Recipe | Bali’s Heavenly Pie

By Habeeb Salloum

When one thinks of Bali, Indonesia’s charming isle, images of an almost magical beauty and exotic culture come to mind. 

Many tourists have a point when they describe Bali as the ‘island of the gods’, while others call it ‘Shangri-La’, or an ‘island paradise’.  Its scenic lush green countryside, amazing mountain scenery, beautiful beaches and some of the world’s top hotels and resorts, warm and friendly people with a vibrant way of life give the land an irresistible appeal drawing them as if by magic to its shores.

Capping all these attributes is the cuisine of this heavenly isle.  Consisting of a wide variety of dishes, it is for a connoisseur of fine food a delicious delight – as this recipe will testify.

Bali’s Savoury Pies – Martabak

Makes 18 pies

One of Bali’s most favoured fast-food snacks is Martabak, a fried pie that originated in the Yemen.  Through trade and contact, the pie spread to India and Southeast Asia. The dish consists of three parts: the pie, and two condiments – pickles and sauce.

To make the pickles:

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 tablespoons white sugar

6-inch cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced

1 medium red onion, cut in half then thinly sliced

For the brine, in a saucepan, mix together all the ingredients except the cucumber and onion.  Bring to boil.

In a bowl, gently stir together the cucumber and onion then pour boiling brine over the slices to cover completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Pie Filling:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1-pound ground lamb

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup finely chopped green onion

2 eggs, beaten

In a frying pan, heat oil and sauté onion over medium for 5 minutes. Add the lamb, salt, curry, pepper, cumin and sugar and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in green onion and eggs. Set aside. 


Martabak sauce:

1 cup water

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a saucepan, add the water and bring to boil over medium heat.  Stir in sugar and mix until melted.  Add garlic and cayenne and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Spoon into serving bowl and set aside.

To make the Martabak:

18 egg roll wraps

Oil for deep-frying

Take one egg roll wrap and place on flat surface. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon of filling evenly on the roll, fold in the four sides forming a square.  Seal according to egg roll wraps package directions.

In a saucepan, add enough oil for deep-frying and heat over medium. Deep-fry Martabak until golden on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.  Serve immediately with the pickles and the Martabak sauce for dipping.