Walk through the streets of Bali and you can always find someone selling rice over an open table with assorted meats and veggies. That’s what the locals call nasi campur, or mixed rice, and it’s a culinary adventure!
Nasi campur is a blanket term for any kind of rice dish served with assorted meats or vegetables. It is not a Bali-exclusive term; it’s more of an Indonesian thing. Usually, nasi campur is sold by street hawkers in brown wrapping paper or a banana leaf folded in a cone. It is usually called nasi bungkus, which literally means “wrapped rice”.You can’t actually select what kinds of additions you want to eat this way; this type of nasi campur is for people on the go. It’s a cheap way to keep an empty stomach at bay!
Some sellers have a table or showcase with lots of food on it. Sometimes they are out in the open on the side of a busy street, or inside a closed establishment. When there’s a table of food, you’ll be able to make your own nasi campur! You can just point out which kinds of food you want with your rice, and the seller will charge you accordingly.
Balinese nasi campur usually consists of rice (obviously), some meat, lots of veggies, and the obligatory sambal. There’s also a lot to choose from. There are multiple types of rice: do you fancy plain white rice, brown rice, or white rice mixed with cassava or sweet corn? There’s also a wide variety of veggies: would you like water spinach with sambal (the notorious plecing) or some lawar? There’s also a selection of meat, served in different fashions: would you prefer babi guling, red spicy pulled chicken, or the duck? To top it all off, there’s sambal as the main condiment and fried shallots or cucumber slices for taste. Why not finish off with a fresh iced tea or young coconut? Basically anything can be put together with rice and be called nasi campur.
Since it is ubiquitous, you’ll find different sellers with different signatures, often within close proximity with one another. That one nasi campur lady may serve amazing fried tofu, but the other lady could have awesome chicken. The dish also differs based on region, so you might find a different variety of nasi campur in Ubud and another kind in Denpasar. Nasi campur is also sold in restaurants, from cheap ones to expensive ones. Thus, there’s no single “perfect” nasi campur; it’s up to you to craft (or find) your own perfect blend. There’s no better way to experience Bali than on a plate!