published by : wayan purya on January 14, 2016

Making Coconut Oil

The Balinese are very ingenious and utilize many resources from their surrounding environment to support their daily life, and along the way have developed unique cultural traditions.  Methods of cooking food, building houses and temples, and make making cloths are all good examples of this. The Balinese also produce their own cooking oil made from coconuts; the  process is called “Nanusan”.


It starts with choosing the right coconut to get the best oil, and nowadays this oil is also used for spa products. The coconut has to be old enough (the skin color of the coconut is brown) to produce good quality oil, and when the coconuts are taken from their own land the Balinese normally can identify which tree has the best quality fruit. In this case the selection process will be much easier, otherwise the size and the shape of the coconut is taken into consideration. Oval shaped coconuts are better than the round because they have thicker pulp and contain more oil.


Removing the husk (sambuk) of the selected coconut is the next step, sometimes the nut is broken in half with an axe.  The halved coconut is then referred to as  “nyuh gundul” (bald coconut), and is often used for variety of offerings as well. The flesh is then removed along with the liquid and the flesh goes into a grating machine. In older times the Balinese used a traditional tool called a “kikihan”, yet nowadays this is considered ineffective.

The grated coconut, called “usam” is then mixed with warm water and squeezed by hand through a fine cloth sieve to produce the coconut milk or “santan”. The milk is now ready for the boiling process with high heat for about two hours or more. The boiling process in a traditional kitchen (paon) using coconut husks or wood for the fire is believed to get the best results and there will be no waste left after this process. Throughout the boiling process the fire must be constantly manned to ensure the intense heat of the flames remains high.

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The next step is to separate the oil from the top layer of liquid when it cools down using ladle and this is then transferred to another pan and then fried for about 15 minutes to make sure that all the water has evaporated. For those making massage oil flavoring agents are added during this stage. Now the coconut oil is ready to be bottled for use or sold. The rest of the residue, called “roroban” is good for soup and the sediment underneath, called “klengis” is used in a style of cooking where the food is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed, known as “pepes” .

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5 thoughts on “NANUSAN

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