MOKSA’s Idyllic Ubud

In the midst of Bali’s fast-paced development, it was a delight to find something old in something new.

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In the midst of Bali’s fast-paced development, it was a delight to find something old in something new.

AT THE HELM OF this new local favourite are Made Runatha, Indonesia’s first certified plant-based cuisine Chef, and Made Janur Yasa, a qualified food technologist. Both are living in their self-proclaimed ‘second chapter’ and shared a vision to create something more than a restaurant.

And so they did. Moksa is a sustainable 50 hald hectare farm-to-table project, custom designed to integrate environmentally conscious principles with healthy healing cooking.

Set within the rice fields of Sayan, we venture off the main road into a narrow street through a traditional village. We arrive in the late afternoon happy to be surrounded by the abundant greenery and the simple Balinese structures; wooden tables are grouped together under open bales, and the cheerfully bustling kitchen is contained in a small earthen brick building.

At first glance it is sparse, but after a moment we are taken in with the atmosphere of natural simplicity. We sit in the warm sunshine on the deck overlooking the permaculture garden, watching local children and rice farmers meander along the narrow dirt path ahead and listen to the distant sounds of the gamelan and the intermittent rooster crows. The deck is an ideal platform to take in the peaceful village life that Ubud is renowned for.

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The menu is short but interesting, offering creative vegan interpretations of familiar international dishes. Almost half of the menu is raw.

The first dish to arrive from the kitchen is the Kale Avocado Maki roll elegantly presented on a handmade earthenware plate; kale, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, jicama and carrot wrapped in nori, fresh and crisp, and served with a deliciously smoky Asian sauce.

Next came the Moksa Cheese Trio, a raw vegan cashew nut cheese fermented overnight and flavored with pesto, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives. The cashew nut cheese has a rich creaminess with a tartness that subtly echoes the sharpness of real cheese. It is served with crunchy and moreish pumpkin seed crackers on a bed of fresh peppery rocket leaves and beetroot.

Both founders are Balinese born and bred. And the concept of Moksa stems strongly from their cultural traditions

“Tri Hita Karana is the harmonious connection between human to god, human to human and human to the environment,” said Pak Made Janur. It is their vehicle for manifesting their own interpretation of Moksa, the sense of liberation and fulfillment, that we feel at the end of a day well spent.

Moksa is green at its core with its exclusively vegan menu; there are no high energy consuming meats or meat products here. But their commitment to sustainability is evident at every turn and starts from the ground up.

Below the property lies a 43,000 litre rainwater catchment which provides all the water for the bathrooms and the garden. No chemicals are used here, and all consumables are local, natural or biodegradable. An efficient compost nourishes their permaculture garden and even processes vegetable matter from neighbouring vegetarian restaurants too.

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Each detail has green merit but perhaps most charming of all are the lemongrass and papaya stem straws that grace our tall drinks. “When we think about the environmental crises in the world it can be overwhelming but we are proud to be part of the solution in our Moksa world. Nothing leaves the property except for plastic, glass and metal; everything else stays here,” said Made Janur.

Our friendly waitress Kadek brings over the Tropical Jack Fruit Tacos and informs us it is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Young jack fruit is marinated in cumin, paprika and garlic, and encased in tasty corn and flax meal taco shells. The shredded jack fruit has a firm meat-like texture and a delicious kick tamed by a fresh salad and light coconut sour cream made in house.

We choose the green Incredible Curry Tofu for our final savoury dish and the flavor is true to form: rich and delicately balanced with a delicious brightness from the fresh coriander. The coconut milk is made in-house using dehydrated coconut meat and the freshly picked vegetables are cooked lightly to keep their firmness.

Chef Made Runatha is a passionate advocate of plant-based cuisine. After an international career in hotel restaurants, he found himself back home in Bali and was given the opportunity to travel to the United States to study raw cuisine with the Living Light Culinary Institute.

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“I fell in love with this style of food because it’s medicine,” He said, insisting it cured him his 25 year streak of insomnia. “You can cure a lot of diseases; diabetes, cancer, stroke. Food loses 70 percent of its nutritional benefits through conventional cooking, but raw cuisine keeps all its nutrition, all of its enzymes.”

Cooking workshops at Moksa focus on the principles of plant-based cooking. “The basics are more important than the recipes. You can have a hundred recipes but the basic knowledge allows people to move beyond the recipes.”

For instance, instead of using egg and dairy, natural binders such as avocado, flax seed, and coconut meat give food a smoother texture and help retain its moisture. Plant-based cuisine also substitutes egg and gelatin with natural thickeners such as cacao butter and cold pressed coconut oil to give food texture.

We try the raw Orange Chocolate Mousse to understand the properties of binders in unbaked sweets. Its key ingredients are chocolate, orange juice, orange zest with avocadoes as the binder. The end product is a dense mousse with a rich silkiness. It is served with an interesting nectar-like caramelized coriander sauce and a gorgeously light cashew nut cream.

“The most important challenge is how to make healthy food delicious, and delicious food healthy,” Made Runatha says passionately. “We have to learn about the character and the benefits of each ingredient. Focus on what we can do to balance the flavor because we need things to be delicious.”

  • Plant-based ingredients consume less resources in production and transport compared with animal products
  • The on-site permaculture garden supplies up to 40 percent of kitchen produce
  • Recycling & composting waste wherever possible, even bringing in compost waste from other vegetarian restaurants in Ubud
  • Underground rainwater catchment storing up to 43,000 liters
  • Grey water system used to recycle water for garden
  • Sourcing recycled timber and building materials such as roof tiles
  • Sourcing locally made ceramics, cutlery, glasses and napkins
  • Using biodegradable cleaning products
  • Using biodegradable packaging when needed
  • No chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers used
  • All products are cooked on-site from natural ingredients reducing the waste of product packaging

MOKSA
Puskesmas Ubud II, Gang Damai
Sayan, Bali
T: +62 361 4792479
Instagram: @moksaubud
Facebook: moksaubud
www.moksaubud.com


Written by FoodieS October 9, 2016.

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