Thailand’s rainbow of unusual tropical fruit types offer a taste sensation that perfectly complements the rich flavours of Thai cuisine. Home grown specialities cover the gamut of tatses and textures, from sweet lychee to creamy durian, and the many of these delicate temptations come into season during March, April and May.
While many visitors exploring the Land of Smiles may skip the more exotic fruits in favour of sweet favourites like watermelon and mango; a holiday is the perfect time to get adventurous and try something new.
A trip to the local fresh produce market reveals the Kingdom’s fruity treasures in all their glory, and first-time visitors often marvel at the sheer range of shapes, colours and sizes of the fruit on offer.
Better yet is the taste, so why not ask the villa chef to select a few local favourites and indulge in a fruity feast.
Also known as the ‘King of the Fruits’, the durian is pretty much a love it or loathe it taste experience. Covered in a spiky shell-like exterior, durians in Thailand tend to be harvested before they are fully ripe, unlike in neighbouring Malaysia where durian is generally eaten when the flesh has melted into a sticky custard. Crack open your durian, and you have a wonderfully sweet-tasting fruit that is quite unlike any other fruit you will ever try. They may be banned from some hotels because of their strong fragrance, but their popularity in Asia is unchallenged. For an indulgent dessert, serve your durian with sticky rice and coconut cream.
Despite the name, the mangosteen bears no relation to the mango in appearance or taste. Celebrated as the national fruit of Thailand, the mangosteen is a small fruit with an aubergine-coloured shell that bears a soft white flesh that boasts the tingly taste of sherbert. Mangosteens are easy to peel and eat with your hands, which makes them for a picnic or healthy afternoon snack on the beach. What is more, these nifty little fruits are high in antioxidants which mean they repair your skin from free radical damage and help protect you from cancer.
If you spot an alien-looking fruit in Thailand that looks a little like spikey magenta stress balls, that's rambutan. The fruit takes its name from the Malay word ‘rambut’, which means ‘hair’. Beneath the unruly pink rind is a soft white flesh with a stone in the middle, which most closely resembles the sweet and sour tang of a grape when it comes to taste. Rambutans are a great source of iron and also have antiseptic qualities.
While you may have tried lychees at home, you might not have savoured the exquisite taste of Thai lychees when they are freshly plucked from the tree. Unlike many other Thai fruits, lychees are only in season for a few months of the year (April – June) so it's best to get your hands on them while you can. Peel back the bumpy pink rind of the lychee, which is about the size of a golf ball, and you will have a scrumptious layer of sweet white flesh to feast on. The only drawback is that there isn’t much flesh in a single lychee, so you will probably need a whole bowl.
Jackfruits are an Asian speciality, and Thailand is a great place to enjoy this wonderful fruit. Prickly on the outside, a jackfruit yields a collection of daffodil-yellow pods once cracked open. With a delectable flavour that combines a mixture of apple, mango, pineapple and banana. High in fibre, jackfruit is most commonly eaten as a popular dessert. However, if you’re feeling adventurous in your villa’s kitchen one afternoon, the green fruit of an unripe jackfruit (which tastes less sweet) can also be used in vegetarian dishes as a substitute to meat due to its consistency.