It's that time of year again and each time the wait seems so much longer! The season of Rambutan, Durian and Mangosteen a fruity feast of tropical indulgence, the star of these is widely hailed as the Rambutan that comes most commonly in a fiery red, followed by green and yellow.
TIf you are in Sri Lanka as of now, by now you would have seen the sides of the roads lined with towering layers of colour. Rambutan (botanical name-Nephelium lappaceum) ranging in price, size and variety is now dominating the island during it's season. Coated with a rather tough, hairy skin, the hard work in peeling off the layers is rewarded when you tuck into the juicy flesh that lies underneath similar to lychee. The sweet aroma of the fruit can be sensed from far away as vendors line up with piles of these fruits, resembled to rubies.
Rambutan is primarily sourced from Malwana in Sri Lanka, a region that is abundant with Rambutan trees and where a vast majority of people own at least 1-2 trees. Vendors purchase the fruits from these owners and bring them to us. Seeing as how it is still the beginning of the season a fruit can go from anywhere between Rs. 10-12 and as the season wanes, these prices gradually decline. Some of these vendors have been around for over 20 years whilst others have just stepped into the trade. They also appear seasonally, working as tuk-tuk drivers or doing other odd jobs during the off-season times.
A fruit best harvested in the mid-country and low-country wet zone of the island, it has high demand locally and is also exported on a smaller scale to countries such as Germany and France. Unlike most other fruits, this ripens on the tree and cannot be plucked and kept to mature at a later date. No other forms of chemicals are injected into this fruit making it one of the safest and most nutritious options out there due to the following:
Rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vit C, Vit A, fat, calcium, Iron, Protein, Nitrogen, Sodium, Zinc, Thiamin, Riboflavin etc., eating five fruits a day is said to decrease the chance of getting extreme illnesses such as cancer. It is also known to be useful in preventing diarrhea and dysentery and effective in lowering blood pressure. It is a great thirst-quencher, widely popular with travellers.
Practice environmental awareness and collect the Rambutan shells to dispose of responsibly. Strewn about shells is a breeding ground for Dengue mosquitoes which has been a threat in Sri Lanka over many years. So whilst indulging in the throes of fruity goodness, do your bit to help keep our little island clean!
Durian, a fruit more popularly known around the world is not limited to Sri Lankan soil. It is common knowledge that once you have made its acquaintance you will either love it or hate it. Coinciding with the Rambutan season, Durian can be seen stacked up right next to the Rambutan stalls and can be recognized from their much bigger seize and thorny husk. Filled with a creamy, white flesh, it largely resembles the Jackfruit. This fruit is confusing in terms of its properties. In fact, the odor has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in South-east Asia.
As if these were't delights in themselves, joining the season's ranking is the purple hued Mangosteen that assumes a wine-red colour when ripe. Found mainly in the dry zone areas such as Kalutara, is it also referred to botanically as Garcinia mangostana. When the soft coating is ripped apart, the fruit is neatly sliced by nature into wedges making it quite easy to consume. Mangosteen can also be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India to name a few with trees reaching anywhere between 20-60 ft in height. In this part of the world, the fruit is widely revered as the Queen of fruits and we can't say we disagree!
If you are in Sri Lanka, now would be a good time to get your tropical fruit cravings under control and maybe discover some new and healthy recipes while youíre at it too!