The Healing Indonesian Tonic You May Not Have Heard Of — But Might Want To Try This Fall

Founder & author By Metta Murdaya
Founder & author
Metta Murdaya is the founder of JUARA, an award-winning skincare & wellness line inspired by the Indonesian jamu tradition.
This Healing Herbal Tonic Has Been Used For Millennia — Here's How To Make It
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Jamu is the herbal-medicine tradition of the Indonesian archipelago, our cornerstone of healing and healthy living. Emerging from a millennium of experience using this tropical land's abundant botanicals for healing, and enriched with knowledge from throughout the globe, jamu is a story of community, wellness, and self-care.

The term "jamu" specifically refers to natural herbal tonics that people take to maintain good health, prevent illness, and treat ailments. Most Indonesians believe that one should drink jamu daily to stay healthy. And if illness does strike, healers can draw on generations of knowledge and experience to fashion jamu recipes that alleviate symptoms and help the body to fight overall unwellness.

But the idea of jamu encompasses more than healing potions. The jamu tradition states that robust good health is best achieved and maintained by addressing a person's needs as a whole. This includes what you put in yourself, what you put on yourself, how you listen to yourself, and how you seek support and comfort through close connection to a larger community. 

Hundreds of jamu brands, each with a distinct blend of active ingredients and flavoring agents, reflect the cultural diversity of the Indonesian archipelago. Below, you'll find the recipe for this well-being jamu:

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Kunir Asem (The Classic)

Makes 2 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric or ½ teaspoon powdered turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind fruit paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 slice lime
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Coconut sugar, agave, or honey to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chopped ginger or ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)

Method

  1. Blend the turmeric, tamarind, and water (and ginger, if using). You can experiment with the amount of water, depending on how strong you want it.
  2. Stir until fully mixed and bring to a gentle boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the jamu liquid from the pulp and pour liquid into glasses.
  4. Add sweetener.
  5. Add lime and salt to add a little savory flavor, which cuts the tangy, sweet, and grassy flavor.
  6. Serve warm or chilled

Excerpted with permission from JAMU LIFESTYLE: THE INDONESIAN HERBAL WELLNESS TRADITION by Metta Murdaya

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