Family holidays are one of my favourite things, everyone gets a chance to relax, unwind and bond in a way that wouldn’t normally happen as each person went about their busy daily lives. Lataliana Villas was designed for idyllic family holidays. Each guest has their own private bedroom suite with gorgeous indoor/outdoor tropical bathroom and individual relaxation areas so that every family member can have some privacy and personal space.
The sprawling villa centres around stunning communal relaxation areas; there’s a huge free flowing crystal clear swimming pool, outdoor lounge area with surround sound and bbq, indoor lounge area with full electronic entertainment system, a second indoor lounge area with wet bar, piano and snooker table, poolside sun lounges to sink into after a refreshing dip, and a massive hand carved wooden dining table under a shell chandelier that seats up to twenty so the whole extended family and friends can gather for family meals. What more could you possibly ask for? The villa is truly paradisiacal.
The one thing that sometimes mars the perfection of our family holidays is mealtimes. With people of all different ages, tastes and opinions it can be hard to find places we can all eat together where everyone will be happy.
Which is why I was thrilled to learn that Lataliana, one of our favourite private villas in Bali is collaborating with the hottest new Indian restaurant in Seminyak. Because Indian food is the one cuisine that seems to have something for everyone, that is universally loved, and of course lends itself perfectly to family style banquet dining.
Chai’Ba Indian Kitchen and Bar is the brainchild of talented young chef and owner VB. Chai in the Indian language means tea, and Ba means mother, so Chai’Ba roughly translates to ‘mother’s tea’, a phrase that is used to mean “freshly made with love”.
As a child, VB’s love of culinary exploration grew in the city of Rajkot India where his Ba instilled in him a love of food and the knack of creating any dish in a healthy, balanced style. An upbringing infused with cooking and the joy of eating created in VB’s mind an innovative attitude to health and flavour: “I do not believe there is any right or wrong way to style a diet. Like life, balance is important. You must not overwork yourself, just as you should never over eat certain things. Try your best to eat fresh, cook fresh and you will feel fresh”, he says.
In preparation for opening Chai’Ba in Seminyak, VB spent time with his Ba, learning how she used traditional Indian techniques and admiring how much she loves to cook. He attended Dadar Catering Culinary School (Mumbai) and made his bones with hands on experience in a variety of kitchens around the world.
In the setup of the restaurant kitchen at Chai’Ba, you can see a chef who has a deep love of the traditional cooking techniques of his home country, India, as well as an ingrained understanding of the mechanics of professional cooking. The gorgeous tandoor oven that the kitchen team use for grilling meats with that distinctive charcoal grill is a work of art as well as an extremely useful tool for a man who loves to cook for his guests.
Traditionally Indian food is labour intensive and historically it has been a labour of love that the women in the family spent many hours each day performing; chopping and peeling vegetables, roasting and grinding spices, simmering fragrant meat stews, picking fresh herbs – each day, starting very early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day, all these tasks and more would be performed by hand so that the family could enjoy a fresh, healthy, delicious meal together at the end of the day.
VB takes these same principles into his Seminyak restaurant where each day they grate coconuts and make coconut milk fresh for every dish. He talks with pride about how each dish requires its own unique garam masala (spice mix) and how they roast the spices in a wok in the tandoor then grind the blends they need. How he has taught his staff to make fresh paneer (the fresh curd cheese used in many beloved Indian dishes), how the kitchen uses only olive oil to cook with and has no microwave; something that shocks many new chefs that join the team, but he says to them “this way, if you’re going to ruin something, you can only ruin it once!”. And they learn to use better, less lazy cooking practice, which makes for a healthier, more delicious experience for the diner.
The Chai’Ba menu which Lataliana guests can now enjoy banquet style poolside is, to Western eyes, enormous. It contains a huge variety of dishes from both North and South India; everything from Kofta and Korma to Tikka Massala, with vegetables, lamb, king prawn, snapper and chicken. Everything on the menu is halal, no beef or pork are served, and Jain options are available on request (Jain cuisine is completely vegetarian and also excludes underground vegetables such as potato, garlic, onion etc, to prevent injuring small insects and microorganisms; and also to prevent the entire plant getting uprooted and killed).
Some of my family’s all-time favourite Indian dishes include the famous Butter Chicken; slow cooked tender chicken infused in a creamy sauce with the deep flavours of spiced tomato cashew gravy. The hubbie can’t go past a good Rogan Josh; a slow cooked aromatic braised lamb dish of Persian origin, which is one of the signature recipes of Kashmiri cuisine. Rogan means ‘clarified butter’ josh means ‘heat, hot, or passionate. Thus Rogan Josh means cooked in ghee at intense heat. We all love a Goan fish curry; fresh snapper cooked in a tamarind coconut curry sauce.
And I can’t wait to try the Prawn Sukka; a semi dry curry originating from the coastal Indian region, using medium sized prawns cooked with dry roasted spices and coconut milk. Or the Saagwala Gosht; tender Australian slow cooked lamb in blanched spinach gravy with rustic spice flavours, and the Chettinad Lamb Curry; slow cooked boneless lamb in a hot and coconut onion gravy, peppery with whole Indian spices with freshly prepared coconut cashew cream.
That’s what we love about Indian food, so many and varied delicious flavours and textures, there is always something for everyone.
So for my next Bali holiday with my family I am very much looking forward to hanging out at my favourite private pool Seminyak villa with my loved ones. I plan endless days of lazing on the sun lounger poolside in the Bali sunshine while the Lataliana private butler brings me cocktails. I will definitely have a massage in the privacy of my room from one of the fabulous Spa Venus therapists. And as the sun sets and the whole family gathers around the huge antique wooden dining table, for once there will be no squabbles or spats, just blissful peace as everyone enjoys an Indian banquet in the comfort of our private villa.
We can’t wait! Contact the friendly reservations team to make your next holiday booking today.