The Secret of Balinese Betutu Chicken: Base Genep and Timeless Deliciousness

The first glimpse of the very famous Balinese dish, Ayam Betutu, may simply describe it as a delicious dish. However, behind the deliciousness, Ayam Betutu is a window into the deep local wisdom of the Island of the Gods. With a base of chicken combined with Balinese spices, namely "base genep", this dish entices with its spicy, savory taste and aroma. Let's explore the culinary secrets of Bali that are lovingly passed down from one generation to the next. This is Ayam Betutu, a Balinese dish that expresses all the goodness of the island in one bite.

Nov 22, 2023 - 19:25
Sep 25, 2023 - 12:29
The Secret of Balinese Betutu Chicken: Base Genep and Timeless Deliciousness
Ayam Betutu (Source: Personal Collection)

Bali is a reflection of the local wisdom that has been lovingly passed down from generation to generation. Ayam betutu is a dish that illustrates Bali's rich local wisdom. This dish is not just a meal, but also a traditional heritage that contains historical stories, natural ingredients, and unique cooking techniques. As the name implies, ayam betutu is made from chicken mixed with Balinese spices. Thus, Ayam Betutu has a very rich, spicy, savory, and flavorful Balinese taste.


The beginnings of Ayam Betutu date back to 1976, when Ni Wayan Tempeh, originally from Abiansi, Gianyar city, created a handmade dish. Together with her husband, I Nyoman Suratna, who is originally from Bangli, they sold their ayam betutu in Gilimanuk. After Ayam Betutu was invented, the recipe spread throughout Indonesia. The word "betutu" comes from the combination of the word "tunu" which means "grilled", and the word "be" which refers to "meat". Thus, "betutu" means grilled meat. Therefore, "ayam betutu" is chicken that is grilled.


Base Genep Ingredients (Source: Personal Collection)


The Balinese seasoning used in the process of making Ayam Betutu is known as "base genep". The word "base" means seasoning in Balinese. Base genep is one of the mainstay spices for cooking for the Balinese people. Base genep consists of several natural ingredients such as shallots, garlic, red chili, cayenne pepper, ginger, turmeric, galangal, coriander, peppercorns, cloves, candlenuts, shrimp paste, salt, bay leaves, and kaffir lime peel. Each ingredient has a specific role in giving Balinese dishes their unique flavor and aroma. Base Genep contains deep spicy, sweet, sour and fragrant elements, creating a rich and complex flavor. Careful use of base genep is key in creating authentic and delicious cuisine.


Base Genep (Source: Personal Collection)


The ingredients used in making Ayam Betutu are very important to create a distinctive and delicious taste of this dish. The ingredients in making Betutu chicken, namely:

  1. Chicken: This is the main ingredient, the chicken used is a whole chicken. Usually using native chickens or young hens.
  2. Base genep: Base genep is the core of the spicy, savory, and aromatic flavors in Ayam Betutu.
  3. Banana leaves: Banana leaves are used to wrap the chicken and retain moisture during the cooking process.
  4. Coconut oil: Coconut oil is used to season the chicken and fry the base genep before wrapping the chicken in banana leaves. The coconut oil gives the chicken a savory taste and helps the spices to penetrate into the chicken meat.
  5. Salt: Salt is used to flavor the dish and enhance its general taste.
  6. Lime: The juice of limes or limes is used to give the dish a refreshing sour touch.
  7. Bay leaf: Bay leaves are used to give the dish a fragrant aroma and enrich the flavor of Ayam Betutu.
  8. Lemongrass: Lemongrass is used to give the dish a fresh aroma and distinctive flavor.

These ingredients work together to create the unique flavor and aroma of Ayam Betutu, making it a much-loved Balinese dish. Base Genep is the core of the seasoning that gives the dish its characteristic Balinese flavor, while the addition of lime juice, bay leaves, and lemongrass provide additional dimensions of flavor and aroma that enrich the dish.


The process of making Ayam Betutu is a culinary journey that blends traditional Balinese heritage with an incredible wealth of flavors. The dish requires meticulous preparation, precise seasoning, and a slow cooking process to ensure the spices are perfectly infused in the chicken meat. Let's explore the detailed steps in creating this Balinese dish.

  1. Prepare all the ingredients used to make the base genep
  2. Puree all the ingredients for the base genep
  3. Heat coconut oil in a wok, then saute the base genep until fragrant
  4. Thoroughly clean the chicken by removing feathers, offal, beak and tough leg skin. The skin of the feet is usually peeled off as well
  5. Marinate the chicken with orange juice, sprinkle with white ground pepper and salt to taste. Let the marinated chicken stand for 5 minutes
  6. Heat water in a saucepan by adding some spices such as lemongrass stems that have been refined, bay leaves, and lime leaves
  7. Boil the chicken in the water until the chicken is three quarters cooked, then remove from heat
  8. After the chicken boiling process is complete, put some of the base genep into the chicken stomach, and the other part that has been mixed with tandusan oil, spread over the entire surface of the chicken body
  9. Chicken that has passed through the marinade process will be slightly squeezed. This aims to make the chicken become softer
  10. Then, the chicken is wrapped using banana leaves
  11. Prepare a grill tool to grill the chicken. Then grill the chicken that is still wrapped in banana leaves for about 20 minutes and rotate the chicken so that each side is evenly burned during the grilling process
  12. After the grilling process is complete, the chicken is ready to be served. Usually, the chicken is served on banana leaves along with peanuts, sambal matah, and vegetables

These are the steps in making delicious and flavorful ayam betutu, from the preparation of spices to the burning process.


Sambal Matah (Source: Personal Collection)


In Balinese tradition, Ayam Betutu is usually served in various traditional ceremonies, celebrations, and weddings. Its presence in events such as odalan, otonan, or weddings adds meaning and specialness to the occasion. This dish not only indulges the palate, but also honors Bali's rich traditions and culture.


Every step of the way, Ayam Betutu has become a manifestation of Bali's deep culture and rich culinary heritage. With fragrant spices, spicy flavors, and tender chicken meat, this dish is not just about food, but also about an enchanting experience and a tribute to Bali's culinary traditions. Every bite is a journey into the rich flavors and beauty of Balinese culture for which to be grateful.