Durian: A Tropical Fruit that Stuns with its Bad Smell and Delights with its Unique Aroma

Discovering this uniquely polarising exotic fruit

Photo of author

By Alex

Durian, often referred to as the “King of Fruits,” is a tropical delight renowned for its distinctive characteristics that evoke strong reactions from people. With its formidable spiky exterior and notorious aroma, durian is a fruit that ignites both curiosity and controversy. Hailing primarily from Southeast Asia, this unique fruit has captivated palates for centuries, offering a taste experience like no other.

In this introduction, we delve into the fascinating world of durian, exploring its origins, culinary versatility, and the polarizing debate surrounding its pungent smell. Join us on a journey to uncover the allure and mystery of the durian fruit.

What is Durian?

Durian is a tropical fruit known for its distinctive smell, often described as strong and pungent, with some people finding it unpleasant. It has a spiky outer shell and custard-like flesh inside.

This tropical fruit is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly found in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It’s often referred to as the “king of fruits” in the region.

Despite its odor, durian is highly prized for its rich, creamy texture and complex flavor profile, which is a mix of sweet and savory notes.

Why does durian smell so bad?

The distinctive smell of the fruit is due to the presence of a significant amount of hydrogen sulfide and highly volatile sulfites. There are 44 different compounds that contribute to the uniquely revolting smell of this tropical fruit.

The odor of the fruit is indeed among its decidedly least attractive characteristics, as the gases emitted even before opening resemble something rotten or spoiled. Comments describing it as the smell of particularly pungent cheese do not do it justice, in our opinion.

Its smell is so pungent that in the countries of origin there are establishments dedicated to the sale and consumption of durian, which are opened on all four sides to prevent the emissions of the ‘king of fruits’ from accumulating indoors.

It is worth noting that in countries where it is cultivated, there are also specific prohibitions on using it in enclosed spaces.

The pungent odor of durians has led to the grounding of planes and necessitated evacuations from subways, schools, and hospitals in the past.

durian
One of the first things that catches the eye about the durian when seen in person is that it’s not exactly a small fruit.

Nutritional properties of Durian

Durian is a nutrient-rich fruit that provides a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. Here are some of its nutritional properties:

  • Vitamins: Durian is a good source of vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and niacin (vitamin B3).
  • Minerals: It contains minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc, which are important for various bodily functions.
  • Fiber: It is high in dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion, promote satiety, and support overall gut health.
  • Healthy Fats: While this fruit is relatively high in calories, it also contains healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health.
  • Antioxidants: It also contains antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Carbohydrates: It is a rich source of carbohydrates, providing energy for the body.
  • Protein: While not as high in protein as some other foods, this exotic fruit still contains a moderate amount of this essential macronutrient.

Overall, durian can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet, but it’s important to consume it in moderation due to its high calorie content.

durian
This fruit should be cut using special gloves.

How to eat Durian

Eating durian can be an interesting and unique experience due to its strong aroma and unusual texture. Here’s how to eat durian:

  • Choose a Ripe Durian: Look for a durian with a slightly soft shell and a strong aroma. The aroma should be fragrant and appealing to you, as it’s a good indicator of ripeness and flavor.
  • Prepare the Durian: Use gloves and a sharp knife to carefully cut open the durian’s spiky shell. Be cautious as the spikes can be sharp. Once the shell is open, you’ll see several segments of creamy flesh inside.
  • Remove the Flesh: Carefully remove the flesh from the segments. You can use your hands or a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Be mindful of the large seeds inside each segment; discard them or save them for planting.
  • Enjoy: It can be eaten fresh on its own or used in various recipes like desserts, smoothies, or even savory dishes. Some people enjoy pairing it with sticky rice or coconut milk. Taste the flesh and savor its unique flavor and creamy texture.

Remember: After you’ve eaten the flesh, dispose of the durian shell properly. Due to its strong odor, it’s best to wrap it tightly in plastic or dispose of it in a sealed container to contain the smell. And don’t forget to clean up! Durian can leave a lingering odor on your hands and utensils. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and clean any utensils or surfaces that came into contact with the fruit. 

durian
This massive tropical fruit is also known as “The king of fruits” in some regions of Southeast Asia.

Recipes with Durian

Here are three delicious recipes featuring this peculiar tropical fruit:

Durian Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh durian flesh
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • tablespoon honey (optional, depending on sweetness preference)

Instructions:

  • In a blender, combine the fresh durian flesh, ripe banana, coconut milk, ice cubes, and honey (if using).
  • Blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the smoothie into glasses and serve immediately. Optionally, garnish with a slice of durian on the rim of the glass for presentation.

Durian Sticky Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh durian flesh for topping

Instructions:

  • Rinse the glutinous rice until the water runs clear, then soak it in water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the soaked rice and steam it until cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved, creating a sweet coconut sauce.
  • Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a bowl and pour the sweetened coconut sauce over it. Mix well to coat the rice evenly.
  • Serve the sticky rice topped with fresh durian flesh. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Durian Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 200g digestive biscuits (or graham crackers), crushed
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200ml heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh durian flesh
  • Fresh durian slices for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a bowl, mix together the crushed biscuits and melted butter until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan to form the cheesecake crust. Chill in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  • In another bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  • Add the fresh durian flesh to the cream cheese mixture and fold gently until evenly distributed.
  • Pour the durian cheesecake filling over the chilled crust in the springform pan. Smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or until set.
  • Before serving, garnish with fresh durian slices if desired. Slice and enjoy this decadent durian cheesecake!

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