Jamu, a Drink & Ritual, Heals In Multiple Ways

Indonesia has embraced jamu for some 1,000 years as both an herbal beverage and a state of mind.

Appropriately named after the islands, jamu (also called jamu juice) does not have a standard recipe so it can be adapted to whatever ingredients are available, built around turmeric and ginger, two spices renowned throughout Asia for their healing properties.

It’s an elixir some people compare with the status of chicken soup in the U.S., and many imbibe it daily as a preventive measure and the essence of a calming moment taken to care for themselves.

Since 2020, the rest of the world has been waking up to the power of jamu as it searches for healing wherever it can find it, and the drink can have numerous health benefits depending on its ingredients: Turmeric and ginger both contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, while ginger has been used for generations to combat nausea, especially when related to morning sickness and is believed to have antiviral properties.

A simple recipe

Jamu is increasingly being bottled for export as it’s become better-known and more commercialized, but it’s irresistibly easy to make at home because the most common recipes have just a handful of ingredients. It’s traditionally served chilled but can also be consumed warm.

  • 1 cup fresh turmeric, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, cleaned and chopped
  • 4 cups water or coconut water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, from 2-3 limes
  • Pinch of black pepper (optional, but will increase turmeric absorption)

1. Add turmeric, ginger and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan set over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so the mixture simmers for about 15 minutes.

2. Add lime juice and honey.

3. Remove saucepan from heat and add the honey and lime juice. Stir to combine.

4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Then pour the strained mixture into a glass bottle or jar and refrigerate until chilled. Makes 4 servings.

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