25 Spice Plants in Southeast Asia


Southeast Asian countries are a different region from other countries, especially the Middle East and European and American countries.

Southeast Asian countries are blessed with fertile soil that is overgrown with various kinds of plants with a million benefits, one of which is spices. Spices are the aromatic and strong flavor of the plant.

In general, for indigenous people, spices are used in three ways, namely as flavoring (flavoring), preservatives and as traditional medicine. Spices have long been known as high-value commodities.

Spices were also items that were highly sought after in pre-colonial times, because they were used as a panacea for several chronic diseases, but after the advanced world of medicine, their use immediately began to decrease.

Currently, Indonesian spices are widely used as traditional medicinal products, beauty products, pharmaceuticals, cooking spices, perfumes, soaps and many more. Indonesia is known by other countries as a producer of the highest quality spices.

History of World Spices

Speaking of spices, we must also know their relationship with the era of exploration carried out by several European countries around the 15th century. The story is that when the Ottoman Empire rose, the Byzantine Empire was defeated, which was marked by the capture of the city of Constantinople.

With the seizure of constantinople, the entrance to the only silk route connecting the east and the west was controlled by Turkey. The existence of high tax levies on merchandise (including spices) passing through the city, prompted some European countries to find other routes to the spice-producing centers directly, via sea routes.

Especially after the discovery of the compass, the Europeans began to venture far away. Some of its pioneers include: Bartholomew Dias and Vasco da Gama (finding a route to Hindustan via the Cape of Good Hope), Christopher Columbus (taking the opposite route to Vasco, and discovering the unexpected, namely the new continent that would later be called America), Ferdinand Magellan (discovering the route that can cross the American continent, namely through the southernmost route of America, namely the Magellan Strait).However, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2002), it was the Victoria ship from Ferdinand Magellan that actually got to Maluku around 1519 and returned to Spain victorious, the ship full of cloves and other spices.

Meanwhile, the country that had long colonized Indonesia, the Netherlands, only arrived in the East Indies (Indonesia) in 1598 and returned with 600 thousand pounds of spices and other East Indies products. After that, the Dutch formed an East Indies trading partnership or VOC to monopolize the trade in spices originating from the archipelago to be sold to Europe.

One of the characteristics of Indonesian cuisine is the abundance of spices it contains. Call it rendang, this dish from West Sumatra uses approximately 15 spices and spices, ranging from cumin, nutmeg, coriander, turmeric, turmeric leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, curly red chilies, large red chilies, onions. white, onion, hazelnut, and tamarind. The following types of spices and seasonings can be found in Southeast Asia.

Spice Plants in Southeast Asia

1. Lemongrass

Spice Plants in Southeast Asia

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a plant belonging to the grass family (Poaceae), which is often used as a spice in the kitchen to scent food.

Apart from giving aroma to food, this type of spice is often used as an aroma enhancer in some traditional drinks. Lemongrass is usually used in the form of bars (fresh), dry, or powder. Lemongrass can also be used to repel mosquitoes, either the plant or the oil.

And growing lemongrass is very easy, so you can practice it.

2. Chili

Chili is the fruit of a flowering plant that is in the eggplant family (Solanaceae). Chili can be classified as a vegetable or a cooking spice, depending on how it is used.

As a spice, chili is used to give a spicy flavor to a number of dishes in the archipelago, while as a vegetable, for example, chili is used as a “10th staple food ingredient” in Padang dishes.

The spicy taste in chilies is due to the content of the capsaicin compound, which is the active compound component of chili, which is a plant of the Capsicium type. This substance is irritating to mammals, including humans and produces a burning sensation in any tissue it comes in contact with.

3. Steam

Kemukus (Piper cubeba) is a plant belonging to the betel family (Piperaceae), which is grown for its fruit and essential oil. This endemic plant of Java and Sumatra is very well known in the world as Java pepper to be used as a spice called black pepper.

The steamed fruit is generally harvested before cooking and then dried. Steamed is often sold as a dried fruit that still has a stalk, so it is often referred to as a tailed pepper. Steamed seeds are dull white, hard and oily. Important uses of cubeb are as a food flavoring and as a source of essential oil.

Kemukus is usually used for the main ingredients of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medicines, food and perfume. Because of the many benefits, this type of spice is exported to many countries such as Europe, Japan and other countries. Domestically, the price is around 40 thousand per kilogram, but if it has entered the export market the price is many times higher, let alone sold in the form of oil or powder.

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) is a type of spice that is very aromatic, sweet and spicy. This plant belongs to the camphor-kamferan (Lauraceae) family which is widely used in the culinary field, such as baked goods and hot drinks.

This exotic spice is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree which is process dried. This spice is usually sold in rolls or powder. Domestically the price is up to 70 thousand per kilogram and swells when exported abroad.

Cinnamon is also one of the oldest cooking spices used by humans. At least, this spice has been used in ancient Egyptian civilization about 5000 years ago and was mentioned in several Bibles.

From a health perspective, cinnamon is often used as a traditional medicine as a dietary supplement and an antidote to various diseases. The use will be very beneficial if mixed with honey, can treat arthritis, skin disorders, heart and flatulence.

5. Cardamom

Cardamom is a type of spice that is produced from several plants of the genus Amomum and Elettaria in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). These two plant genera are endemic to several South and Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan.

Usually cardamom is used for flavor additives, traditional medicine and other manufacturing industries.

Cardamom seeds are in the form of small pods, triangular sliced ​​cross section and spindle-shaped coils with a thin outer shell and small black seeds. In Indonesia, there are two types of this spice, namely Javanese cardamom (Amomum compactum) and Indian cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). It should be noted that cardamom is currently the third most expensive spice in the world, after saffron and vanilla.

6. Nutmeg

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) is a tree from the Myristiceae family that thrives in the Banda Islands, Maluku. In its day, this type of spice has a high commodity value since the time of the Roman Empire. Nutmeg is also mentioned in Pliny’s encyclopedia (writer, observer, philosopher and commander of the Roman imperial land fleet)

Before being marketed, the seeds are dried in the sun to dry after being separated from the fuli (outer shell of nutmeg). This drying takes six to eight weeks (traditionally dried). The inside of the seed will shrink in this process and you will hear a sound when the seed is shaken. The innermost shell of the seed is broken and the inside of the seed is sold as nutmeg.

This type of spice contains 7-14% essential oil. This oil is used as a mixture of perfume or soap. Meanwhile, nutmeg in the form of powder is often used as a flavoring for bread or cakes, puddings, sauces, vegetables and refreshments (for example Eggnog, a sweet European drink).

In addition, the nutmeg plant is rich in benefits, including the nutmeg which consists of its skin which can be used as an additional ingredient for mosquito repellents; the meat which contains a lot of nutrients can be used as a base for making various types of food and beverages such as sweets, syrups and candy; The seeds, mace and leaves are often used as the main ingredients for making essential oils.

The nutmeg produced by Indonesia is considered the best in the world. Nutmeg is exported to many countries as an ingredient in the cosmetics, health and food industries. Now, the largest nutmeg producing areas are in North Sulawesi and South Aceh.

7. Vanilla

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is a plant from the orchid family (Orchidaceae) whose fruit is taken to be made into vanilla powder. This powder is usually used as a deodorizer for various types of food and beverages.

In general, there are three types of vanilla spices currently cultivated around the world,

Vanilla planifolia, is vanilla that thrives in tropical regions such as Madagascar, Reunion, and the Indian Ocean region.
Vanilla tahitensis, is vanilla that is growing fertile in the South Pacific region, and
Vanilla pompona, is vanilla that thrives in Central America, Latin America and the western Indian Ocean.

Although the vanilla plant was first discovered in Mexico, Indonesia itself also cultivates this type of spice which is quite expensive. Domestically, the price of vanilla is around 650 thousand rupiah per kilogram, but for the export market with the best quality vanilla, it is priced at around 9.8 million per kilogram.

8. Pepper

Pepper, also known as pepper (Piper nigrum), is a plant that is rich in beneficial chemicals, and is slightly bitter, spicy, warm and antipyretic (can reduce heat).

Before the Dutch occupied the archipelago, this type of spice has been traded since hundreds of years ago. Pepper from Indonesia has a lot of interest, and before the second world war broke out, it controlled 80% of the world share. However, as market demand can grow rapidly, currently Indonesia is only able to meet 13% of world demand.

In Indonesia, there are approximately 40 species of pepper plants, for example on the island of Sumatra which are widely grown: Belantung, kerinci Lampung small leaves (LDK), broad leaf lampung (LDL), Merapin, Chunuk and Jambi; on the island of Kalimantan the types: Bengkayang; in Java LDK and LDL, and so forth.

9. Andaliman

Andaliman is a typical Asian cooking spice that comes from the outer skin of the fruit of several plants from the citrus family (Rutaceae). This type of spice can be found in Batak culinary delights, so that people outside the region know it as “batak pepper”.

Batak specialties such as arsik and saksang require andaliman as an irreplaceable spice. Andaliman has a soft citrus-like aroma but “biting, causing a dry or numb sensation on the tongue (although not as hot as chili or pepper).

The feeling of numbness or “numbness” in the tongue is caused by the presence of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool in the spice. Apart from the Batak cuisine, the use of andaliman is used in dishes in some eastern and southern Asia, such as India.

10. Candlenut

Candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) is a plant whose seeds are used as a source of oil and spices. This type of spice is closely related to cassava and is included in the Kastuban family (Euphorbiaceae).

In trade between countries, kemiri is known as candleberry, indian walnut, or candlenut. The tree is known as the vanish tree or kukui nut tree. The oil extracted from the seeds is useful in various industries, for example: in the paint industry as a mixture, in the health industry as a mixture of hair fertilizers or skin moisturizers.

In Indonesia alone, the most candlenut producing areas are located in the Province of NTT. The price of peeled hazelnut is valued at around 40 thousand per kilogram. However, if it has been processed into candlenut oil, the selling price will increase to Rp 700 thousand per kilogram.

11. Cloves

Cloves or cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are part of the flower buds of the guava tree family (Myrtaceae). Cloves are a type of native Indonesian spice that has long been sought after by western countries because they are widely used as a spice in spicy dishes in a number of European countries and as an ingredient in cigarettes (kretek cigarettes).

Based on the morphology of cloves in Indonesia, it can be classified into three types:

The original Maluku cloves, namely cloves of the Afo, Tibobo, Tauro, Sibela, Indari, Tears, Dokiri and Puffer leaves.
Wild cloves, namely the King, Amahusu, and Bogor forest cloves.
Cultivated cloves, namely zanzibar, snail, sikotok and ambon types of cloves.

Cloves are one of the spices that are often used as a preservative agent for food and medicinal plants, because cloves have antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, so cloves are often used as an antiseptic and anti-fermentation. Cloves can also be used as a disinfectant, analgesic and anesthetic in cavities.

Currently, cloves are widely used to produce cigarettes, cosmetics, and health. Domestically, this type of spice has a selling price of around Rp. 120 thousand per kilogram (for dry cloves), but if sold abroad the price can jump up to half a million rupiah per kilogram.

The clove tree is endemic to Maluku Province, especially in the Banda Islands. Apart from Indonesia, this tree also thrives in Madagascar and has been cultivated in Zanzibar, India and Sri Lanka.

12. Fennel

Fennel has long been known as a spice and medicinal plant. As a spice, fennel gives heat and warmth to cooking and as a medicine, fennel is used as an important component in making telon oil.

Although the origin of the fennel plant is from the Mediterranean, now it is widely grown in a number of countries, including Indonesia. This type of spice has a fragrant smell with a plant height of about 50 cm-200 cm, is bright green and upright.

13. Coriander

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is a type of spice that was first discovered in southern Europe, to be precise around the Caspian Sea, and its plants belong to the fennel family (Apiaceae).

In the drug trade, cilantro is known as fructus coriandri. The cilantro is small, 1-2 mm in diameter on average, similar to a peppercorn but smaller and darker. Sold as dry or powdered seeds.

Various types of traditional Indonesian dishes often use this cooking spice. With coriander, the aroma of cooking will be more fragrant, soft and real. In order to last longer, coriander seeds should be roasted until they are browned, crushed and stored in a tightly closed container.

14. Bay leaves

Salam is classified as a (Myrtaceae) plant, which leaves a lot of its leaves as a mandatory spice for some Indonesian dishes with soup, for example curry, soup, sayur lodeh, etc. Bay leaves give a fragrant aroma and can reduce the fishy smell of fish and seafood based foods.

15. Ginger

Spice Plants in Southeast Asia

This type of spice is very popular among housewives, because of its function that can provide a warm and delicious effect on cooking. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant that has the shape of a rhizome, its fingers are swollen and jointed.

Because it has a warm and soothing effect, ginger is widely used as a medicinal ingredient. The warm effect of ginger is caused by a ketone compound called zingerone. In traditional cooking, ginger is usually mashed, chopped or cut to the size of a finger and flaked.

16. Galangal

Still classified as discoveries, galangal or laos (Alpinia galanga) is a type of spice whose texture is almost similar to ginger, only the color is lighter, reddish and the meat is a bit tough when cut.

Galangal is used by crushing it first before being mixed with cooking. This type of spice is usually used for cooking with coconut milk, tamarind and stir fry.

17. Turmeric

Turmeric or turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a type of spice native to the Southeast Asian region and is classified as a plant (Zingiberaceae). For the people of Indonesia, turmeric has become one of the mandatory kitchen ingredients for several traditional dishes, ranging from pepes, curry, stews to yellow rice.

Apart from being a cooking spice, turmeric is also used as one of the main ingredients of the herbal medicine carrying. The trick, grated turmeric mixed with warm water, then squeezed it to leave the essence of turmeric (herbal turmeric). The herb turmeric has a healthy function for internal organs, especially intestinal tissue to keep it healthy.

18. Kaempferia galanga

A relative of turmeric, Kaempferia galanga is a healing herb that is widely used as a safe tonic and stimulant.

The use of Kaempferia galanga in several Indonesian foods is believed to have a positive effect on the body (tonic), such as increasing appetite, treating infections and internal inflammation, increasing the immune system, preventing cancer, providing a sensation of calm (stimulant) and containing lots of minerals and vitamins

19. Tamarind

Tamarind is a type of sour fruit, and belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae). This type of spice is commonly used as a spice mixture in typical Indonesian dishes, for example in tamarind and Pempek vegetables. Tamarind is also often used for a mixture of traditional herbal medicine, which is carried by the arms.

Tamarind pulp is very popular in various parts of the world, because of its very sour taste. Ripe fruit can be stored long after peeled and slightly dried with the help of the sun.

20. Lime

Spice Plants in Southeast Asia

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is a type of spice in the form of small yellowish green fruit and fresh and fragrant sour taste. The flesh of the fruit is greenish white, very acidic and contains lots of vitamin C and citric acid and essential oils.

Lime is usually given to foods with soup to give it a fresh and fragrant taste. The trick, halved lime and squeezed the water only. Apart from making food tastier, this spice is also useful for losing weight, improving digestion, good for the skin and preventing cancer.

21. Kaffir lime

Another plant from the citrus family (Rutaceae) that can be used as spices, kaffir lime (Citrus x hystrix). This plant, which can grow to 12 meters in height, is often used for its fruit as a drink mixture and its leaves are used as cooking spices.

In the culinary world, the sour lime fruit is usually used as a neutralizer for the fishy smell of meat or fish. The leaves are also widely used as fragrances, for example mixed with pecel spices, gado-gado or peanut brittle.

22. Love

Kepayang or keluak (Pangium edule) is produced from a tree with Achariaceae tribes and has been used as a spice for cooking or food ingredients in the archipelago. For example, in Java, keluak is used as a cooking spice that gives rawon, brongkos and konro soup a black color, while in Sundanese land, keluak or picung is used as a delicious stir fry.

Although they make a delicious meal, when raw, the seeds are very poisonous because they contain high concentrations of cyanide acid, and when eaten in certain amounts they cause hangovers. The seeds are safe to process when they have been boiled and soaked first.

23. Cumin

Jintan (Trachyspermum roxburghianum) is a plant from the fennel family whose seeds can be used for spices and medicine. Although it has a slightly bitter taste, cumin has natural properties as a tonic, for example for the digestive system, treats inflammation and is able to increase the amount of breast milk and kill cancer cells.

Initially, Cumin seeds were only found in Indian cuisine, but since past trade they have spread to Southeast Asia and are integrated into Indonesian cuisine. This type of spice is usually used in soup foods, such as curries, soups and curries.

24. Sesame

Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is produced from flowering plants in the Pedaliaceae family. Although originating from North Africa, sesame is widely cultivated throughout the world, including Indonesia because of its many benefits.

One of the main benefits of sesame is as a source of vegetable oil. the extracted seeds. The seeds are shaped like apocytes, small, white, yellow, brown, pink or black. This type of spice is often used as a topping in food, for example onde-dumplings, bread and others.

25. Watercress

This plant is certainly well known to many people. It is even said that this plant has long been consumed by humans. If you like vegetables and have never eaten them, then you are highly recommended to give them a try. If you like it then it is great if you also cultivate it. How to grow watercress is not difficult as long as it is done seriously and consistently.

Learn also poisonous mushrooms

25 Spice Plants in Southeast Asia

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