I met with the staff of Bali Children’s Project (BCP) and learned that many of the families are so poor, that the parents unable to sustain, end up committing suicide. Young kids are left to fend for themselves and end up working on the streets selling cheap souvenirs. I also saw some of their living conditions where a family of 4-5 would sleep in one dingy dark room on a torn mattress with dirty coverings. BCP has enrolled 300 kids to attend school through a sponsorship program, but that is only a fraction of the kids in Bali who need help.

I visited some of the schools where BCP sponsored kids are studying. We spend time doing arts and crafts with third graders. They took to me instantly, calling my name and teaching me words in Balinese. They were eager to show me their work and surrounded me when it came to picture taking the time. Despite their circumstances, these kids were very outgoing – smiling, laughing and eager to know me.

In my short time there, I couldn’t do much except donate some money to purchase beddings and commit to sponsoring two kids till the age of 18. It costs only $40/ month per child, a small sum in comparison to the big difference it can make in the life of a child. By receiving an education, these kids have some chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Group Photo of Children from the Bali Children Project

More than Just Memorable

When I think about all the lives that were impacted directly and indirectly because of my 10-day sustainable tourism visit to Bali, I am pleased. I feel I truly became a sustainable traveler, leaving a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy.

Book your stay at Puri Gangga Resort today with TripAdvisor

6 Must Try Food and Drinks in Indonesia

Indonesia is a country brimming with sights, shopping, and fabulous food. As a country known for its diverse use of spices, its cuisine is one of the most colorful and vibrant of any in the world. Here is a quick overview of some of the most traditional and popular foods of Indonesia, and some of what you can taste at Go Eat Give Destination Indonesia on March 26th in Atlanta…

 1. Gado Gado

Gado Gado is a traditional Indonesian dish suitable for every foodie, including vegetarians. The dish, translated to “mix-mix,” is a blend of various vegetables, tofu, and tempeh in a peanut sauce. It is sometimes served with crispy crackers as a snack, or on its own as a side or entree with rice.

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2. Saté

An Indonesian dish the is well known in the West and is similar to a shish kabob. Sate consists of different kinds of meat roasted over coals on bamboo skewers, and is often times paired with a peanut sauce. The meat may include chicken, beef, pork, tofu, and more. Saté originated in Java and was a creation of the Indonesian street vendors, but has spread around Indonesia and to neighboring countries.

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3. Kerak Telor

This dish is a crispy Indonesian “frittata” made with sticky rice, shrimp, coconut, shallots, and spices. Duck or eggs are commonly added to the meal based on the customer’s preference. Kerak Telor is one of the most popular street foods in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and derives from the Betawi culture. The dish also is said to resemble the western omelet though its spice and crispness set it apart.

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4. Rendang

Rendang originated in Pandang, a city in Sumatra, and is one of the most flavorful and iconic dishes of Indonesia. It is referred to as “West Sumatran caramelized beef curry” by culinary experts and was named the #1 most delicious food in the world by CNN International readers. The dish is made with beef, which is marinated, in a special curry for hours. Rendang can also be served dry as a soft jerky, but this is reserved only for special occasions.

Beef-Rendang-Served-with-Steamed-Rice

5. Cendol

Cendol is a traditional Indonesian dessert drink that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or tasted before. The base is made up of coconut milk, palm sugar, and shaved ice, and is mixed with various kinds of jelly noodles. The noodles are made out of red beans, rice, or even grass jelly. Iced cendol with durian fruit and chocolate milk is also popular in Indonesia.

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6. Bintang Bir Pilsner

If you ever find yourself in Indonesia during a night out, you’re bound to run into someone drinking Bintang Beer. It was introduced to the country by the Heineken brand during the 1930s under the original name Java Bier, and later took on its’ current name in 2006. Bintang means “star” in Indonesian, and the Bintang bottle features a red star that is reminiscent of the classic Heineken bottle. Additionally, the taste of Bintang is said to be very similar to Heineken with its’ malt and hop flavor.

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Temple Culture of Bali

Bali: exploring Hinduism outside India while also enjoying pristine beaches, dive sites, all-inclusive resorts, and year-round temperate weather.

bali for Khabar 2014

As seen in Khabar Magazine January 2014 print issue. Words & photography by Sucheta Rawal. 

I arrived on the island of Bali, Indonesia, during an auspicious time. Palm trees adorned homes and businesses, colorful offerings for deities sat on doorsteps, and locals, dressed in traditional white garb, carried baskets laden with fruits and flowers. Children played the gamelan, a traditional musical ensemble, and processions taking Barongs (mystical beasts) paraded the streets. Every home and business had its penjor (palm tree) decorated with fruits, coconut leaves and flowers. It looked like a tropical Christmas.

It was the week of Galungan, the most important festival for Balinese Hindus. It marks an occasion to honor the creator of the universe and the spirits of ancestors. The festival symbolizes the victory of good (dharma) over evil (adharma), and encourages the Balinese to show their gratitude to the creator and the saints from their ancestry. During this holy period, people cook special cakes (known as jaja) in pots of clay, visit family members, and pray at multiple temples.

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It is easy to get lost in the architectural beauty of over fifty thousand temples in a mere 2,232 square miles. I questioned my host, Sri Ekayanti Ni Wayan (who goes by Eka), why Balinese people felt a need for so many temples. “It is mandatory to have a temple at one’s home, a family temple and a village temple. Every village also has three temples, each dedicated to the Gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Therefore, a Balinese person prays at least three temples daily,” she informed me. They would also visit some of the larger temples during festivals or special occasions.

Eka invited me to her family temple, in the village of Sukawati. The family members, consisting of about 100 people, gathered in the evening to celebrate the temple’s anniversary, which is held every six months. Women are required to cover their legs before entering the tem¬ple; therefore sarongs (similar to the Indian lungi) are available at most public temples. There is a technique for properly tying a sarong with a sash, which Eka had to demonstrate for me, even though I have draped myself in a sari many times before. I was taken through the common grounds of the temple into an inside chamber, where we sat on the floor. Some of the women blessed me with flowers and incense, sprinkled holy water and dotted my forehead with uncooked rice. It was not clear which God we were praying to, as the Balinese Hindus do not practice idol worship. (Different colors identify each God: red for Brahma, black for Vishnu and white for Shiva.) Then we gathered to watch children from the community perform traditional music and dance.

A procession of temple offerings during Galungan

The Balinese temples (called pura) are different from an Indian Hindu temple. An outdoor complex of small buildings leads into a series of gates to reach the interiors of the temples. The Balinese people are associated to a particular temple by virtue of descent, residence, or some mystical revelation of affiliation. Some temples are associated with the family house compound (also called banjar in Bali), others are associated with rice fields, and still others with key geographic sites.

While visitors cannot enter most family temples, there are some well-known temples in Bali that are also major tourist attractions. During my stay in Ubud, the central region of Bali that is nestled among rice paddies and volcanic hills, I visited Pura Tirta Empul. Dating back to 926 AD, the temple has a pool known to have healing powers. Locals take a dip in the sacred waters hoping to purify themselves.

Taman Ayun (“beautiful garden”) is a family temple belonging to the Raja of Mengwi and built in 1634 AD. This is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali, characterized by towering Balinese pagodas (known as Meru) made of odd-numbered black thatched roofs. The temple complex is surrounded by gardens that are packed with locals picnicking with families over the weekends.

My favorite of all was Tanah Lot, rightfully named one of the most photographed temples in Bali. It is lo¬cated on a cliff jutting out into the sea, surrounded by black sand and surfing waves, and makes for a picturesque view especially during sunset. During high tides, the rock looks like a large boat at sea.

The profusion of temples in Bali is not surprising considering almost 85 percent of Bali’s population fol¬lows Hinduism, which is said to have come to Indonesia from India in the fifth century. By the eleventh century, Java and Sumatra were seeing an increase in the popularity of Buddhism, which was eventually replaced by Islam. However, due to geographical barriers, the island of Bali was the only part of Indonesia that remained Hindu, while the rest of the country experienced Muslim conversions.

There are similarities between Balinese Hinduism and that found in India. It follows the belief of rebirth, karma and nirvana, divides the cosmos into three layers (heaven, human and hell), and is deeply embodied in rituals celebrating birth, marriage, death, and everything in between. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwo¬ven with art and ritual, which is reflected in the various festivals celebrated throughout the year.

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Hindu mythological characters and scriptures also inspire Balinese music and dance. Traditional dances depict episodes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and are taught to children early on. At the Sukawati temple celebrations, Eka’s nine-year old daughter and her classmates performed temple dances dressed in one-shoulder gold wrap and peacock-shaped headwear, gesturing with captivating eye and facial expressions. A dance-drama played out the battle between the mythical characters Rangda (a witch representing adharma) and Barong, the protective predator (representing dharma), in which performers fell into a trance and attempt¬ed to stab themselves with sharp knives.

Dance schools around the island run by genera¬tions of artistes hold classes for adults and children who want to practice traditional Balinese dances. For spectators, many local restaurants, temples, and cul¬tural centers offer Balinese folklore performances for a cover charge of about $8-10.

In recent years, Bali has become a major attraction for travelers seeking spirituality through yoga, meditation, healing, and vegetarianism. Many yoga schools, retreat centers, and spas offer a chance to develop spiritual and physical being. Styles of yoga and movement taught in Bali include Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Laughter, Power, Anusara, Ashtanga, Silat, Capoeira, Poi, Qi Gong, and Juggling. The annual Bali Spirit Festival gathers world-renowned musicians, yogis, and dancers to illustrate the Balinese Hindu concept of Tri Hita Karana: living in harmony with our spiritual, social, and natural environments. Yoga teacher training, cleansing detox, and meditation retreats are offered to international visitors before and after the festival. Balinese Hindus, unlike a large percentage of other Hindus, are not vegetarian. They eat chicken, fish, and pork. However, there are many juice bars, vegan restaurants, and vegetarian restaurants serving international cuisine in Bali. It is common to overhear tourists from different parts of the world discussing afterlife and spirituality over a lunch of tempeh curry and herbal tea at a café in Ubud.

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Coming back to the festival of Galungan, I am lost in the sights and sounds that make up the spectacle of the Dance of the Barong, performed through the streets of Bali during this time. Like in a dragon dance, two people wear a costume as they lead a crowd of followers through the village with much clanging to announce their approach. The Barong, even though frightening to look at because of its fiery eyes and animalistic hair, is meant to restore the balance of good and evil at a Balinese home.

The tenth day, Kuningan, marks the end of Galungan, and is believed to be the day when the spirits ascend back to heaven. On this day, Balinese families get together, make offerings, and pray. Then they have a feast where traditional Balinese dishes such as lawar (a spicy pork and coconut sauce dish) and satay (chicken tenders grilled on bamboo sticks) are served.

While most Western tourists visit Bali for its pristine beaches, dive sites, all-inclusive resorts, and year-round temperate weather, the more unforgettable attractions remain the region’s colorful art, vivid dances, rich culture, and Hindu festivals. Hindu customs in Bali have been preserved over thousands of years and form an integral part of everyday life.

Most popular temples in Bali Pura Besakih – Also known as Mother Temple or the Temple of Spiritual Happiness, this is the most import¬ant temple for Balinese ceremonies.Pura Tanah Lot – The most photographed temple in Bali sits atop a high rock with a backdrop of foamy white waves and black sand.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu – Perched on cliffs against a surf break against the sea, it is spectacular to visit during sunset.

Pura Tirta Empul – Fitted with two holy springs, it is a popular place for the Balinese to bathe for spiritual cleansing.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan – Situated in beautiful surround¬ings, the temple juts out onto a lake.

Goa Lawah Temple – The 1,000-year-old-cave temple swarms with bats and is one of the most unique temples in the world.

Taman Ayun Temple in Mengwi – Surrounded by beautiful gardens, it is a good place to see the famous Balinese pagodas.

Pura Goa Giri Putri – Nestled inside a mountain cave, the dwelling place of God symbolizes the power of a woman.

Asian Heritage Month at The Coca Cola Company

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month at The Coca Cola Company with our first major event – with Sucheta Rawal
founder of nonprofit organization Go Eat Give
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Recipes from today:

Gado Gado – Gado-Gado is famous green beans dish from the island of Bali, Indonesia.

Copyright Go Eat Give

Aloo Papri Chat – Potatoes and Dough Chips mixed with Tamarind and Yogurt sauce. Popular snack food in India and Nepal.

papdi-chaat

Nepali Chicken Chhoila – Grilled Meat Marinated with Nepalese Spices and Garnished with Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Cilantro. Popular Snack with Beer/Wine

chicken choiliya

Some of the food was sponsored by Himalayan Spice Restaurant

Fried Tempeh in Sweet Sauce

Tempeh is a soy based product, similar to tofu, that originated in Indonesia. Traditionally used as an alternate to meat by vegetarians, tempeh has a firm grainy taste that takes some getting use to. It is made from whole soybeans and has different nutritional and textural characteristics from tofu. Tempeh is a rich source of protein, fiber and vitamins. It can be found at health and speciality grocery stores, such as Whole Foods in the US.  

Before cooking tempeh, you need to slice it and soak it in salt water or brine for a few minutes. Then use it for any recipe from tempeh pizza, burger, stew, chili, sandwich, stir fry, chips…the possibilities are endless!

Photo courtesy dessertcomesfirst.com
Photo courtesy dessertcomesfirst.com

Here is a recipe for an Indonesian style deep fried tempeh Go Eat Give volunteers learned to make at the Paon Bali Cooking School in Bali.

fried tempeh
Deep Fried Tempeh in Sweet Soy Sauce

Deep Fried Tempeh in Sweet Soy Sauce

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of tempeh
  • 10 red chilies
  • 5 tablespoons Indonesian sweet soy sauce, Kecap Manis
  • 4 shallots
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 spring of onion
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • ¼ liter coconut oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the tempeh into thin strips. Boil the coconut oil in pan, add the tempeh and deep fry until golden brown then remove and set aside.
  2. Slice the red chilies and remove their seeds. Slice the garlic, shallots, spring onion and red chilies; heat about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in another pan and sauté then until they are light brown.
  3.  Add the deep fried tempeh to the pan of garlic, shallots, spring onions and chili and mix, adding the Kecap Manis and broken kaffir lime leaves. Stir well to coat tempeh in the sauce.
  4. Serve hot as a main course.

 

Gado Gado Recipe

As seen at the Travel and Adventure Show in Dallas!

Gado-Gado is famous green beans dish from the island of Bali, Indonesia. Go Eat Give volunteers learn to make this dish from Aunty Puspa at Paon Bali Cooking School. Generally Gado-Gado is served as a side dish along with other entrees. It is spicy and flavorful. Try it out instead of your green bean casserole this year!

Gado-Gado (Balinese green beans)

Copyright Go Eat Give

For the veggies:
2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups string beans (cut into 5 cm)
2 cups bean sprouts
1 packet firm tofu
1 small cucumber
For the sauce:
1 1/2 cups fried peanuts (skin on)
1 inch piece galangal
2 macadamia nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 dry red chili
1/2 tomato
3 tablespoon Indonesian sweet soy sauce
1 lime
salt to taste
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoon coconut oil

Copyright Go Eat Give

To make the sauce, first remove seeds from chili. Blend chili, peanuts, garlic, macadamia, galangal & tomato in a blender or with a mortar/pestle (bring it if you have one) until it forms a fine paste. In a small sauce pan over low heat, add water and whisk the sauce base into it. Add soy sauce, salt & lemon juice. Stir thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. This can be made ahead of time.
For the vegetable, blanche cabbage and bean sprouts for less than a minute in boiling water. Boil the beans for 3 minutes so they are still firm. Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Cut tofu into small cubes and fry it in hot coconut oil until golden color.
In a large serving bowl, toss the tofu and vegetables. Pour the sauce over the and serve immediately with a side of steamed rice.

 

Tuna in Banana Leaf

A popular dish from the island of Bali is PEPESAN BE PASIH or PEPES IKA, in other words STEAMED FISH IN BANANA LEAVES. This is a great recipe for grilling during a backyard party or a cookout. It is healthy and caters to the palates of non meat eaters. Fresh banana leaves are available at farmers markets and Asian grocery stores. Enjoy it this Labor day or throughout the year! Continue reading “Tuna in Banana Leaf”