BALI GOOD TO KNOW: Organic Jatiluwih Red Rice Terraces

Just wanted to share this wonderful day off the beaten path in the Jatiluwih terraces of Bali. Grace M. Tarjoto, a socially minded Filipina entrepreneur based in Bali was lovely enough to take us there! 

THE STORY OF JATILUWIH RED RICE

Two decades ago, chemical engineer Grace Tarjoto and her husband Heru, an environmental and tool design engineer, visited Bali and decided to settle there. They chose Jatiluwih in Tabanan as their new home. Jatiluwih happens to be the center of red rice cultivation on the island.

Some local farmers recounted, in the 1970s, farmers in other areas had given up red rice farming, which yields harvest only once a year, because it was far less profitable than growing white rice harvested three times a year using seeds promoted by the goverment as part of the Green Revolution.

However Jatiluwih farmers’ devotion to their red rice stood them in good stead. When paddies throughout Bali were nearly destroyed by the brown planthopper pest hama wereng and had to be rescued by pesticide mass-sprayed from helicopters, the Jatiluwih red rice fields were hardly affected. Heru has a scientific explanation for this.

The Jatiluwih farmers succeeded in fighting hama wereng without resorting to chemical pesticides. Unlike other farmers, they had not eliminatred creatures regarded elswhwere as pests. The birds are free to catch the worms, the frogs eat the insects, the snakes eat the frogs, the eels help keep the soile fertile, and so on.

The Tarjotos realized the farmers were disadvantaged by selling red rice at the same price as white rice since they only harvested once a year. So Heru designed a mill which allowed the red rice to keep it’s red-gold husk while shedding all the unwanted dirt, making it a delicacy. They were then able to buy the rice at a higher price from the farmers, who were delighted at the improvement to their lives, and distribute the rice throughout the country.

It was a couple of hours drive to Jatiluwih, but the drive was pleasant and pleasant – not too hot. Grace was such a gracious host buying us so many things to munch on a long the way! (So pinoy!) We also stopped by for some Sate Babi (pork sate) along the way to go with the lunch that she has prepared. We stopped by this corner at Warung Sate Plecing (if I am not mistaken) and the aroma was so delicious it made us all hungry!

We also saw this woman selling rambutan. How can we resist? They were so red and juicy! Our baon: beef chicharon & rambutan

Jatiluwih is just beautiful – the scenery is lush and green while the weather is nice and cold. The terraces look like miniature versions of the spectacular 2000 year old Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines – which is said to be the 8th wonder of the world & a UNESCO World Heritage Site & sadly List of World Heritage in Danger. (Click here to read more about Banaue Rice Terraces)

GOOD TO KNOW:

Foreign tourists visiting Jatiwulih are charged Rp10,000 (US$1.18) each to see the ricefields, and are issued with tickets printed by the regency government. According to this article & Grace’s comment on said article as of Dec 2011 (Grace is also the founder of Jatiluwih Organic Red Rice Association of Farmers) the Jatiluwih organization does not receive any percentage of the entry fee earnings. Despite their terraces being the main attraction for tourists to visit Jatiluwih.

We finally arrived for lunch at the home of Grace and Heru. I just can’t stress enough how beautiful and calming it was to be surrounded by such natural beauty!

Lunch was a delicious healthy feast! Red Rice fried two ways (nasi goreng), both equally declicious,sauteed bans, fried tofu with pork sate. This rice’ taste and texture is so yummy that I almost forgot that I was eating healthy red rice!


We enjoyed lunch with Jatiluwih Red Rice TEA, which was prepared two ways: hot and iced. It’s my first time to encounter red rice tea. I absolutely love it’s fragrant nutty flavor. It’s another way to enjoy the many health benefits of red rice which is good for the following ailments:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • cancer
Jatiluwih Red Rice Tea is not really sold in many places, because only very little is produced. It is roasted for longer and is even more fragrant than the  Jatiluwih Red Rice. Thank you so much Tita Grace for giving us some!
The Jatiluwih Red Rice however can be found in supermarkets in Bali and some supermarkets in Jakarta like KemChicks.

After lunch Grace showed us the temple  and the unspoilt natural spring that irrigates the Jatiluwih terraces.

We noticed these red plants around  Jatiluwih. According to Grace the red color is the natural scarecrow of the terraces. How awesome is that?
We most definitely enjoyed our time with Grace, her Japanese husband Pak Heru and their cute dog. We learned a lot about organic red rice and how enjoyable it can be. Normally TD and I are not really fans of red rice, however Jatiluwih Red Rice is different from all the other red rice I’ve tried. It tastes better, is more fragrant and the texture is better too. If you get a chance to try this rice I highly recommend it! I could never make TD eat red rice until I introduced him to  Jatiluwih Red Rice.

We tried to visit the waterfalls that Grace is also developing but the dark rain clouds came and water came pouring down. I got to snap this picture of the mountains before it poured. Do you see the outline of the three south central Balinese mountains that are the backdrop of Gunung Sari village, Jatiluwih?More food! Corn bought from the side of the road on the way to the lake nearby. Sayang (too bad) it was raining and the view of the lake was gray.

Thanks again Tita Grace and Pak Heru for the wonderful day, the Jatiluwih Red Rice and Tea! I’m so happy we finally found red rice that we like! I am proud to have met a fellow Filipino making a difference by helping the Jatiluwih farmers continue their heritage & culture of organic farming by purchasing it at fair prices then bringing and marketing the health benefits of this special strain of red rice to other places around the world.

For you blog readers out there If you get a chance to visit Jatiluwih or to try its organic red rice – GO FOR IT! You will love it!

Click here to read why Jatiluwih red rice is called Food of the Gods and why the Jatiluwih paddy fields has been proposed as one of the world cultural heritage sites.

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Lovely comments

  1. Chuzai Living says

    The sate babi looks amazing! I love the photos you took. Nice lighting. All the photos are beautiful. They are like scenes in the movie “Eat Pray Love”. Jatiluwih Red Rice Tea sounds nice. The Jatiluwih red rice with corn looks yummy!! What a trip you had!

    • diplomaticwife says

      Hi Norman, how do you know Grace and Hero? They really are so lovely. We enjoyed our time with them! And I am inspired by their drive for organic living and helping out the farmers of Jatiluwih.

  2. indrabhaskara says

    Hi there, Grace and her husband Heru are very warmhearted people I’ve ever met. I did my field research in Jatiluwih and both of them were very helpful. They introduced me to local people. I have a special section about her in my Phd Thesis and I cited your blog as my source and include it in my bibliography.

    • diplomaticwife says

      Hello! They are lovely people indeed and how nice of them to help you out with your research! I am honored that you thought my blog worthy of being cited in your Thesis. Thank you Indrabhaskara.

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