list of spices

Top List of Spices from Indonesia to Spice Up Your Pantry

Indonesia has an extensive list of spices other countries may don’t have. Here are the authentic spices you need to have around.

Indonesia has long been known as one of the countries with the most ethnically diverse societies. Also, it’s home to more than 30,000 different varieties of spices. These include more than half of the known flavorings in the world today. Here is the list of spices native to Indonesia you should consider having around to cook your favorite Indonesian meal.

list of spices - white pepper

White Pepper

Locally known as merica, this is a staple spice in Indonesian households. It’s made from the dried fruit of the Piper nigrum pepper plant, as is the black one. Also, it has a milder heat due to the compounds removed when the skin is peeled off.

list of spices - black pepper

Black Pepper

The black dried fruit of Piper nigrum in Indonesia may differ from the one you used to have. Popularly known as Lampung pepper, this spice has a burning aroma, flavor, and pungency. They are relatively small and have a fruity, biting flavor on the tongue. 

list of spices - galangal


Known by Indonesians as lengkuas, this ginger-like root spice is widely used as a natural flavoring in various Indonesian dishes. Like many other spices, this one also provides many health properties, including preventing infection, relieving inflammation, easing stomachaches, etc.

list of spices - cinnamon


It may only use in very small quantities of Indonesian meals, yet, it remains an indispensable ingredient in various international cuisine. Locally known as kayu manis, this one has a milder and sweeter flavor than other varieties. Also, it’s a staple in the list of spices in many American households.

list of spices - coriander


While all parts of this plant are edible, most Indonesians only use the dried seed parts, which are almost similar to pepper but a bit smaller and lighter. The powder form of this spice is popularly used in various traditional Indonesian meals for it gives off a floral aroma and subtle lemony flavor.

list of spices - lemongrass


Commonly known as serai in Indonesia, this spice can make any of your cooking more aromatic and has a hint of heat when it’s used in a proper quantity. To add lemongrass to your cooking, you only need to use one to two stems and smash the bottom part until it breaks open. 

list of spices - indonesian bay leaves

Indonesian Bay Leaves

Indonesian bay leaves, or daun salam, differ from regular bay leaves you may have used. It’s less aromatic with more citrusy and earthy flavors. When used in Indonesian curries, soups, or stews, it can give the dishes a hint of sweetness and savory.

list of spices - turmeric


This one should never be kept out of the list of spices you have to stock in your pantry. In Indonesia, this root spice provides a natural yellow color. Most use the freshly pounded one, but the powdered one is more versatile and has no overly strong flavor compared to the former. 

list of spices - cumin


Cumin, or jintan in Indonesian, is usually marketed in powdered or dried form. It has three different varieties: white, sweet, and black cumin. Each comes with a distinct aroma and flavor. In Indonesia, most use the white one to make curries that have warm and earth flavors.

list of spices - kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Also known as daun jeruk purut, this leaf spice lends a hint of fresh citrusy fragrance to various coconut-milk-based Indonesian cuisines, such as stews and curries. To get the most of the aroma, use the fresh ones, remove the stalks, shred the leaves, or chop them thinly.  

list of spices - garlic


Who doesn’t know this kitchen staple? It’s used in a wide variety of dishes across many countries, including Indonesia. Best of all, it comes in various forms. You can purchase it fresh in bulbs, in peeled form, chopped, minced, or even in powder form. 

list of spices - shallot


Shallots may not be classified in the list of spices originated in Indonesia, yet, it is a staple ingredient for the seasoning or condiment of the majority of traditional dishes in the archipelago. It has an onion-like flavor but is mellow and much sweeter than onion. 

list of spices - aromatic ginger

Aromatic Ginger

Kencur, or aromatic ginger, is dubbed as the mother of all Indonesian herbs. It has a strong and distinct aroma; thus, it’s sparingly used in cooking. Indonesians commonly use it to spice up some traditional urap (salads) or sambal pecel (peanut sauce).  

list of spices - red chili

Red Chili

Sambal is a must-have condiment in Indonesian households made of chilies, preferably the red ones. In addition, it’s commonly used in almost every dish in the country. It’s available in various forms: fresh, dried, powder, and coarse powder.

list of spices - nutmeg


Next is the famous Indonesian spice, which is locally known as pala. The fresh one has a dark red hard shell which should be pounded first into powder before use. It can add sweet and spicy flavor to any stew, such as the famous Indonesian beef, known as rendang.

list of spices - candlenut


Another entry in the list of spices from Indonesia is candlenut or kemiri. While it is similar to macadamia nuts, the flavor is quite distinct. Candlenut has toxic chemicals when consumed raw, but they will dissipate when cooked. It has a nice nutty taste and is commonly used as a thickening agent in many Indonesian dishes.

list of spices - white cardamom


Known as kapulaga by the locals, it’s a kind of fruit with a strong flavor and aroma commonly used to prepare many authentic Indonesian cuisines. There are only two primary varieties of kapulaga: black and green. Indonesians mostly used the white one, the bleached version of the green one. 

list of spices - kluwak nut

Kluwak Nuts

Kluwak nuts or simply known as kluwak is native to Indonesia and Malaysia. It has a unique aroma and taste, giving brown dishes a darker color. Kluwak is also one of the essential spices incorporated in many Indonesian dishes, including one of the world’s best soups, rawon or black beef soup.

list of spices - clove


Indonesia has been long dubbed as the clove empire, for it is home to the Moluccas Islands—the origin of one of the world’s oldest spices. Indonesians mostly use it to spice up some semur, gulai, and curries. In addition, the spice can also be used to garnish Indonesian pineapple tart.

The list of spices above is the indispensable ingredients of various authentic Indonesian dishes. Consider having them around in your kitchen just in case you want to try whipping up Indonesian meals on your own. Simply head to Spices and Co. to find out those magic spices.



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