Wild edible flower sambal recipes are uncommon.  But you can find some recipes in Indonesia. The most popular is sambal from Kecombrang (Etlingera elatior) and Honje (Etlingera hemisphaerica).  In this article, I will introduce the new recipe.  How to make spicy sambal without any chilli pepper. The recipe is using other wild edible flowers.  The name is Jotang (Spilanthes acmella var. paniculata).  

Actually, this species is a common weed in Indonesia.  One of the useful weeds with some medicinal properties.  The most popular is their benefit as a natural anaesthetic plant.  People use the leaves, roots, stems, and flowers as vegetables and also as mouth pain killers to treat sores.

The pungent experience

I have a nice impression of Jotang, especially in my first experience when I taste the Jotang flowers.  The pungent sensation is amazing.  Since that time, I always use the flowers as a welcome snack for people who join me during sharing sessions about food foraging.  Almost all of them will tell the same.  They were surprised by the pungency.

When I taste the Sichuan pepper or in Indonesia, we called it Andaliman (Zanthoxylum acanthopodium), I realize that the sensation is similar.  Andaliman is known as Batak Pepper. Peoples in North Sumatra use Andaliman also for sambal.  Finally, I try to find information about pungent similarities among these two species.

The pungent chemicals

Jotang (Spilanthes acmella var. paniculata) containing some main chemicals, such as unsaturated akylamide, spilanthol.  This chemical’s concentration is approximately 1% in the flowers.  Same chemicals also exist in the leaves, but with lower concentrations.  And the chemicals above are actually related to the sanshools. The main pungent chemicals contain in the Andaliman/Sichuan pepper.

Actually, there are other pungent chemicals in the Jotang flowers.  These chemicals are belonging to the group of nonvolatile sesquiterpenoids; polygodial and eudesmanolide.  The same chemicals also exist in other pungent species, Tasmanian pepper and Water Pepper.

Starting from these facts, I wonder to make sambal from Jotang flower in my trip.  And finally, some weeks ago, I went to the location, which I knew that I can collect the Jotang flower.  The location is in the west java rainforest.  The location also becomes one of my favourite places to do practising in food foraging both from plants and mushrooms.

How to make wild edible flower sambal

I will share my experience during my trial on making sambal traditionally.  Firstly, collect the flowers. The younger stage is better. It will crunchier. After flowers were collected, then clean them up by using water and then let them for a while. Secondly, prepare the other ingredient.  I used garlic, shallot, and tomato.  Thirdly, grind the garlic and shallot. After crushed, pour the flowers (the amount is depending on your preference), and grind again to make all of them mix.  Fourthly, slice the tomato and grind it also in the mix.  Finally, add salt to make the sambal tastier.

Wild Edible Flower Sambal


Remarks were made only for caution.  From some studies, the result is mention that people with some health condition should not eat Jotang.  Jotang is one of the aphrodisiac plants.  So that, people with prostate cancer who has androgen-sensitive should not try to eat Jotang.  Pregnant women are also at risk if consuming Jotang.  Jotang will increases the potential for teratogenic during their pregnancy.  You should also not eat Jotang if you have allergies to the Asteraceae family.

When you are consuming alcohol, avoid Jotang. The spilanthol content in Jotang can slow down the metabolism of alcohol, so you are likely to feel drunk longer. Jotang should also not be eaten when you are consuming diuretic drugs. This is due to the presence of some chemical content in Jotang which is a natural diuretic.


  • De Souza GC, Matias Pereira AC, Viana MD, et al. 2019.   Acmella oleracea (L) R. K. Jansen Reproductive Toxicity in Zebrafish: An In Vivo and In Silico Assessment. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019;2019:1237301.
  • Rohanizah Abdul Rahim. 2021. Potential Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Spilanthes acmella and Its Health Beneficial Effects: A Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(7):3532 April 2021
  • Sharma V, Boonen J, Chauhan NS, et al.  2011.   Spilanthes acmella ethanolic flower extract: LC-MS alkylamide profiling and its effects on sexual behavior in male rats. Phytomedicine. Oct 15 2011;18(13):1161-1169.
  • Suchita Dubey et. al., 2013. Phytochemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology of Spilanthes acmella: A Review. Advance in Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Science vol 2013

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses