More to come:  Banana - Coconut - Mango - Pineapple - Watermelon - Pomelo,  
                         Starfruit,  
Guava, Duku, Ciku,


TROPICAL TEMPTATION

By Kamila Delart

Aromatic, juicy, flavorsome… For thousands of years a source of desire, tropical fruits inspired poets, unleashed love affairs, fueled discovery voyages and triggered battles and wars. A tale of craving and delight you will understand the moment you peel the bristly skin of a rambutan, unveiling the exquisite flesh inside. The second you taste a freshly harvested mangosteen or let a piece of ripe durian melt on your tongue…

The humid tropical climate and fertile land of our island nurtures an incredible variety of fruit species - whether cultivated in orchards or harvested in their natural habitat, the rainforest. An amazing opportunity to experience a myriad of tantalizing flavors! Just visit one of the many local wet markets and indulge in the mouth-watering tree-ripened fruits. Overwhelmed by the countless choices? A little wary of trying the unfamiliar? Let us introduce some of the local favorites…

Named after its appearance (rambut means in Malay hair), the RAMBUTAN is coated with a soft hairy skin. Easy to peel off, the rind protects a tender, semi-translucent flesh with a grape-like texture and sour-sweet, aromatic taste.

The fruits keep only a day or two at room temperature. For longer storage, wrap in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate. To enjoy, bury your nails into the skin, tear the rind and press out the pulpy flesh.

A great source of protein and natural sugar, the fruit contains also vitamin C and calcium, and supplies phosphorus that helps the body filter out waste in the kidneys and assists in the repair of tissues and cells. Rich in fiber, rambutan prevents constipation. Proven to kill parasites in the intestines, the fruit is known to relieve the symptoms of diarrhea. High contents of iron boosts the oxygen levels in the body making you feel energetic.


With a smooth amber to orange colored skin, PAPAYA has a subtle taste slightly similar to that of a cantaloupe.

Best eaten when fully ripened, select fruits with orange color and soft flesh that releases sweet aroma and yields easily to finger pressure. To enjoy, cut with a paring knife in half and scrape out with a large spoon the seeds in the center. For best taste, serve cold and enhance the natural flavor with honey or the freshly squeezed juice of a lemon. Scoop with a spoon.

Rich in pro-vitamin A and vitamins B and C, papaya contains also the powerful enzyme papain that promotes healthy digestion, assisting the colon with the elimination of toxins and mucus. Loaded with anti-oxidants that fight free radicals, papaya aids in slowing down the aging process.


With a name paying tribute to the fruit’s exterior (duri means in Malay thorn), DURIAN is covered with a green prickly husk. Regarded the ‘king of fruits’, durian can reach up to 30 cm in length and 15 cm in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kg. Durian is ready to be eaten when its rind begins to crack. However, the preferences regarding the ideal stage of ripeness vary. Some favor their durians relatively young when the clusters of fruit within the shell are still crisp in texture and mild in flavor, others like to wait until the fruit is soft and its aroma as pungent as possible. In this state, the flesh becomes richly creamy and slightly alcoholic.

Durian emits a strong aroma perceived by some as pleasantly fragrant and by others as overpowering, resembling the odor of a smelly cheese. Also the taste tends to polarize: either you despise the fruit or it will become your absolute favorite! Full-bodied, creamy and sweet, durian has a texture similar to rich custard and tastes a little bit like almonds. Best you sample the popular local dish Pulut Durian with the fruit accompanied by glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk, and decide for yourself.

High in fructose and sucrose, the durian instantly replenishes energy. Rich in fiber, the fruit is a great bulk laxative known to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Containing high levels of essential amino acid tryptophan, when eaten in the evening, durian will help you fall asleep.

Born by a cactus plant, the DRAGON FRUIT is coated with a dark red skin with scales. Depending on the species, the flesh inside is white, red or magenta, containing small black edible seeds. Easy to peel, you can remove the skin and slice the fruit into bite-sized cubes. Even better - cut the fruit into halves and scoop the flesh with a spoon, utilizing the dazzling shell as a bowl with a tropical flair! The pulp is crunchy and sweet with a mild fruity flavor complemented by a nutty taste of the seeds.

Rich in vitamin C, the dragon fruit boosts the immune system and promotes faster healing of bruises and wounds. Containing vitamin B, B1 & B2, the fruit stimulates carbohydrate metabolism, lowers cholesterol levels and is known to make the skin beautiful. Packed with calcium, the dragon fruit keeps your bones and teeth strong and healthy when eaten regularly. The red fleshed species contain lycopene, a natural antioxidant known to counteract aging.


The largest tree-borne fruit on the planet, JACKFRUIT can reach up to eighty pounds although fruits you will commonly find at the local markets are not likely to exceed 20 pounds. When ripe, the green fruit turns light brown and emits an intense sweet aroma noticeable from far away.

The rind with conically shaped spikes is cumbersome to peel, the interior filaments are firmly latched onto the core and covered by a sticky glue-like substance that makes it rather tricky to extract the edible parts. So best you purchase the neatly packed, ready-to-eat orange bulbs available at any local fruit store.

The texture of a young jackfruit is crisp while a fully ripened fruit is tender and juicy. The unique flavor falls somewhere between a pineapple and a banana, with hints of mango. The seeds you will find inside every bulb can be roasted and resemble in flavor a chestnuts.

Due to high levels of fructose and sucrose, jackfruit provides an instant energy boost. Rich in fiber, it prevents constipation, improves digestion and minimizes the risk of developing colon cancer. Containing copper and iron, the fruit optimizes thyroid metabolism and prevents anemia. Jackfruit fans swear that the fruit releases tension and anxiety.



Still rare and rather pricey in the West, MANGOSTEEN is one of the most popular fruits in Asia, often called ‘The Queen of Fruits’.

When purchasing, look for a firm, deeply colored fruit with stems and leaves that are green and fresh. Choose those with as many stigma lobes at the apex as possible as their number corresponds with the quantity of fleshy segments you will find inside.

When freshly harvested, the purple skin is fairly soft and can be easily removed. Simply squeeze the fruit between the palms of your hands until the rind splits. Within a couple of days, the rind will harden. At that point, you will need a sharp knife. Hold the fruit with the stem-end downward and cut around the middle. Lift off the top half, exposing fleshy segments that resemble cloves of garlic. Use a fork to lift them gently out. Make sure the purple juice of the skin does not stain your clothes.

The opaque white juicy flesh has a texture that has been likened to a ripe plum. The flavor is aromatic, sweet with a hint of tartness and a note of caramel.

A major source of antioxidants, mangosteen effectively fights free radicals, slowing down aging and warding off degenerative diseases and mental deterioration. The fruit stimulates blood flow by dilating blood vessels, preventing coronary heart disease and stroke. Famous for its antibacterial properties, mangosteen is beneficial for those suffering from acne and skin blemishes.

Covered in leathery skin that ranges from yellow through red to brown color, POMEGRANATE has a rounded hexagonal shape with the insides divided into several chambers that contain dozens of small ruby-colored juicy seeds with a sweet citrusy flavor and a tangy note. For best experience, pick a pomegranate that has thin, tough, and unbroken skin. The heavier - the juicier it will be.

To enjoy, cut off the crown with a sharp knife and score the pomegranate with cuts as if you were going to break it into quarters. Soak in water to loosen the seeds and gently pull apart into quarters. Run your fingers through each quarter slice to separate the seeds and scoop from the water surface. Prevent juice from dripping on your clothes as pomegranate is a strong staining agent.

A great source of fiber, folic acid and vitamins A and C, pomegranate acts as a natural blood thinner, lowers blood pressure and prevents fat and cholesterol build-ups on the walls of arteries - significantly reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Powerful antioxidant, the fruit is famous for its anti-aging properties.

 

C-Right 2014: by Kamila Delart and Langkawi Gazette