An oasis nestled amidst the Ubud jungle, glow at the exclusive COMO Shambhala Estate serves up an explosion of colourful, stimulating natural dishes. By fusing an array of flavourful, organic ingredients, glow’s team of culinary maestros will tease and tantalise your taste buds with fresh and healthful foods, designed to nourish, cleanse and energise.
Setting the scene
As I make my may through the wellness retreat to the restaurant, following the stoned pathway and breathing in the blissful surroundings, it’s hard to ignore the abiding tranquility resonating throughout the estate. In the distance, I can hear the soft percussion of a Balinese ceremony, interrupted only by the sounds of chattering tropical birds and chirping crickets. Hanging vines decorate the stoned walls, alive with rich moss and radiating with the embodiment of nature. A faint breeze carries the spicy aroma of incense, flirting with notes of rich earthiness.
The glow restaurant is set beside a nirvana of lush green grass and gentle trickling fountains, seamlessly merging into the surrounding picturesque landscape, furnished with local woods and simple thatching. This uncomplicated design not only allows the natural panorama to speak for itself, but it also depicts the COMO Shambhala’s greater purpose, which is to clear the mind of all but thoughts of better physical, mental and spiritual health.
Bright open kitchens add to the alfresco feel of the dining room, boasting a sweeping view of the surrounding greenery. The smell of spicy tempeh sizzling in a nearby wok permeates throughout the restaurant, and attentive Balinese staff offer welcoming smiles, each with a plumeria flower tucked neatly behind their ear. Browsing the menu, I feel a sense of curiosity and excitement as I am faced with an abundance of differing flavours and ingredients, fused to create impressive concoctions I might never have previously considered. Chocolate and beetroot? Now this I have to try…
I am joined at my elegantly laid table by Food and Beverage manager, Erika Fries. Erika briefs me about the menu, explaining glow’s dedication to serving organic, locally sourced cuisine, delivered from field to table with minimum delay. Beaming with enthusiasm, she describes a number of healthy alternatives found within glow’s dishes, like puréeing cashew nuts to create a decadent, healthy cream, or swapping couscous and white rice for protein-rich, fibrous quinoa.
We begin with an appetizer from the glow Lunch menu; Poached chicken, mango & cucumber salad with fresh coconut, green chilli & coriander chutney. The chicken is divine – impossibly succulent and complimented by a medley of sweet and spicy tinges. To accompany the dish, I sup one of glow’s most popular fresh juices, “Before Sport”. A fusion of mango, young coconut water, papaya and a dash of orange and lime, designed to provide quick energy and nutrients to power your workout. Unfortunately, the only workout I plan on doing is manoeuvring my chopsticks, but the burst of invigorating goodness does not go unnoticed. No healthy dining experience would be complete without a salmon dish, so for my main course I order the Grilled salmon with sumac & fennel crumbs, cauliflower, tomato & cucumber salad, with quinoa & smoky eggplant puree. Cooked superbly and garnished perfectly, this salmon is like no other I have tried before. Zesty and succulent; a symphony of vibrant flavours and textures. Erika reveals a knowing smile as she notices the air of delight in my expression.
I am still intrigued by the prospect of chocolate and beetroot, so for dessert I indulge in the Dark chocolate, almond & beetroot cake, found on the glow dinner menu. The rich velvety chocolate harmonises elegantly with the subtle sweetness of the beetroot, topped off with a mouth-watering tang of refreshing orange & beetroot sorbet. And it tastes even better knowing I don’t have to feel guilty about it…
The Mango & passion fruit “cheese cake” also finds it’s way to my table. The puréed cashew nuts – used as an alternative to cream and cheese – are as heavenly and as exquisite as any other decadent dessert. The light and refreshing macadamia & coconut crust of the cheesecake makes for a welcomed alternative to a heavy, biscuit base – perfect for enjoying in a warm tropical climate.
Truly impressed by the amount of flavour that raw and natural ingredients can provide, I leave the dinner table feeling nourished, satisfied and invigorated. The wholesome cuisine is developed and mastered by Group Executive Chef, Amanda Gale and Executive Chef, Heidi Flanagan. Ranging from south Indian to Italian, with Balinese cooking also making an appearance on the menus, diners can expect to receive innovative and charismatic cuisine, providing nutritional benefits, all served up in a paradisal, natural setting.
The COMO Shambhala Estate
For outside guests dining at glow, you will certainly be tempted to check-in to the exclusive sanctuary. Boasting luxurious residences and built into jungle clearings above the Ayung river, each abode is uniquely private, and no two are alike. Stretching over 23 acres, the all-encompassing wellness retreat offers a spectrum of healing therapies in a stress-free, idyllic environment. Guests are guided and supported in finding a sense of peace and restfulness, by rebalancing mind, body and spirit, and discovering life-long changes to enhance wellbeing. Programmes are meticulously tailored to suit each individual, whether it be transforming your residence to an electronic-free environment for the ultimate escape, or adapting each meal to suit your body’s nutritional demands. The COMO Shambhala’s nutritionist liaises closely between guest and kitchens to ensure all personal specifics are taken care of, so if you choose, you don’t have to lift a finger – other than to manoeuvre your chopsticks, of course.
SPICED FLAKED SALMON WITH CAULIFLOWER, POMEGRANATE AND QUINOA TABBOULEH AND SMOKEY EGGPLANT PUREE
– 1 cup Cauliflower florets
– 1/3 cup Pomegranate seeds
– 4 Spring onions, sliced
– 4 Cherry tomatoes, sliced
– 1/3 cup Cooked quinoa
– 1/4 Lebanese cucumber, cut in half, seeds removed and sliced
– 1/3 cup Mixed chopped herbs such as mint, flat-leaf parsley and dill
– 1 quantity Tabbouleh dressing, approximately
– Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
– 1 Clove garlic, germ removed
– 1/2 teaspoon Sumac
– 2 Tomatoes
– 2½ tablespoons Freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon Pomegranate molasses
– 2 tablespoons Raw apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s
– 1 tablespoon Agave nectar
– 180 ml (¾ cup) Extra virgin olive oil
– 1 kg Eggplant
– 1 Clove garlic, germ removed, sliced
– 2 tablespoons Freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 2 teaspoons Ground cumin
– 60 ml (¼ cup) Extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons Tahini
Spiced Flaked Salmon
– 1 1/4 teaspoons Ground cumin
– 1 1/4 teaspoons Ground fennel
– 1 1/4 teaspoons Ground coriander
– 1 tablespoon Olive oil
– 4 x 140-gram pieces of Skinless salmon fillet
– 1/2 Lemon
– 1 cup Freshly picked wild rocket
– 1 small bulb Fennel, core removed and shaved on a mandolin
– 1 tablespoon Lemon dressing
To Make Tabbouleh
Cut the florets off the cauliflower, discard stems.
Combine cauliflower with remaining ingredients, add enough dressing to moisten.
Season to taste and set aside to allow flavours to develop.
Season with sea salt and a grind of white pepper.
To Make Tabbouleh Dressing
Pound garlic, sumac and a pinch of salt in a mortar with a pestle to a paste, then transfer to a bowl.
Put tomatoes through a juice extractor and catch juice in a jug, you will need 125ml.
Whisk the tomato juice and lemon juice into the garlic paste, then whisk in the pomegranate molasses, vinegar and agave nectar.
Gradually whisk in the extra virgin olive oil.
Season to taste.
To Make Babaganoush
Heat a chargrill over medium heat.
Prick the eggplants with a fork then cook on char grill, turning regularly, until the skin is blackened and charred and the flesh is soft.
Place eggplant in a sieve to cool and drain away excess water.
When cool peel eggplant and squeeze excess water from flesh but do not make it too dry.
Place eggplant, garlic, lemon, cumin, oil and tahini in a blender and blend to a smooth puree.
Season to taste.
To Make Spiced Salmon
Preheat oven to 180C.
Combine spices with a ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Sprinkle the spice mix over 1 side of fish fillets.
Heat a large oven proof frying pan over medium heat, add olive oil and when hot cook the salmon skin side up.
For 3-4 minutes or until golden, turn over and cook a further 2 minutes. Then place pan in preheated oven and cook for 3-4 minutes for medium rare.
Transfer fish to a plate and season with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Rest for 3 minutes.
Spoon the tabbouleh salad down the centre of 4 plates.
Place the spiced salmon on top of the tabbouleh.
Place a quenelle of the eggplant puree to the side.
Toss the rocket and fennel with lemon dressing, season to taste and arrange on top of fish.