The choices of Malaysian fruits is incredibly varied, with those native to the country and imported varieties serving as popular between-meal snacks. You will find many in supermarkets, but for the cheapest prices and best quality, it is always best to go directly to the source, and local farmers know this. As a result, expect to frequently see make-shift wooden stalls along trunk roads and highways, particularly close to kampong (village) areas of the country.
The tropical fruits in this list are available all year round in most supermarkets, but some are seasonal. For example, durian is most easily found during peak dry weather seasons, December to January, and June to September, when there are greater varieties of the fruit available. Read on to find out more about the best fruits in Malaysia.
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Durian is called the ‘king of fruits’ by locals and, at first glance,it is not hard to see why this hard-shelled, thorny green fruit earned the name. It does not help that it emits a strong rotting smell– we kid you not! In fact, many tourists are turned off by the prospect of the fruit itself simply because of its prickly outer shell and overwhelmingscent. However once past the thick, inflexible crust, you will find fat golden-brown seeds covered with juicy, creamy flesh that tastes at once rich and sweet.
Just as durian is king of the fruits in Kuala Lumpur, mangosteen is known as its consort and queen. The fruit is divided into three sections: its smooth, tough, thickouter skin is a deep royal purple and is easy to peel once penetrated.Just beneath this surface is the white fruit that is sweet, moist and sometimes a little sour.Past the flesh are the very bitter seeds.It boasts a wealth of health benefits such ashigh antioxidant content, immune-boosting vitamin C, and even anti-inflammatory properties.
The hairy rambutan fruit looks a little strange at first glance. A bright red,medium-sized round fruit with a dense growth of thick black, pale red or green fibres all over, its easy-to-peel outer skin covers an incredibly sweet and juicy white fruit. It takes some skill to peel the skin away from the fruit and seed, (tip – use your fingernails) but once you do, you are rewarded with honey-flavoured flesh that never overwhelms your taste buds.
The golden yellow langsat fruit, which originates in Peninsular Malaysia, is small in size (between two to five centimetres in diameter)and round, with an almost paper-thin shell. Beneath its outer skin is fibrous, translucent flesh that is sweet and sectioned into five distinct parts.Its seeds are very bitter. so be sure not to accidently suck on them. The fruit’s texture is a little sticky and sometimes leaves a viscous gel-like layer on the tongue, but the luscious fruit is certainly hard to forget.
The same genus as the jackfruit, the outer shell of the seasonal cempedak resembles green durian fruit, minus the thick thorns. Once its outer skin is split in half to reveal its inner contents, you will find golden orange fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked. Locals love to dip the striped off fruit flesh in a flour mixture and deep fry it in oil, resulting in a popular crispy tea time treat, while its seeds can be roasted and eaten as snacks.
Guava (Jambu Batu)
The light green guava fruit is popular in Malaysia for its hard texture and juicy, briny taste. Locals love the sweet and sour addition of asamboi. Also called ‘jambubatu’, it can be eaten with its outer skin, which has a slightly bitter flavour, or peeled, which gives a fruit that oozes sweet, juicy water.
Rose Apple (Jambu Merah)
Often confused with its sister fruit, the guava, the rose apple is a thirst-quenching fruit commonly sweetened by locals with asamboi. Shaped like a pear, its coarse and crispy texture and briny flavour has resulted in a lot of Malaysian hawkers using it as an addition to the popular local rojakbuah (fruit salad) dish.
Though this fruit is native to the tropics of the Americas, this import has flourished in Malaysia, with the climate and soil conditions perfect for its growth. Its fruit is a deep orange with a smooth texture and moist, honey-flavoured flesh.
So-named because, once cut horizontally, each slice is the shape of a star, this is another fruit native to Malaysia, with two distinct varieties: the first is a light green type that is salty in taste, while the second is a mellow yellow with a sweet undertone. Crisp in texture, the fruit is said to help lower your blood pressure.
Native to South Africa, watermelon is a popular fruit in Malaysia, largely because its red flesh has such excellent thirst-quenching properties. A large round fruit with a hard green outer layer, in Malaysia, the juicy red flesh is popularly blended with sugar water and served over ice at coffee shops.
Shaped almost exactly the same as cempedak, jackfruit is slightly larger than its counterpart and available all year round. In Malay, it is called ”nangka” and, just like the cempedak, it can be eaten raw or dipped in flour and deep fried as a snack, although its golden yellow tough flesh is not as sweet as cempedak.
Widely grown all over the world, strawberries are readily available in Malaysian supermarkets, where you will find two different varieties. The more expensive is imported from overseas, with far superior quality, much sweeter taste and softer texture.Strawberries grown in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands boast a harder outer layer and slightly sour undertone. Both smell deliciously sweet.
Native to Southeast Asia, mango is a juicy fruit with very sweet flesh, ranging in colour from light yellow to golden orange; the darker its hue, the sweeter the fruit. Malaysian supermarkets carry several types of this fruit, with the more expensive imports from India and China bearing the best-tasting flesh.
Eaten raw, diced with asamboi, tossed with salads, blended as juice, or served as a garnish to meals, pineapples are very popular. Its health benefits have helped it reach immense popularity in Malaysia, with locals swearing by its high vitamin C, iron and vitamin A. Beneath its oblong-shaped, olive green outer shell, the fruit flesh is hard, sweet-tasting but with a slight tangy undertone – the fruit has to be cut just right, as the acidic content of the small dark pigments on the flesh can cause tongue irritation.
This small brown fruit with tiny furry fibres on its easy-to-peel outer skin is another import to Malaysia. You will find them in select supermarkets but most daily morning or night markets should have fruit vendors selling it. A fig-like fruit, its inner flesh is moist and sweet.