Whenever you walk along the fruits and vegetables section in a supermarket, chances are you’re not seeing all of the delicious, sweet fruits that the mother nature has to offer. Some fruits are probably very unfamiliar to you, while for us they are simply part of daily lives. That explains why many westerners I know are plain fascinated when they see weird-looking Indonesian fruits for the first time.
But here, we are in the middle of the ocean with limited access to the outside world and unfortunately less fruits to choose from. Nevertheless, below are some of the fruits that you will commonly encounter in tropical Asian countries and when you’re lucky you may be able to discover some around Gili Island.
Funny how in native Indonesian tongue we call this fruit buah naga, which is a literal translation of dragon fruit. It probably has something to do with its skin and fiery red color. Sometimes we do serve it as fruit salad in the morning. I talked to a small juce stall owner and she told me that dragon fruit is always available throughout the year because we can always buy it from Lombok, Bali or Java. (photo: plzcdn.com)
Salak or snake fruit sometimes can be rare in Gili Island. As the name suggest, this fruit has skin which ressemble the skin of snakes. Salak is usually served just as it is, meaning you just need to peel off the skin, bite some of the flesh and throw the pit away. (photo: ec21.com)
Known as the banned fruits from airplane cabin and hotel rooms. Durian or king fruit has very strong smell which instantly divides people into two: yay or nay-ers. I myself despise durian and I never come near it. It may look scary from the outside but behind those sharp, rough spikes is the soft, creamy flesh of the fruit. According to the friendly juice seller I talked to before, durian is commonly sold in Gili around the end of the year, together with mangosten and rambutan. (photo: mnn.com)
Affectionately called queen of fruits, mangosten is more commonly used as traditional medicine than a dessert. It is native to South-East Asia and it ranks amongst one of the rarest fruit in the world. Ripe mangosten is easily opened by gentle squeeze to expose the soft, white edible inside. (photo: thewisegardenger.com)
If you have never seen one you will possibly have funny reaction looking at this fruit. Whan on earth is this thing? Rambutan in Indonesian means hairy like the appearance of the fruit suggests. It is one of the favorite fruit of many Indonesians. Take the hairy skins off and taste the sweet flesh inside. (photo: producemadesimple.ca)
Star fruit or carambola is another exotic fruits you can easily find growing naturally in Indonesia. This fruit has a unique shape and it looks like a star when cut, hence the name. This juicy fruit is generally eaten right away out of the tree, made into juice, or used as ingredient in cooking. Ripe, yellow-ish carambolas are usually the best with their sweet taste instead of sour green ones.
Jack fruit is another “wonder” fruit from Asia. According to researchers this fruit thrives in warming climate and is very nutritious. It is huge and it can easily weigh more than 10 lbs. In Indonesian you can see it prepared in many ways: cooked in curries, put in ice cream, eaten with sticky rice, etc.
(photo: the jackfruit.com)
Last but not the least is the soursop. Soursop grows in big, evergreen trees which easily reach 13 feet tall. Go to any restaurants in Indonesia and most likely you will see the soursop juice in the menu. But in the other hand, this fruit is surprisingly popular amongst scientists due its potential to help fight cancer.
So next time you visit Gili Island, keep an eye of those fruits and definitely taste some. It’s worth mentioning though that we serve fruit salad every morning, and typically we try to get the best fruits available at the time.