Exotic Fruits of Thailand

November 16, 2014

While many people conjure up an image of Thai cuisine and think of coconut milk, curries, or the bright red bird chilies that give Thai dishes their signature flavorful heat, fruit is every bit as integral to the native Thai diet. Street carts sell fruit in both their natural and spiced forms, and it's not uncommon to end a meal with a dessert featuring - or made entirely from - one of the nation's many indigenous fruits.


Arguably the queen of all fruit, the majestic mangosteen is both stunning and delicious. This small tennis-ball sized fruit is deep plum in color with a multi-petalled green cap that makes it easy to identify. Widely prized for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the mangosteen's white flesh is also traditionally used in folk medicine cures. Open this fruit and you'll enjoy flavors of peach, vanilla, and strawberry with a hint of sourness and a swirl of cream.

Rose Apple

Rose apple
Known to locals as Chom-Poo, the rose apple looks like a strawberry and red bell pepper had a baby. Pear-shaped and just as ruddily hued as the name would suggest, the rose apple is crisp, crunchy, and refreshing. Eat it as-is or slice and serve in a salad with dried shrimps for a classic Thai application often reserved for green papaya.


The jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, and can reach a whopping 80 pounds. Crack open the bumpy green shell and you'll see multiple sections, each containing a pocket of seeds nestled in a scoop of waxy, sticky flesh. You can eat it raw or battered and fried, but it's arguably tastiest in kaeng kanun, a Northern Thai curry that also includes garlic, lime leaves, sultanas, basil, red curry paste, and coconut.


Delicious Durian
The infamous durian fruit is widely known for its odor. Combine the aroma of old tennis shoes, rotten eggs, and a landfill under the late summer sun and you'll have some idea as to what this spiky green monstrosity is capable of. Yet the Thais love their durian, and if you can get your nose on board your taste buds might actually learn to love this dubious delicacy. Just one note: the humble durian's odor issues have gotten it banned from many public places, so you might have to enjoy your snack in private.


Sure, you've had bananas, but the sweet, somewhat bland, bright yellow boomerangs common in the Western world are a far cry from the bounty available in Thailand. In the local markets you'll find bananas in every shape, size, and ripeness, with a range of flavors to match. Try them sliced and fried, boiled, dried - an ideal snack for traveling - or even served with sticky rice or coconut pudding for a light and luscious dessert.

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By Sajda Latif