Jamu: Natural Immune Booster & Anti-Inflammatory
Jamu is a traditional Indonesian herbal drink that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and immune-boosting benefits.
Almost every household in North Sulawesi has its own Jamu recipe and there are many variations. Almost all Jamu recipes contain some of the same basic ingredients, including ginger, turmeric (fresh is preferred but the powder can also be used), lime juice, honey to sweeten and tamarind paste is also used to give an extra kick.
Optional ingredients that may also be added, according to taste, are cinnamon, lemongrass, lemon juice instead of lime juice and coconut water may even be used as a substitute to a mineral water base.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric (provided by anti-oxidant called curcumin) are more readily absorbed by your body if you (1) Heat the turmeric, (2) Combine it with quercetin rich foods such as onions, peppers or capers, (3) Add a little fat (try coconut oil) or some black pepper. Jamu is not traditionally made with these ingredients but by opting for one of these, you’re likely to experience greater benefits.
Jamu boasts more than just anti-inflammatory properties; turmeric is also known to rejuvenate and repair liver cells; ginger has reported anti-cancer benefits; tamarind aids digestion and turmeric, ginger, and tamarind all have blood purification properties. Coconut water is known as a cure-all in Indonesia and it contains essential electrolytes for rehydration.
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and claim the lives of the elderly and those with poor health and/or compromised immune systems it is now more important than ever to take positive steps to boost your immune defenses. In North Sulawesi, we are extremely fortunate that as the local economy continues to suffer, the ingredients required to make this traditional version, all grow locally in our rich highlands.
Jamu is simple to make and you can experiment with the ratios of ingredients to suit your tastes. Here’s one of our favorite recipes to start with…
Traditional Indonesian Jamu Recipe
- 5 oz fresh turmeric (powder is possible if fresh is not available)
- 5 oz fresh ginger
- 6 cups water (may be substituted with coconut water or half mineral and half coconut water to taste)
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Tamarind paste
- pinch of black pepper or coconut oil (this is not in traditional Jamu but makes the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric more available)
- Slice rinsed ginger and turmeric (leave the skin on). Add water, ginger, and turmeric to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil (covered), reduce heat and simmer for ~ 25 minutes. Transfer to a blenderand add honey, lime, and tamarind paste (may need to do in batches if necessary). Blend it!
- Strain it! Drink hot or allow it to cool and chill in the fridge.
- Your jamu will keep in the refrigerator 5-6 days in a bottle. Shake the bottle gently before using.
- Be careful, turmeric stains clothing that it comes in to contact with so wear an apron and clean up immediately
- If your jamu is too ‘spicy’, reduce the amount of fresh ginger accordingly
- Don’t have or can’t find tamarind paste? This can be overcome by using a little extra lime juice instead
- If you don’t have limes or if you prefer lemon juice, this can be substituted