Abundant in Indonesia, and used in many kind of dishes throughout the country, Turmeric (kunyit/kunir/koneng locally) now runs as the front runners of beneficial spices Indonesia have, with about 600 potential health benefit identified. The core of this powerful property lies in the turmeric's main active ingredients Curcumin.
Among the most amazing demonstrated properties of turmeric include:
Destroying Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
Destroying Cancer Stem Cells
Protecting Against Radiation-Induced Damage
Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Inflammation
Protecting Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer's Disease Associated Pathologies
Furthermore, according to Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs mentioned that it is among the most thoroughly researched plant in existence today, and there's a growing number of studies have concluded that it compares favorably to a variety of conventional medications, including for:
Corticosteroids (steroid medications)
Prozac/Fluoxetine & Imipramine (antidepressants)
Aspirin (blood thinner)
Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug)
Metformin (diabetes drug)
What's wonderful, not only it's beneficial, turmeric also plays important part in many Asian cultures, including traditional Indonesian cuisine.
Fresh turmeric gives off numbing bittery metallic taste at first, peppery -- almost like eating a mint balm, but later it disperses into a pleasant earthy citrus flavor, or curry aroma as you would call it -- for the lack of better explanation -- as curry is one of the dish where turmeric presence is strong. Different with India, in Indonesia, turmeric is rarely used dried or as powder, since it's available throughout the year and very easy to grow. In cookings fresh turmeric gives off less bitter flavor, hence Indonesian version of curry aren't as pungent as Indian curries.
Turmeric in Indonesian Foods
In Indonesia, turmeric are used in food, both for coloring and for its flavour. Its strong staining property lend vibe to Indonesia's favourite dishes Nasi Tumpeng and Nasi Kuning, while its flavour add earthy citrus layer to Indonesia's favourite dishes like Ayam Goreng Bumbu Kuning, Rawon, Sate Padang, and Kari.
Well known for its Lalab & Sambel culture, turmeric rhizome are also consumed fresh in Sundanese culture, while turmeric flower are becoming more frequently appeared in Indonesian fine dining scenes as well as in organic and healthy cooking dishes.
Turmeric in Indonesian Drinks
Long known as a traditional drinks with medicinal property, Jamu is a liquid concoction made up from different spices and herb available in Indonesia. It's medicinal property ranged from treatment of serious diseases related with internal organs like liver, spleen, and heart, into the more relaxing use of lessening cramps women have during their period. More than often, Jamu is also associated with cosmetic beauty as it's believed to smoothen and brighten your skin, including eliminating unpleasant body odours.
Consumed regularly, Jamu helps maintaining health and immunity against diseases, hence if America got "An apple a day keeps the doctor away' here in Indonesia it's "A glass of jamu a day keeps diseases away."
Outside of the heavier presence in complex Jamu mixture, turmeric is usually combined with tamarind and palm sugar to create the refreshing Kunyit Asem drink. Poured over ice cubes, Kunyit Asem combines the metallic citrus bittery flavors of turmeric, with the umami acidic earthy flavors of tamarind and coconutty sweet smoky flavors of palm sugar. Don't forget to taste it next time you're visiting Indonesian restaurant. (byms)
Written by Bayu Amus
A gastronomic storyteller and customer experience designer who created Epicurina food blog. He pens food articles for travel magazines and was part of the team who compiled Makansutra Indonesia 2013, the pocket book showcasing Bali’s best street food.