Mangoes are an essential part of any Asians diet. Purely for the delicate deliciousness of the sweet sensual juices that blast me into ecstasy every time!!
They are a mutli-talent of a fruit. Starting with the ripe fruit which can be peeled and ate with your bare hands whilst the juices run down your elbows and not giving a shit because it’s just so delicious!! The unripe fruit is eaten all over Asia with a salt and chilli mixture. Unripe they are an ideal ingredient for many sour dishes. Sour mango fish curry in bangladesh is a delicacy. The ripe fruits can be squeezed out and the juice dried out over days and days under the baking Bangladeshi sun to make mango leather (‘soti’ in Bengali). Another of those sweet sour treats we’d eagerly await as kids when someone we knew was coming back from Bangladesh. Then there are the chutnis (‘satni’ in Bengali) and of course one of my favourite mango asar (‘amor asar’ in Bengali). I’m not sure of the name for this in English. Sour unripe baby mangoes before they develop a hard seed are cut up and dried and prepared with oil, spices and vinegar. They are then put in jars and left in the sun again. An arduous processing taking over a week. But the end result is well worth it!! And last but not least is ‘ami’. These are small strips of unripe mangoes whilst they are still small, extremely sour and very aromatic, dried in the sun over days and days. They are then stored and last for over a year to be used as the sour ingredient for many sour fish curry dishes from Bangladesh. You can even make a sour fish curry dish from the flowers of the mango tree when it first blooms!! I ate this for the first time last year whilst I was there. YUMMY!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Luckily in London you can get Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes. Their sweetness is worlds apart from the huge tasteless mangoes imported from Brazil you get in the supermarkets in London and Berlin. Absolutely no offense meant. I’ve never been to South America and I’m sure they keep the delicious ones for themselves!! Berlin is such a sad case as these are the only mangoes you can get unless you know which time of year to go to the Indian or Asian food stores. European summertime is when the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes ripen and are available in (obviously) the Bengali, Indian or Pakistani groceries dotted all over east London.
Now back to Cambodia. Here you seem to get mangoes all year round (bliss 🙂 )!! Ripe and delicious and sweet. Here are some pics of the varieties I’ve tried so far.
Svai Lahuat in Khmer. Sweet and bright orange inside. They seem to available all year round here in Cambodia!
BELOW: Svai porm on the left, svai lahuat in the middle and svai Thai on the right. The sweetest is the svai Thai. Svai porm is by far the most aromatic but also fibrous. Svai lahuat varies from very sweet to sometimes not so sweet. The svai porm I’ve never seen in the market. I nicked this one from someones tree. 🙂
Here’s a strange looking fruit that comes from a tree widespread in Malaysia, Cambodia and Bangladesh (and of course all over southern and southeast Asia). The fruit of the Palmyra Palm. The fruit is called ‘t’naot (ត្នោត)‘ in Khmer and ‘thall ( তাল )’ in Bengali. You can eat it as baby (paedo-cannibalism?) or shall I say immature form. It’s soft and jelly like and delicious. Has no real characteristic flavour but the texture is amazing. It reminds me of…… well the female genitals if I were to be specific 🙂 whilst slurping away on the soft flesh. Once mature it becomes far too hard to eat. It’s too hard to even bite through.
In Bangladesh the Palmyra Palm Tree is known to be a place where ghosts and evil spirits like to linger. I’ve heard so many stories there of people being possessed esp. young women and children, by the spirits that lurk around this tree. The tree combined with a large man made pond at sunset is when it’s supposed to be most dangerous. Especially if you are wearing bright red-the ghosts and spirits love red.
In Cambodia I’ve ate a delicious dish (sa’law machoo tnaot) made from the whole fruit sliced up in it’s baby form. I didn’t know you could eat the whole fruit. They don’t in Bangladesh as far as I know.
The sap that comes from the tree trunk is used to make palm sugar that is available all over the world.
The jelly part is actually the seed. Very similar to a coconut in fact. Comes from the same family.
The most interesting way I’ve ever ate this fruit is when I was a teenager and visited bangladesh. My cousins dug up this fruit from under the earth where they had buried it months before in it’s mature form. After cutting it open it was amazing. There was a delicious soft spongy growth inside the hollow part of the seed that we ate. I’ll never forget that. Weird food or what?
I’ve also drunk palm wine (t’naot choo) many a times here in Cambodia. It comes in a bucket with a plastic bag full of ice to keep it cool. And looks like dirty dish water I thought when I first saw it. The taste varies from sweet with mildly sour to very sour almost like vinegar. And it gets you very drunk my visiting Canadian friend found out thinking that it’s a weak drink because you can’t taste the alcohol. He threw up after drinking too much at one of the local places where they serve this beverage. Most tourists who come here for a few days wont have experienced this because they are local drinking places hidden away from the central part of Siem Reap.
The seed part of the Palmyra Palm Tree Fruit which is the edible part in it’s immature form
Here’s another strange fruit that I came across here for the first time in my life. The milk fruit in English, ‘plei teuk doh ko’ in Khmer. The fruit flesh around the seeds is jelly like. It’s got a sweet taste to it. Although the first time I tried it, it wasn’t even sweet. It was just strange with no particularly exciting flavour (to my disappointment). The second time the fruit was slightly sweet as my partner explained – sometimes they are sweet and sometimes not!! They are the size of an apple and have hard black seeds. When you cut them a whitish liquid oozes out that looks like milk-hence the name in Khmer which means milk fruit -actually it’s ‘fruit of water from the tits of a cow’ to be exact with the translation! Tits of a cow would of course be udder in English :-). It’s the same word for cow’s and women’s breasts in Khmer (but not for cows and women……I’d like to add….heheh…..!! 🙂
Here’s an amazing looking fruit that I picked up on the Thai side of the Poipet border coming back from Bangkok. They are the size of cherries and taste nothing like them. In fact cherries taste mush better (if they’re not pumped full of chemicals) in my opinion. But these look just astounding!!
They are called Sa’ree in Khmer. Haven’t a clue in English. They are juicy with a bit of crunch, have a hint of sweet and a hint of sour. I ate them with the traditional salt and chilli mix you get with all sour fruits here. In fact I was rather disappointed with the taste. I expected something much more spectacular because of it’s beauty!!
So, my blogging posts have become sparse whilst my life hasn’t really become busier, but my mind is somewhat pre-occupied with the events of my life. And there is one shocking event from the past week that has left me almost speechless and very angry. I will write a post about this in the near future once I have digested this real life happening! – Click here to read more as I’ve posted about this event now!!
Now back to the my beloved fruits of Asia!! I’m not a fan of custard because we were forced to eat it in primary school (in London of course-for those of you who haven’t read the ‘about me’ section of my blog, I didn’t grow up in Bangladesh!) And I eat the occasional apple but also a pretty boring fruit in my world. So how about the custard apple (thee’up in Khmer). Nothing like custard or apples (haha!) It looks very similar to a cherimoya (and tastes the same to my taste buds) that I’ve ate many times back in Europe. I’ve just done some online research and they are from the same family. Some say they are the same fruit with a different name but the cherimoya has different skin to the custard apple from my experience. A cherimoya has skin that surrounds the flesh in one piece. When you cut it the skin stays in one piece. This description may be a bit strange but I don’t know how else to word it. The custard apple has skin that is thick and comes off in segments. You can see the segments in the pictures below. The taste is extremely sweet and the texture creamy and slightly grainy. I love this fruit. Easy to eat-meaning easy to peel with your bare hands and actually quite filling as a fruit. The fruit flesh comes in segments too surrounding a hard black seed. They are the size of a medium sized apple.
You can see below the the skin and fruit flesh segments coming apart with ease!!
So I’m continuing my fruit posts with another strange and wonderful fruit – the star gooseberry. Leboir in Bengali and Ka’tuat in Khmer.
The only reason I know the English name is because I saw it in the local super expensive supermarket where you can get every western food you can dream of at ridiculously inflated prices. And additionally all the Khmer fruit, veg and fish have the English names stuck on a label. Of course some Khmer foods don’t seem to have English names-so they’ve just stuck on the Khmer name written in English.
There’s a tree of this fruit in the garden of my friend S. It’s not his garden but a communal one for everyone living there. But me and my GF just can’t resist picking a handful of these fruits everytime (almost everyday shall I say :-)) we visit him. We then slop away at the tiny treats of extreme sourness with….wait for it- something called ‘ambeul rotee’. I think it’s chicken stock powder or something similar. Very salty with lots of flavour! But you can enjoy it with salt or a salt & chilli mix or even add sugar for a slight sweetness that goes well with the sour!!
I’ve never seen these fruits in Europe. But I have seen them in a package in dried form here in the supermarket. So maybe it’s available like this in some supermarket near you??
The beloved star gooseberry tree – there’s not so many left now. A month ago the branches were literally yellow overflowing with star gooseberries 🙂
Star gooseberry with ‘ambeul rotee’, a salt and I dunnno what mixture! Oh and the lime dropped by for a quick hello 😉
This is a favourite fruit of many Bengali kids around the world!! You can get it dried all times of the year or fresh at that particular time of year when they ripen on the trees in Bangladesh. My happiest childhood memories come from when I was 10 and spent 6 months in Bangladesh with my parents and sisters visiting my HUGE extended family. I was too young to appreciate the family but remember throwing stones at the ‘boroi gas’ jujube trees with my cousins and then jumping on the fallen jujubes with screams of glee and joy!!
Above the normal jujube ‘boroi’ varying in size a little larger than a pea to a cherry.
Categories: About me, Bangladesh, Fruit, Home & Travel, Uncategorized
Tags: bangladesh fruits, cambodia fruits, childhood memories, dried fruits, jujube, sour fruits, strange fruits
Here’s one of my favourite fruits at the moment. It’s called a Sapodilla, ‘Lamut’ in Khmer. It’s not really strange to me as I’ve had this fruit many times in Berlin from the many Turkish fruit and veg stalls/ grocery shops. By far the best places to buy fresh fruit and veg there. Always fresh and there’s tonnes of it including many strange fruits you don’t normally get! I’ve ate it in London as well as in Bangladesh.
The size of a large egg and even shaped a bit like one. 3-4 large black seeds. Ripe you can smell the sweet aroma without cutting it. It goes almost soft when you press the skin. The fruit flesh looks a bit like a galia melon although the taste is far sweeter. The texture reminds me of a hairless kiwi.
I will add one bit of precaution to this fruit though! If you can’t smell it without cutting it and the skin is hard and doesn’t give to the pressure of your finger-don’t eat it!! I ate an unripe sapodilla about a month back. It wasn’t very sweet and whilst unripe has something in it that made my throat go all dry-I didn’t stop eating …..and then the fucking bits of fruit got stuck in my throat. I coughed and spluttered and eventually put fingers down my throat to throw up to free my throat. I was in a lot of pain. It felt like something going down my throat that was far too big for it (less than half a sapodilla)?? My girlfriend was sleeping already so didn’t hear any of this. I was very relieved when I puked bits out into the sink and the rest of the unripe ungrateful fruit finally made it’s way to my stomach where I guess my stomach acids are far stronger than whatever is in the unripe version! Phew, I though briefly I was gonna die this night!! 🙂
Anyway ripe totally delicious. Hope I didn’t put anyone off… 🙂
Sapodilla, Lamut (in Khmer)