Explore the Archipelago of Spices

Discover the iconic spices from Indonesia

By Google Arts & Culture

More than half of spice in the world originated in Indonesia

Indonesia is the second largest mega bio diversity in the world. There are over 30,000 species of spices can be found in the archipelago. The breadth and nuance of taste coming from Indonesian spices and its amazing spice blends truly spices up the world.

Indonesian FoodIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Indonesian dishes are spice-based.

There are four categories of spice, dry spices (i.e. pepper, cumin), fresh spices (i.e. galangal), aromatic spice (i.e. pandanus leaf or turmeric leaf) and acids (i.e)  tamarind or asam gelugur. The following are specific spices that have become local wisdom in different regions.

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)

The finest quality of cloves are found in Indonesia. Originally grown in Ternate and Tidore, cloves are also grown in East Java. Cloves used as hint of spicy-sweet taste for meat and fish and sometimes used in food preservation. Read more about Cloves here 

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Kecombrang (Torch Ginger, Etlingera elatior) from Aceh

Combrang have a rich and strong fragrance to balance spicy dishes or to accentuate a dish. This beautiful flower bud in shades of pink, white and light green is used in variety of dishes and condiments. 

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Andaliman pepper (Zanthoxylum acanthopodium)

In Indonesia, andaliman is often referred to as "Indonesian lemon pepper" and is widely cultivated in Northern Sumatra. Batak people use andaliman in dishes such as saksang, which consist bits of pork meat and viscera stewed in a thick spicy sauce. Read more about Andaliman here

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Nutmeg or Pala (Myristica fragrans) from Eastern Indonesia

Myristica fragrans (fragrant nutmeg) or locally known as pala is a dark-leaved evergreen tree cultivated for spices derived from its fruit: nutmeg, from its dried seed, and mace, from the dried seed covering. Read more about Nutmeg here

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Galangal or Laos ( Alpinia galanga)

Many would mistake this with ginger. Galangal is used to elevate and intensifies flavors in heavily spiced dishes. 

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Cinnamon or Kayu Manis (Cinnamomum cassia)

In many Indonesian dishes and drinks, cinnamon is used to accentuate the flavor with its peppery-sweet taste. Cinnamon trees are part of panoramic view of Sumatra highlands and parts of Java. Cinnamon was first cultivated in the West Sumatra in regions around Padang. 

Keluwek (2021) by Indonesia Gastronomy NetworkIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Kluwek or Keluwek (Pangium edule)

The black nut of kluwek are fruits of tree native to the mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia. It produces a large poisonous fruit which can be made edible through simple fermentation. Fermented kluwek are brown and greasy commonly used in Rawon, a popular East Javanese beef stew.

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Asam Gelugur (Garcinia atroviridis)

Native to North Sumatra, asam gelugur is a staple to local people. The taste is sour and tart. The fruit is sliced and dried before consumed.

Spice Map 2Indonesia Gastronomy Network

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