Drinking jamu, traditional medicinal concoctions made of herbs and plants, has become increasingly disconnected from modern life. We still love the subtle but sensual idea of a traditional seller carrying bottles of jamu on her back, but drinking the healthy homemade fluids is another story.
A wide range of jamu is easily available, even in shopping malls. Jamu was first documented on the carved relief of Borobudur Temple, but today it is mass-produced and nicely packed and consumers can easily buy it from chemists to treat stomachaches, sore throats, gentle fevers and more. Some establishments such as hotels, even five-star hotels, serve jamu in a traditional way as an alluring gimmick.
A hotel in Malang, East Java, takes it one further step by hosting jamu classes to teach people about how jamu is made and what it is used for.
A trip to Pasar Oro Oro Dowo, the town’s traditional market, gave name to the classes.
Oro Oro Dowo Market has been around since the Dutch colonial era. The produce at the market is fresh and the state of order and cleanliness are still very Dutch-like.
While carrying her sleeping baby with a cloth hanging from her shoulder, a lady measured out half an ounce of tamarind for me. Half a kilogram of maroon-colored Javanese sugar and turmeric were also on my list to make Jamu Kunyit Asem, or Turmeric-Tamarind Jamu.
The 10-minute becak drive took me along the mighty Jl. Ijen, the prominent boulevard of Malang. The central column was dressed with flowers of many colors, while the left and right hand of the residential streets were guarded by tall and neatly lined palm trees. The perfect blue sky and soft cotton-like clouds created a picture-perfect morning.
Jamu Kunyit Asem is famous for its benefit to the digestive system and menstruation.
The turmeric is sliced into tiny pieces before it is crushed by hand. That’s if you want to sweat it out and do it the way our great grandparents did. To finish the class quickly, a juicer can be used, while disposable gloves come in handy to protect your skin from kunyit stains.
Meanwhile, tamarind and Javanese sugar are boiled and mixed together with water. After the mixture is cooled, kunyit is added before it is filtered into bottles and glasses. And voilà; it’s ready to combat PMS.
Set in an authentic and mildly dramatized setting, the jamu class is a step back in time to the days where kitchen and backyards also served as pharmacies. The experience is hassle-free, fun, and undoubtedly the healthiest way to relive an ancient Indonesian tradition.
Book your stay and jamu class at www.tuguhotels.com.