Jamu Kunyit

Doug gets very excited with the foods in Asia. We like to book our hotels with breakfast included. Why? Most of the time, the smaller and cheaper hotels have local breakfast served in the morning. This is where we both get very excited, specially waking up to breakfast. Doug won’t wait a minute longer to show up for breakfast and start tasting local dishes. He will eat and try anything! We are usually first for breakfast in the morning and sometimes we have to wait until everything was set-up because we were a few minutes early. Can you imagine what the local Vietnamese server for example, think of Doug all ready to devour their local dishes?

We get it all the time, little Thai or Vietnamese women giggling when Doug eats something weird at the market. They would say, “no, no American eat!” which is a warning that it won’t be something Doug would like but seriously, he is a total local when it comes to eating local cuisines.

In Surabayu, we stayed at a hotel that served us serious local breakfast. We sat down and there was no foreigner at all in the hotel, just Doug. It looks like mostly Indonesians visiting Surabaya and are staying at the hotel. There was a buffet of food starting with some fried chicken, tofu and tempeh. There was rice porridge with all sorts of preserved toppings like pickled vegetables and some minced tofu with spice. The rice cooker was right beside a few vegetable stir fry, tofu curry, mixed curry tempeh etc. Dessert was some rice cakes and gelatinous coconut milk drink.

I was having my coffee first since, I was half awake from jet lag but Doug was already in line for the food. I was just staring at the window looking out to see what Surabaya looked like as a city, nothing special and just another city. Doug came back with a variety of food and started eating. He went for seconds and more later. It describe the spread of food more like lunch but served at breakfast.

I finished my delicious bowl of porridge and got a plate to try the other food on the buffet table. My curiosity sparked when I saw two tall bottles with banana leaf as it’s cork top. I nicely asked the server what those were. She told me it was a traditional drink and Indonesian people drink it every morning. Hmmm, I smiled and with a lot of excitement I poured myself this really orange colored drink and some of the darker brown drink together. I wasn’t sure if those two were suppose to be mixed together but it just felt right to do it. I took a sip and all of a sudden, my tongue felt this spicy sensation and as I swallowed, my throat felt the sting from the ginger juice. Wow!

I looked at the server and with my eyes all lit up with that wonderful sensation, I said, “That’s VERY delicious!” The server smiled, giggled and thanked me. Thanked me?! I should thank her for an introduction to such amazing flavor in a juice. So, I continued to ask her what are the ingredients and with a broken English, she said ginger, turmeric, sugar and tamarind.

Doug asked me what it was and I explained to him the new drink I had discovered at breakfast. It was the most exciting thing ever! He tasted it and loved it, too.

We left Surabaya very early the next morning so I really didn’t get to have the drink which I was so bummed about. On the other hand, I looked it up and in Bali it is also a traditional drink. It is very common, however it was really hard to find or that I was looking at the wrong places.

Our bungalow included breakfast but it was more western but had sliced tropical fruits and their wonderful Java coffee. No, Jamu Kunyit!

The manager told me that there are old men and women at the market that sells them.

Jamu Kunyit, the drink I had is a very common drink in Indonesia and can be served anytime but usually drank in the morning before the start of the day. If you look it up on the web, it tells you all the benefits of drinking the lethal turmeric juice from fighting the common cold to anti-inflammatory characteristics that would help prevent cancer. It is mainly made of fresh turmeric, palm sugar and tamarind boiled and then strained. I love it and when it comes to Ayurvedic drinks, I am crazy about them. It’s delicious.

The other drink which is a slighter darker brown color is the ginger, palm sugar and tamarind drink which is made the same process by boiling then straining but I really like the strong ginger flavor in that drink so combining them is just perfect.

The other day, I was able to find an old man in the market that sold them. Doug and I shared the drink while walking back to our bungalow. Today, I found more of it sold in 500 ml re-used water bottle and we both had that for breakfast! It’s only about $1.50 and it’s really good for you!

We decided to try a new restaurant for lunch today. It’s called Soma Cafe, just a few mins walk from our bungalow. It is a very trendy vegan/gluten free/vegetarian restaurant and frequented by foreigners more than locals. The atmosphere was really nice and the service was great. I browsed their menu to decide what to eat and then, I saw Jamu Kunyit listed in their drink menu. My heart raced and I got excited. It was my second Jamu Kunyit for the day and I asked for extra ginger juice in it! I really like my drink very gingery!

Clearly, I am crazy about this drink and wished we had a kitchen so I can make bottles of it! Turmeric and red ginger is abundant here in Bali, I think also in Indonesia in general. The drink can be done on a Vitamix making it extremely lethal and powerful for a morning wake-up drink!

I also found a really nice instant drink from the small grocery store in Ubud. It’s called Jahe Merah. I looked it up on the web and found a list of fascinating traditional beverages in Indonesia. Jahe Merah is one of them and the instant drink I bought had red ginger, palm sugar, creamer, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric. It was delicious and perfect with coffee. I simply mix it up with my coffee at breakfast.

Unfortunately, the store which was far away from we were staying is the only one that carries the product because I looked in every store in Ubud. We found that grocery store when we we rented the scooter for the day. So, I went to check out the local market bringing my iPhone with me so I can show the shops a picture of what I am looking for and the closest thing I could find were ones in packets. It did say Jahe Merah on one but the ginger was not as strong at the instant one. Although, still very good with coffee and it had a lot more turmeric than ginger.

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