Eating Indonesian

Fruit stall in Bali
Fruit stall in Bali

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks since we got home from Yogya. Well, by quiet, I mean hectic in a normal way rather than a noteworthy way. Work is busy, school is back in, plus it seems the whole neighbourhood is sick, or flooded (if you live in Jakarta!). LittleB had a flu bug earlier this week that kept him in bed for a few days. We were hours away from taking him to the hospital, fearing Typhoid or Dengue, when he miraculously got better.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the weird foods I like now that we live in Indonesia. In particular, all the unusual fruits we buy now instead of boring old apples and oranges (well, we still buy those too). So, in no special order, here are some of my favourites (I stole the photos off the internet since I don’t have any handy):


Rambutans are a yummy, hairy fruit that is in season right now. Mounds of them are piled up on the sides of the road around the city, and some are even growing on trees in the neighbourhood. You buy them in the bunch, trying for the reddish coloured ones. To eat them, peel open the soft shell to expose the soft white fruit. It’s a bit like eating hard jello, with a seed in the middle. Not too sweet, they’re just right. Yum!

Rambutans - hairy but delicious!
Rambutans – hairy but delicious!

Dragon fruit

LittleB loves dragonfruit juice. And this is a cool fruit because it comes in two colours – white like in the picture and red fleshed (watch out, it stains!). The texture is a bit like watermelon with less juice, and the seeds remind me of kiwi seeds – a little burst of sour in the middle of the sweet!

Dragon fruit - like watermelon with measles!
Dragon fruit – like watermelon with measles!

Passion fruit

Passion fruit is not that weird, I mean, I’d heard of it before we came here. But for some reason I had only had passion-fruit-flavoured things, never realizing exactly what the fruit looked like. Basically, you crack that sucker open and suck the gooey seeds out. They’re a bit crunchy, surrounded by a squooshy ooze. Fish eggs? Brains? They look gross but taste like yum!

Passion fruit - closest thing to brains you'll eat other than brains!
Passion fruit – closest thing to brains you’ll eat other than brains!


Papaya is another one that seems most normal. Certainly it’s not unusual in North America, but again I never realized what it looked like. It’s a big fruit, and inside is a bunch of crazy black seeds like caviar. But don’t eat those! Scrape those out of there and cut it up. It’s going to take you at least 2 days to eat the whole thing. But it’s creamy and soft and tastes exactly like what you think the “tropics” should.

Papaya - bigger than you think it is!
Papaya – bigger than you think it is!


Salak is a famous local fruit, also called “snakefruit” because of its rough, scaly skin. You peel off the skin and inside are a few white segments of what I can only describe as “dry” white flesh with a pit in the middle of each. It’s a bit weird of a weird flavour and I personally think they smell like sweaty socks. B loves them, though.

Salak fruit - smells like sweaty socks!
Salak fruit – smells like sweaty socks!


Mangosteens are delicious, but they are in no way similar in flavour or shape or colour to mangoes. If you crack open the purple shell, you’ll find a pocket of white segments that are soft and sweet, with sort of a peach texture. They taste like delicious.

Mangosteens - nothing like mangoes!
Mangosteens – nothing like mangoes!

Star fruit

Star fruit or “blimbing” is popular, apparently native to Indonesia. They’re hard and a bit sour, and I’m still undecided about them. They’re tasty in drinks and I think they are good for salsas, but we haven’t tried that before. Frankly, they just look neat!

Star fruit - now with more star!
Star fruit – now with more star!


Guavas or “jambu” are not an unusual fruit, but again I think I only really knew it by “flavour” in tropical mixed juices. There are a number of varieties, but I’ve mostly seen this pink fleshed kind. There’s a rumour that they will literally cure malaria… I’m not so sure about that. They are delicious, though.

Guava - now with more delicious pink!
Guava – now with more delicious pink!

Tiny bananas

Tiny bananas or “pisang” are pretty much just bananas, but tiny and awesome.

Tiny bananas - so tiny!
Tiny bananas – so tiny!


Durian is another local specialty. It is big and stinky and people either love it or hate it. I’ve actually never tried it, but the stink is quite fierce and I’m not sure I can bring myself to eat it. There are signs here telling people that they can’t bring durian into buildings and other places the way 7-11s have signs saying “no shirt, no shoes, no service”. It’s that stinky.

Durian... it's gross
Durian… it’s gross

Is anyone else hungry now??

3 thoughts on “Eating Indonesian

  1. Aren’t rambutans fun?! I’ve tried durian ice-cream–twice, in an attempt to be open minded about it. Can’t say that I recommend it (although it IS better than garlic ice-cream).
    Enjoy the culinary experiences!


  2. Starfruit is amazing in chocolate fondue. Can’t say as I’m a huge fan of it unless it is dipped in chocolate, but it is a great way to make the plate look fancy. 🙂


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