Top 10 Famous Spices in Indonesia (#5 is Precious)

As a country with fertile soil Indonesia is a perfect place for various kind of plantations to grow, especially spices. Indonesian spices are not only popular between the Indonesian but also get acknowledgement from international world. Spices are important ingredients for remedy, cooking, beverages, etc. Spices have very strong taste and aroma, it was an expensive trade commodity in the past. So here are the list of 10 popular spices in Indonesia.

Before go to the explanation about Indonesian spices, you may also want to see:

1. Clove

Indonesia is the biggest clove producer in the world, it grows well especially in Maluku and Ambon. Due to its distinctive taste, people in Europe and Asia uses clove as an additional ingredient for food flavoring. Clove also can be a remedy for those who have allergic towards cold weather.

The folk tells that Chinese Emperor assigned those who want to meet him to chew cloves so they will have good breath, also Portuguese valued cloves at the price of gold in the past. Here in Indonesia cloves are commonly used as raw materials for clove cigarette.

See also : Native Plants of Indonesia

2. Pepper 

Pepper is an original spice comes from Indonesia with Lampung as the highest pepper producer in Indonesia. The spicy flavor can warm our body and its strong aroma can be the cure for influenza. In general there are two kinds of pepper which is white and black pepper but white pepper or merica used more often by Indonesian.

Almost 80% of Indonesian pepper commodity is being exported to foreign countries, it is nominated as the king of spice in early 2000s however there is a decline in 2005 due to the rise of Vietnam as a pepper producer competitor. Therefore Indonesia still securing its place as the second biggest pepper exporter in the world after Vietnam. You may want to read about Herbs in Indonesia

3. Cinnamons

This spices are not only processed as cooking ingredients but also used as a blood sugar controller, relieving headache for rheumatic patient, and infection prevention. Cinnamon’s aroma is very sharp, sweet, and also quite spicy, can be found in several regions in Indonesia. It has elips-shaped leaves, grayish tree skin, and has height about 5 to 15 meters.

There are four types of cinnamon which is Ceylon, Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje which are popular for commercial purposes. As for Indonesia it is the chief producer of cassia cinnamon, cassia cinnamon is a hard bark that has sharp smells, spicy, and quite bitter.

4. Ginger

Ginger is commonly used as a food or beverage mixture to make human body warm during cold weather. Indonesian use ginger for foods, make a traditional herbal drink, and making wedang jahe. Not only in Indonesia this spices are nominated as an important spices for Europeans which need to get through cold winter.

There are 3 kinds of ginger which is white ginger or jahe emprit for foods and traditional herbal drink, jahe gajah or yellow ginger as food’s spices, and red ginger for medicines and to make ginger oil.

See also : Indonesian Herbal Medicine

5. Nutmeg

Dutch was controlling Indonesian nutmeg plantation in Banda Island during colonialism. Besides used as a cooking ingredient nutmeg also used as medicine to several diseases including pes.

Therefore Dutch really saw Indonesian Nutmeg as an important spices which worth to be protected from other countries. Back then nutmeg is only grew in Banda island because it only grows in fertile and quite dry soil in the middle of tropical climate.

Nutmeg was a popular and expensive trading commodity even since Roman Empire. This dioecious plant has slim elips leaves, lemon-like fruit, yellow-colored, and has distinctive aroma because it contains atsiri oil.

6. Cardamom

Cardamom (in Indonesian language: kapulaga) is  one of the famous spices in Indonesia. Unlike the other spices above, cardamom used more as traditional medication ingredient such as to cure stomachache, cough, etc. There are two types of cardamom is Indonesia: Java cardamom (Amomum compactum) & India cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).

Cardamom is nominated as one of world most expensive spices after saffron and vanilla therefore not only in Indonesia but India and Guatemala become cardamom exporters. Cardamom is at the same price with gold in the international trade, the black cardamom used as an ingredient to make curry meanwhile the green one is an additional ingredient to coffee, tea, and cookies. You may want to read about Prohibited Medicines in Indonesia

7. Curcuma

Curcuma is a rhizome plant and include in ginger family, we know that each ginger family is well-known for its ability to produce traditional herbs to cure several diseases.

Curcuma grows in tropical and sub-tropical climate such as Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, China, and Japan. This spices are becoming popular not only in Indonesia but also outside.

People in Bangladesh use curcuma juice to cure toothache and dandruff, Chinese people use curcuma to cure several illness such as: rheumatic, high blood pressure, ulcer, stomachache, etc. Japanese people use it to cure sleeping disorder and stress, meanwhile Indonesian has been using it to make traditional medicines or traditional drinks named jamu. Read more about Indonesia Jamu

8. Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a spices which has no flavor but it is a seasoning to make the cooking smells good. It has elongated shape like a grass with a thich skin, sometimes it has yellow or green color. Lemongrass contains sitronela which is effective as mosquito repellent.

Besides, lemongrass oil can relieve bloated stomach, skin moisturizer, and to prevent body odor. You can drink lemongrass tea to get a healthy digestion system, it is composed of particles which can kill bacteria and parasites in digestive system. You may want to read about Traditional Indonesian Appetizers.


  • Candlenut : Candlenut can be found in aevery region but it is mostly found in Sumatera, Java, and Kalimantan. Candlenut used to add savory flavor to foods or as the substitute of coconut milk. People in Sumatera use candlenut often to cook delicious foods, read about Appetizing Traditonal Food from Sumatera
  • Kemukus : This is an endemic spices from Indonesia but even some Indonesian people do not know about this spices. Kemukus is another cooking ingredients found in Java and Sumatera. Kemukus is good to cure pain, improve digestive function, nausea, and hiccups.

Those are only a little bit explanation about popular spices in Indonesia. Actually there are more spices which is not only famous in Indonesia but also in foreign countries, spices have many benefits that is why many people in the world are using it for several purposes.