I have been fascinated with the traditional Jamu drink for quite a while now. It dates back almost 1,200 years to ancient Java and has often been likened to Ayurveda. In Indonesia, Jamu is used to address everything from weight gain and a sluggish metabolism to acne, insomnia, fatigue and cough or colds.
And it’s delicious.
The most fabulous part? An all-purpose Jamu recipe needs the simplest of ingredients and can be brewed at home, anywhere in the world. Little surprise then that it’s cropping up on beverage menus Stateside – to much acclaim. But why not just DIY it for the freshest flavors and benefits?
How to make
1. Peel and grate the turmeric, galangal (or ginger)
2. Boil the turmeric, galangal (or ginger) in water for approximately half an hour, till it becomes slightly creamy; add more water if the concoction starts looking a bit dry
3. Cool for a few minutes, then pour it into a blender, add the tamarind and honey; blend until frothy
4. Strain and serve warm; or refrigerate in an airtight bottle
How to drink the Jamu
Jamu is pretty potent and you need just a little bit everyday. I normally make enough for 3-4 days and store it in the refrigerator – simply lightly reheating and drinking a shot glass worth before breakfast and after dinner, every day.
Why it works
First of all, there is turmeric – one of the most powerful healing herbs. Besides being a natural liver detoxifier and kidney cleanser, it also speeds up metabolism, helps in weight loss, is anti-inflammatory, heals damaged skin, busts infections and so much more.
Then there are the twin forces of galangal and ginger. Also anti-inflammatory, they contain a host of anti-oxidants to minimise the damage caused by free radicals and other toxins (created by, say, those barrels of alcohol and larders of meat!). Additional benefits: Galangal and ginger both calm down the stomach, curb indigestion and acidity, and replenish the body’s stores of iron, sodium, vitamins A and C, flavonoids and phytonutrients.
Tamarind is a rich source of dietary fibre, which binds to toxins, bile salts and excessive cholesterol, flushing them out of the body safely and cleanly. It also contains hefty doses of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which inhibits an enzyme that helps the body hold on to fat (hello, weigh loss!). Other scientifically verified health benefits include the ability to reduce inflammation, heal the digestive system, step up blood circulation, maintain nerve function and soothe a whole range of skin issues. Finally, tamarind is also rich in many vital nutrients, including vitamins A, B and C, and iron, all of which get sorely depleted when you’ve been living it up a bit much.
Have you ever tried the Jamu? What’s been your experience with this cure-all drink?