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Balinese coconut lawar salad (Lawar buncis Bali)

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

A lawar salad is the most important dish in Balinese culture. Some form of this salad is made almost everyday, but it is the highlight for festivals and religious ceremonies. Every part of Bali has its own version of this salad, based on local ingredients and traditions. According to Australian food writer Maya Kerthyasa, it is not just the ingredients, but the colors that matter “In it [the salad] the three main colors represent three different deities. For Shiva the destroyer god there’s red, from pig’s or duck’s blood that is added to coconut. For Vishnu the preserver the color is green from fern tips, snake beans and jackfruit. Finally for Brahma the creator, it’s white from fresh grated coconut and chicken.

This version is without blood of any kind, and a completely vegan version of this salad. I used green beans, red peppers, as I could not find sugar snap peas, and edamame. The list of ingredients is long and there is some prep work for this salad, don’t let that put you off. The salad is just over the top delicious. The fresh and slightly blanched vegetables have tons of crunch, the sambal dressing pops with flavor, the coconut adds a mellow sweetness and creaminess to the salad and the chilies a pop of heat. Watch out, you can eat a whole bowl of this salad very easily, it is that addictive. This is a newer and beautiful cookbook on Indonesian cuisine. The dishes are wonderful and flavorful and the recipes very well written. This book brings a diversity of cuisine to my kitchen and table. A great book for those who want to learn about this cuisine and culture.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


1 red chili, halved, deseeded, and cut into thin slices on the diagonal

2 cups tender green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

3/4 cup edamame

3/4 cup sugar snap peas, cut into very thin matchsticks

1 red pepper, cut into very thin 1 inch slices (optional)

2 kaffir lime leaves, very finely minced

1 lemongrass stalk, very tender parts, finely minced

1/2 cup desiccate coconut

6 shallots, finely sliced

12-15 garlic pods, finely sliced

1/2 cup cilantro, minced

Zest and juice of 2-3 kaffir limes or limes

1 teaspoon jaggery or palm sugar

Salt to taste

Coconut oil

For the sambal paste:

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon galangal, or substitute 1/4 the amount ginger paste instead. If using dried galangal, soak in water overnight to soften

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1-2 red chilies, or to taste, cut and deseeded

4 shallots, sliced

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons oil

To make the sambas paste:

Add all the ingredients for the paste, except oil, in a small blender and purée till very smooth. This may take time if you are using dried galangal. Add as little water as possible, just enough to allow the mixture to slide down the sides of the blender and get puréed. You do not want a runny paste.

Add the oil to a shallow pan and add the paste and cook on a medium flame till it is cooked down and fragrant. Stir often and scrape down the bottom of the pan with a spatula so the bottom does not burn. The final sauce should be quite thick, and the oil should begin to show at the edges. Taste and adjust salt, and seasonings. Set aside.

To make the salad:

Blanche the beans in boiling salted water for 1-1 1/2 minutes till just cooked, but still very crunchy. I like to leave the vegetables quite raw, so blanche according to your liking. Alternatively, put the beans in a bowl and cook in the microwave with a sprinkling of water for 1 1/2 minutes. Set aside.The beans should be a bright and vibrant green.

Blanche the sugar snap peas for 30 seconds, or to your liking, again taking care to leave them a bright green. You can blanche them in the microwave for 1 minute too.

The red pepper is not cooked.

The red chili is added to a pan with a teaspoon of oil and fried till soft. Set aside. I chose to leave this raw too.

In a very small pot fry the garlic till lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

In the same pot and oil fry the shallots till browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

The author suggested mixing all the vegetables and ingredients with the spice paste before serving. However, I like to have a more decorative dish served, especially as I have taken so much time over it.

Arrange the sambas sauce in the center. If it is too runny, use a small bowl to hold it in place. Arrange the vegetables around the samba in concentric circles, alternating the colors and shapes to make it interesting. Grate the lime zest onto the salad and squeeze the lime juice all over. Sprinkle the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, fried shallots and garlic on top followed by the cilantro and desiccated coconut. Do not overcrowd the top, you should still be able to see the vegetables below. Arrange the chilies as the final pop of color.

Serve and mix at the table before serving after your guests have had a chance to appreciate the dish. NOTE: When I make a salad like this, I always have extra vegetables or stuff that does not fit into a beautiful display. I have learned to set those aside separately in a bowl in the kitchen. After your guests have seen the dish and taken Instagram photos, I take the dish back to the kitchen where I mix the salad for serving. At this point I add in all the remaining vegetables and extras. This way you have a beautiful dish, AND, enough food for everyone and no but you knows any better.

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