Turmeric – a spice more precious than gold


Jamu – the traditional Indonesian art of herbal medicine, uses turmeric in the preparation of an unusual drink used for toning and cleansing: Kunit Assam (Kunyit Asam), which has an unusual colour (sunset gold), an unusual taste (rather tart, sweet-and-sour) and some pretty unusual effects…

The lucky (such as myself, presently) who live in areas where both tamarind and turmeric can be sourced fresh, and (btw, if you don’t yet, please do begin to make use of this wonderful opportunity) have access to ingredients with a unique intensity of aroma and flavour. If you are not as lucky as that, don’t worry, as tamarind paste from a jar and turmeric powder will do the trick; while not as flavourful as the fresh version, it has similar healing properties.

Jamu uses a variety of turmeric called Temu Lawak. As with other varieties, it’s good for the digestion and aids the removal of gallstones. It is used to treat diarrhea, constipation, muscle cramps, fever, skin problems, circulatory and liver problems. It is also good for healthy milk production in mothers and an effective treatment of vaginal discharge. Indonesian woman drink tumeric on a daily basis, rightly believing in its blood purifying properties and its ability to remove toxins, as well as for slimming.


  • 1 large or 5 small pieces of turmeric root (or about 2 tablespoons of powdered turmeric);
  • 2 tamarind flesh balls – seedless (or 1 tbsp tamarind paste);
  • Coconut or palm sugar, according to taste;
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of water.


Peel and grate turmeric, mix the remaining ingredients and add water. Slowly bring to the boil and remove. Strain before serving. Drink hot or cold.

The priceless properties of turmeric

Turmeric is the most widely used spice in India, the heart and soul of every curry. It is also used in religious ceremonies, as well as a medicine, a textile dye and as a cosmetic. Hindus prepare a paste of milk and turmeric (for oily skin), or cream and turmeric (for dry skin) for facial cleansing and smoothing the skin. When applied to the bodies of brides it gives the skin an extraordinary radiance, and mixed with water it is used as a body hair remover.

I’ll admit I’ve yet to summon up the courage to try it on my skin, for fear it might simply turn it yellow, and so far now I am sticking with internal use only.

Laboratory research confirms what people have known for thousands of years about the positive effects of turmeric; the most important of which are its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic qualities. It is also used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion, colic, liver disease, hepatitis, chickenpox, scabies and arthritis. It relieves asthma, coughs and sore throats (dissolve 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water and gargle.) It is a natural antibiotic, helps in the treatment of diabetes (capsules) cleanses the skin (eczema and hives) and lowers cholesterol.

It’s good to keep all the above in mind – and to make turmeric an essential part of your diet; not only for its fine taste but also as a safeguard against many conditions. Small amounts can be added to Indian (dal, curry), Thai or Indonesian dished, soups, vegetables, beans, meat, porridge or rice. It’s also good to add to food which tends to cause wind; as well as to high-protein meals.



translated by Mark | (polish version)


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