Ready to challenge your taste buds? Here are ten Indonesian fruits you should try in your visit.
1. Jambu air
Jambu air, or watery rose apples, are small, bell-shaped fruits that grow in clusters. The fruits have a crunchy texture and pretty, red color when ripened. The outer parts are a bit waxy, but you can eat them just like that. Jambu air is crunchy but juicy when you bite into it. The fruit is sweet but not overwhelming, perfect if you don’t like sugary-sweet flavor. These fruits are seasonal and a bit rare, but you can find them at some traditional markets.
Lai, or jungle durian, is a perfect fruit for those who are curious about durian but cannot handle the strong smell. Lai is a relative of durian, and mostly grows in Borneo. This fruit also has a spiky rind, but the smell is not as strong as durian. Lai is a little less sweet than durian, and not as big. You can find the fruit when visiting fruit markets in East, Central, and South Borneo Provinces.
You’ve probably heard mangosteen being described as “the queen of tropical fruit” in Western countries. Known in Indonesia as manggis, this fruit is both fragrant and luscious, with a beautiful purple rind that protects the sweet-sour juicy flesh. Purple mangosteen grows in almost all parts of Western and Central Indonesia, while the rarer white mangosteen mostly grows in Bali and Nusa Tenggara.
Do you know that starfruit is more than just garnish? Known as belimbing in Indonesia, ripe starfruit has a sweet and slightly sour flavor that tastes refreshing during hot days. The outer part of the fruit is a little waxy, but the actual fruit is crunchy and juicy so you can eat it right away. Starfruit is also great as fruit salad or juice, although you should eat it in its original form to appreciate the beautiful shape.
Rambutan is probably one of the most famous local fruits in Indonesia, due to its taste and unique shape. The fruits may be a little intimidating for some because it has a hard rind that becomes red when ripened, covered with stiff hair-like protuberances. However, once you break the rind, you will see round, smooth, fragrant white flesh. Ripe rambutan is very sweet, but its big stone is a choking hazard, so be careful when eating it.
Salak or snake fruit can be intimidating for some people because it has snake-like skin. However, when ripened, this fruit offers sweet and a little acidic flavor, with a fragrant aroma and crunchy texture. The fruit is unique because it looks like garlic clove after you peel the skin. You can find salak in almost all areas in Indonesia, but they are usually available at traditional fruit market
Jackfruit, or nangka in Indonesian, is a large and heavy fruit with hard, green rind. Don't get fooled by the unremarkable appearance! When you open the fruit, you will see individual sweet pulps, with great fragrance and bright yellow color. The fruit has large, hard seeds, and they can be boiled and eaten like nuts. Jackfruit is considered cheap fruit, and you can find it easily in almost all areas in Indonesia.
Cempedak is a relative of jackfruit, and at first glance, they are hard to distinguish. However, cempedak pulp is slightly softer than jackfruit, and it does not have jackfruit’s slight tartness. Indonesians often eat cempedak by frying it in batter, turning the fruit into sweet fritters. The seeds can be boiled and eaten like nuts. You can find cempedak fritters at some street food stalls, especially if they sell “gorengan” (deep-fried snacks).
9. Jeruk Bali
Jeruk Bali (“Balinese orange”) is a popular name for pomelo fruit in Indonesia. This fruit looks like a grapefruit, but it is not as sour or bitter. Indonesian pomelo has sweeter and milder taste, perfect if you don’t enjoy grapefruit’s tartness. The pulp is usually pale, but the most favorite fruit is the one with red or pink pulp. Despite the name, jeruk Bali is cultivated in several areas in Indonesia.
Langsat are small fruits that look like tiny potatoes. The pulp is white and slightly clear, and when you bite it, the sweet and slightly sour taste will burst in your mouth. Langsat fruits are seasonal, and they are harvested only once a year so they will be special additions to your holiday menu if you can find them.
These Indonesian fruits are not only unique but also delicious and memorable. Don't forget to find and try them whenever you visit the country.