Durian fruit regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the "king of fruits", the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres long and 15 centimetres in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms. Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.
The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting.
Durian fruit is used to flavour a wide variety of sweet edibles such as traditional Malay candy, ice kacang, dodol, lempuk, rose biscuits, and, with a touch of modern innovation, ice cream, milkshakes, mooncakes, Yule logs, and cappuccino. Es durian is a popular dessert in Indonesia, sold at street side stall in Indonesian cities, especially in Java.
Tempoyak refers to fermented durian, usually made from lower quality durian that is unsuitable for direct consumption. Tempoyak can be eaten either cooked or uncooked, is normally eaten with rice, and can also be used for making curry. Sambal Tempoyak is a Sumatran dish made from the fermented durian fruit, coconut milk, and a collection of spicy ingredients known as sambal.
In Thailand, durian is often eaten fresh with sweet sticky rice, and blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets, though much of the paste is adulterated with pumpkin. Unripe durians may be cooked as a vegetable, except in the Philippines, where all uses are sweet rather than savoury. Malaysians make both sugared and salted preserves from durian. When durian is minced with salt, onions and vinegar, it is called boder.
The durian seeds, which are the size of chestnuts, can be eaten whether they are boiled, roasted or fried in coconut oil, with a texture that is similar to taro or yam, but stickier. In Java, the seeds are sliced thin and cooked with sugar as a confection. Uncooked durian seeds are toxic due to cyclopropene fatty acids and should not be ingested.
Young leaves and shoots of the durian are occasionally cooked as greens. Sometimes the ash of the burned rind is added to special cakes. The petals of durian flowers are eaten in the North Sumatra province of Indonesia, while in the Moluccas islands the husk of the durian fruit is used as fuel to smoke fish.
Health benefits of Durian fruit
1. The durian fruit is a good source of antioxidant vitamin-C (about 33% of RDA). Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
2. Fresh durian fruit is a very rich source of potassium. Potassium is an important electrolyte of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Durian, like other tropical fruits such as Banana, avocado, and jackfruit, is rich in energy, minerals and vitamins. 100 g fresh fruit provides 147 calories.
4. The fruit is made of soft, easily digestible flesh made of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. Though it contains a relatively high amount of fats among fruits, it is free from saturated fats and cholesterol.
5. Durian is rich in dietary fiber, which makes it a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
6. The fruit is an excellent source of health benefiting B-complex groups of vitamins; a rare feature among fruits, such as niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential for the body as it requires them from external sources to replenish.
7. Further, it also contains a good amount of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and magnesium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
8. Additionally, it also contains high levels of essential amino acid, tryptophan (also known as "nature's sleeping pill") which in the body metabolizes into serotonin and melatonin; these neuro-chemicals have important functions like sleep induction and in the treatment of epilepsy.