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Indonesian Jamu Recipe (Turmeric Ginger Herbal Drink)

Indonesian Jamu Recipe
Foto: Lorna P

Jamu is a herbal drink used to treat ailments like insomnia and headaches. Read on to learn about the many different types of jamu and how to make it.

Jamu, a medicinal herbal drink, is believed to have originated in Indonesia over a thousand years ago. Images of it can be seen in ancient stone carvings on the island of Java. The world’s largest Buddist temple,  Borobudur, thought to have been constructed in the year 825, contains evidence of jamu.

Traditionally, jamu is homemade and sold by women who carry it in glass bottles in baskets on their backs or on bicycles. They consider their customers’ health problems and choose the relevant jamu for them. These days, commercially produced bottles of jamu are available in Indonesian supermarkets. They can also be found in pill or powder form, which must be mixed with water.

There are many kinds of jamu, made from natural ingredients derived from roots, bark, flowers, and herbs and spices. Different varieties of jamu are used to treat a range of health problems. 

What Ailments Does Jamu Treat?

Curcuma is a common ingredient in jamu.
Curcuma is a common ingredient in jamu.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / SoFuego)

The specific jamu you choose depends on what health problems you want to address. All varieties are made using different natural ingredients and come in assorted colors. Jamu drinks are slightly thick and sometimes bitter.

Types of jamu include:

  • Uyup-uyup. Made with ginger, turmeric, galangal, curcuma and puyang chili, it is used to increase breast milk production and reduce bloating and body odor.
  • Puyang Chili (Cabe Puyang). This spicy jamu, made from puyang chilis and spices, is used to treat fatigue, and aches and pains. 
  • Betel Key (Kunci sirih). Containing betel leaves and the fingerroot rhizome, this version is consumed to strengthen teeth, eliminate body odor and reduce vaginal discharge.
  • Sinom. This blend of young tamarind leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar and nutmeg is used to aid stomach inflammation and ulcers and increase appetite.
  • Saffron-Colored Rice (Beras kencur). A popular fresh and sweet-tasting option, people drink this to increase stamina and appetite and reduce aches and pains. It contains rice, ginger, saffron and tamarind. 
  • Bitter (Pahitan). The bitter sambiloto leaf and moonseed in this jamu are thought to prevent the risk of diabetes, increase appetite and reduce aches and pains. It is popular among the elderly.
  • Javanese turmeric (Temulawak). This jamu is made with tamarind, ginger, pandan leaves, cumin and palm sugar. It is taken for dizziness, nausea and colds.

Jamu is traditionally made with a pestle and mortar, but these days you can use a blender. Read on for a popular, tasty jamu recipe.

Jamu Recipe: Turmeric Ginger Herbal Drink

Drink jamu to reduce your aches and pains naturally.
Drink jamu to reduce your aches and pains naturally.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Brett_Hondow)

Turmeric ginger jamu is a well-loved variation of this healthful beverage. Drink it to reduce inflammation, improve digestion and soothe aches and pains. Its high antioxidant content is also good for your skin. It can be enjoyed warm or over ice.

Yield: 8 cups


  • 3/4 cup ginger, rinsed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup turmeric, rinsed and peeled
  • 4 cups water 
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Maple syrup to taste


  1. Lightly peel, wash and thinly slice the ginger and turmeric.
  2. Blend the sliced ginger, turmeric and water in a blender until smooth.
  3. Bring the mixture to boil in a pan on the stove. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice and maple syrup and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Allow the drink to cool.
  6. Strain the liquid through a sieve to remove the bits of ginger and turmeric. 
  7. Pour into a glass bottle or jar and store in the fridge. Drink within a week.

Enjoyed this recipe? Learn how to grow turmeric at home for an unlimited supply! For a more creamy and warming take on a turmeric drink, check out our guide on turmeric latte, or “golden milk”.

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