Learn how to easily make this traditional Indonesian jamu kunyit jahe asam that is great to maintain overall health, help to reduce inflammation and to boost our immune system.
My mom has been reminding me to make sure I keep up with drinking ginger tea and also to try making my own jamu. She swears by this to keep her healthy, reduce inflammation and to help her boost her immune system. Now, when there’s not much scientific evidence to back up those claims, the native Indonesian ladies do swear by jamu to rid of illnesses, ailments, keep them slim, and looking youthful.
When I was a kid, I remembered seeing the “mbok jamu (jamu lady)” walked from house to house while yelling out “jamu..jamu..” trying to sell her jamu that she carried in a big and deep bamboo basket on her back by tying it on her waist. She has bottles and bottles of a different kind of juices in there. Some are yellow in color, some are white, some are green, some are brown etc. My mom would sometime buy jamu and she would tell her she needed something to get rid of “wind”. The mbok jamu will pour out these different juices from the bottle to create her “ramuan” (concoction) and pour them into a glass and hand it to my mom to drink.
WHAT IS JAMU
Jamu or known as Djamu (old writing) has been around for hundreds of years. Jamu is made by mixing a different kind of juices typically made from roots such as kunyit (turmeric), ginger, temulawak (Curcuma xanthorrhiza) looks like turmeric but it’s not), lengkuas (galangal), kencur (Kaempferia galanga), and also leaves, flowers, seeds, barks, and fruits. There are many many different kinds of jamu. The ingredients above are just to mention a few that I’m familiar with.
BENEFIT OF DRINKING JAMU
There are too many different kinds of jamu to mention, but I will focus on these three different jamu that are most popular and their benefits. Please note that these are based on what the local believe and no full scientific evidence to support these. So, I have to say that you should consult your physicians if in doubt as this is not to replace professional medical advice.
Jamu Kunyit Asam (Turmeric Tamarind Juice)
Which is what I’m sharing here. I added ginger, black peppercorns and several other different spices that make it even more aromatic and tastes great. It is mainly made with turmeric roots, ginger roots, tamarind (asam Jawa). Some will add lemongrass (serai) and other spices.
Benefit: Aid digestion, reduce inflammation, detox, increase immunity
Jamu Beras Kencur (Rice and Kaempferia Galanga Juice)
This is also one of the very popular jamu in Indonesia. My mom likes this jamu beras kencur. I haven’t had any luck in finding kencur here.
Benefit: increase appetite, helps with gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining)
Jamu Temulawak (Curcuma Juice)
Temulawak belongs to the curcuma family, the same family as the turmeric. In fact, they look like turmeric but taste very bitter. I remember when my brother had a hepatitis B, my mom had him drink temulawak juice for weeks. Temulawak doesn’t “kill” the virus, but it protects the liver. This claim has actually been supported by some scientific publications.
Benefit: protects the liver, aid digestion, relieve symptoms of cold, relieve dizziness
BLACK PEPPERCORNS TO ENHANCE CURCUMIN ABSORPTION
I added black peppercorns to this jamu kunyit asam as well because research has shown that the key active ingredient in turmeric, known as curcumin, is not easily absorbed by our body. The active ingredient in black pepper known as piperine, can enhance the absorption of curcumin. For every 2 mg of curcumin and the addition of 20 g mg of piperine, the absorption of curcumin is greatly enhanced (1). They suggest turmeric to black pepper ratio of 100:1 for effectiveness. For example like in this recipe for 100 gr of turmeric roots you would add about 1 gram (1/2 teaspoon) of black peppercorns.
Jamu is usually made by grinding fresh turmeric roots. It is not common to use turmeric powder. I know it’s more convenient to use turmeric powder, but keep in mind also that less curcumin is found turmeric powder versus fresh turmeric. Fresh turmeric roots are available in the majority of Asian stores. I’ve seen them at our local grocery store that carries some ethnic food
Use fresh ginger roots. Do not use the ginger powder usually calls for in baking. They are less flavorful
TAMARIND EXTRACT (ASAM JAWA)
You can soak regular seedless tamarind in water to soften it, but I find it much convenient to use tamarind extract, which is ready to be used without having to mix with any water
Like I mentioned before that the addition of black peppercorns enhance the absorption of curcumin found in turmeric
OPTIONAL TO ENHANCE TASTE AND FLAVOR
COCONUT SUGAR (GULA JAWA)
Coconut sugar or we call it gula Jawa in Indonesia is a common ingredient used to sweeten food. Coconut sugar is also considered “raw (paleo-friendly)” and not highly-processed like regular white sugar. It also has lower glycemic index if you are concerned about blood sugar. Besides, it has an amazing aroma
Nutmeg powder is added for additional flavor in this recipe but it has its own health benefit too
Cinnamon powder is also added to improve flavor, but we all have heard about the benefit of cinnamon, which I won’t elaborate here anymore
KAFFIR LIME LEAVES
Kaffir lime leaves have a very unique flavor, which you will find being used in many Indonesian recipes
Let’s get started making some Jamu Kunyit Jahe Asam now, shall we?
HOW TO EASILY MAKE JAMU KUNYIT JAHE ASAM
1. WASH TURMERIC AND GINGER ROOTS
Make sure to wash and use a small brush to brush the skin to get rid of dirt really well. There is no need to peel the skin, unless you want to
2. BLANCH TURMERIC BRIEFLY (OPTIONAL)
Place the washed turmeric roots in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 5 minutes and then discard water. This step helps to get rid of that “raw” taste that most people dislike. But this is totally optional. Most jamu is prepared without blanching the turmeric. It’s up to you. Cooking turmeric roots for a short period of time (below 15 minutes), will not destroy its health benefit
It’s especially helpful if you have a powerful blender ( another reason I love my Vitamix blender). Put everything in the blender and blend away until the juice is smooth
Strain the juice through a sieve and discard the solids. Transfer to glass jars or bottles
Jamu is usually served warm in Indonesia. So you can heat it up briefly in the microwave or in the saucepan before consuming. If you prefer it chilled, chill them in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving
HOW TO STORE JAMU
Store the juice in the refrigerator for maximum up to 1 week, the sooner you consume it the better. I won’t recommend freezing because some nutrients and antioxidants may have been lost.
HOW TO SERVE JAMU
SERVE IT AS IS: You can serve it right after you blend it and strain it at room temperature
SERVE IT HOT or WARM: Jamu is usually served warm in Indonesia. You can heat it up briefly in the microwave or pour it in the saucepan to warm it up to your preference
SERVE IT CHILLED: It tastes refreshing when you drink it chilled. My mom will give me an earful if she finds out I drink it cold LOL! Traditional Chinese or Asian like my mom’s generation, swears that drinking cold beverages is not good for health. From Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) point of view, drinking cold beverages can harm your health in a long-term. It’s not good for digestion, our lungs, and it worsens congestion
WHEN TO DRINK JAMU
You can drink jamu at anytime of the day. I usually prefer it in the morning or afternoon on its own before or after breakfast or lunch. My mom has shared with me that a TCM expert has advised her before to avoid ginger at night as it may trigger insomnia in some people. Since this jamu contain ginger, it is best to drink it at day time.
HOW MUCH JAMU TO DRINK
Daily dose of one cup of jamu a day is enough to help maintain overall health. Too much of anything, even if it’s a good thing, is never good for you.
DID YOU MAKE THIS EASY INDONESIAN JAMU KUNYIT JAHE ASAM RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
Indonesian Jamu Kunyit Jahe Asam (Turmeric Ginger Tamarind Juice)
Wash turmeric and ginger roots:
- Turmeric and ginger grow in soil and therefore there are lots of dirts attached to them. Make sure to wash and use a small brush to brush the skin to get rid of dirts really well. There is no need to peel the skin, unless you want to
Optional step to prepare turmeric:
- Place the washed turmeric roots in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 5 minutes and then discard water. This step helps to get rid of that "raw" taste that most people dislike. But this is totally optional. Most jamu is prepared without blanching the turmeric. It's up to you. Cooking for short period of time (below 15 minutes), will not destroy its health benefit
If you use seedless tamarind instead of ready-to-use tamarind extract:
- Mix the tamarinds with 4-5 Tbsp of warm water and mash them with a spoon
- It's especially helpful if you have a powerful blender ( another reason I love my Vitamix blender). Put everything in the blender and blend away until the juice is smooth
- Strain the juice through a sieve and discard the solid. Transfer to a glass jar or bottles
How to serve:
- Jamu is usually served warm in Indonesia. So you can heat it up briefly in the microwave or in the saucepan before consuming. If you prefer it chilled, chill them in the refrigerator for few hours before serving
- Store the juice in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Remember to give it a stir before pouring into a cup as the good stuff tends to settle at the bottom of the bottle/jar