Melinjo is native to Indonesia and very popular in this country. It is widely used in Indonesian cuisine. The seeds are used for sayur asem (sour vegetables soup) and also, ground into flour and deep-fried as crackers (emping, a type of krupuk). The crackers have a slightly bitter taste and are frequently served as a snack or accompaniment to Indonesian dishes. The leaves are also commonly used for vegetables dishes in Indonesia.
This plant is commonly cultivated throughout the Aceh region and is regarded as a vegetable of high status. Its flower, young leaves and fruit are used as ingredients in traditional vegetable curry called kuah pliek. This dish is served on all important traditional occasions, such as khanduri and keureudja. In the Pidie district, the women pick the ripe fruit (its skin color is red) and make keureupuk muling from it.
Melinjo crackers were part of the dinner menu during Barack Obama's state visit to Indonesia in 2010, where he praised the crackers, alongside the Bakso (meatball soup) and the Nasi Goreng (fried rice), as being delicious.
Recently, Japanese scientists found that Gnetum gnemon is not the cause of gout (uric acid disease).