11 Tropical Fruits to Try in Bali & Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia, is a tropical paradise teeming with an incredible variety of exotic fruits that are not only a delight to the taste buds but also offer numerous health benefits. Thanks to Indonesia’s tropical climate, many of these fruits thrive year-round, ensuring that visitors can savor their juicy goodness anytime they visit this enchanting archipelago.
While a few Indonesian fruits might be found in other parts of the world, there’s a unique array waiting to be explored exclusively on the islands. To introduce you to the tropical fruit wonders of Bali and Indonesia, here’s a compilation of some of our favorites.
Let’s explore Bali’s culinary tropical fruit treasures to savor on your visit. Don’t miss out!
1. Mangosteen (Manggis)
Among the gems of Indonesia’s tropical fruit basket, the mangosteen stands out for its unique flavor and versatility. Known locally as manggis, it has a thick, purple rind that conceals segments of juicy, sweet, and slightly tangy flesh.
Mangosteen is typically enjoyed fresh and raw, with its succulent segments eaten straight from the fruit. It’s common in local fruit markets and street stalls across Indonesia. However, you can find some fruit salads with mangosteen in it – though it’s not so common.
To get into the fruit, you squeeze the mangosteen between the palms of your hand. The soft rind cracks open and exposes the delicious segments inside. The segments can vary in size, and the larger ones usually have a mangosteen seed inside them – don’t eat or bite into it since it’s very bitter. You can tell how many segments are inside the fruit by looking at the “clover” bit at the bottom of the fruit.
2. Snakeskin Fruit (Salak)
Snakeskin fruit, locally known as salak, is another star of Indonesia’s tropical fruit repertoire. Its reddish-brown scaly skin resembles snake scales, which is where it gets its name from. This unique appearance is a prelude to its sweet and tangy flesh, which is a delightful treat for the taste buds.
Before you can savor its deliciousness, you need to peel away the outer skin. There’s also a layer of transparent membrane, which is edible, but you should still peel it away to experience the crunchy meat to its fullest.
Salak is often eaten fresh, but there are a handful of dishes that use them as an ingredient. Some of the more popular dishes are asinan salak (pickled snakeskin fruits), manisan salak (candied snakeskin fruit), and sekoteng salak (a ginger-based salak drink).
In the realm of Indonesian tropical fruits, the durian stands out as a divisive yet captivating contender. Often dubbed the “King of Fruits,” it garners attention for its strong aroma, which some find overpowering, while others are drawn to its rich and custard-like flesh.
The most common approach is to enjoy it fresh. It’s a bit tricky to open durian’s thick and thorny rind, but locals often do it with a big chef’s knife or simply by stepping on it until it cracks. But once open, you’ll be welcomed by creamy fruits with a complex blend of sweet and savory notes, making it a unique culinary experience. Either that or you won’t be able to stand the strong odor – you either love it or hate it.
As well as raw, durian can also be found in an array of desserts, from durian pancakes to durian ice cream, where its creamy texture adds a luscious richness. There are also stalls selling durian kocok (durian milkshake) throughout Bali and Indonesia.
Durian may not be for everyone, but it undeniably holds a special place in Indonesia’s culinary landscape, provoking curiosity and intrigue among those who dare to try it.
Editor’s Note: Durian has conquered the Asian market and is one of the most trendiest fruits in China and other Asian countries.
Moving away from Bali and extending throughout various parts of Indonesia, rambutan is a tropical fruit that’s both visually striking and delectably sweet. While it’s readily available in Bali, it’s also grown in other Indonesian regions, including Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi.
Rambutan’s appearance, with its hairy and spiky skin, contrasts with its sweet and juicy interior. It’s commonly enjoyed fresh, simply by peeling away the skin to reveal the translucent, grape-like flesh within. You can easily find these tropical delicacies at roadside stalls, bustling markets, and street food vendors.
Rambutan is also a popular choice for fruit salads, offering a burst of sweetness and juiciness. You can also find rambutan incorporated into traditional Indonesian desserts such as sop buah (fruit soup).
Whether savored on its own or used as a delightful addition to sweets, rambutan exemplifies the vibrant and diverse world of Indonesian tropical fruits, making it a must-try when visiting not only Bali but various regions of Indonesia.
Another tropical fruit found in the bountiful orchards of Bali and other Indonesian regions is soursop, known locally as sirsak. It is celebrated for its unique sweet-and-sour flavor and creamy texture.
In Indonesia, soursop is frequently juiced to create a refreshing and nutrient-packed beverage. Soursop juice is a popular choice for locals and visitors seeking a tropical and revitalizing drink. It’s enjoyed for its potential health properties and refreshing taste, making it a sought-after refreshment in the hot and humid Indonesian climate.
Soursop also features in desserts, smoothies, and even savory dishes in Indonesian cuisine. Its versatility and unique flavor make it a fascinating addition to the tropical fruit offerings of Bali and Indonesia.
Known locally as juwet, jamblang or jambul, this dark purple fruit is a common sight throughout Bali and Indonesia. It has a sweet and tangy flavor that resembles a tasteful combination of a plum and a cherry.
Java plum is enjoyed fresh as a snack and is often found in traditional Indonesian fruit salads. What sets it apart is its role in Indonesian cuisine, where it’s frequently used to make a unique and beloved delicacy called rujak jamblang.
Rujak jamblang is a spicy fruit salad made by mixing slices of Java plum with a flavorful sauce made from chili, tamarind, brown sugar, and shrimp paste. The combination of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors creates a taste sensation that is both refreshing and satisfying. This dish is a testament to Indonesia’s culinary creativity and its ability to transform local fruits into culinary delights.
Technically speaking, jeruk Kintamani, or Kintamani oranges, don’t refer to one specific type of orange but rather to the area where the fruit is grown. Kintamani is a district located on the west side of Mount Batur. It’s a highland area with beautiful mountainous views all around – making it a perfect ground to farm oranges.
Oranges produced in Kintamani are known among Indonesians to be extraordinarily sweet with a hint of sourness that makes oranges – well, oranges. Kintamani oranges have become a hallmark of Bali’s unique flavors and agricultural heritage.
Most farmers around Kintamani grow jeruk siam (tangerines), which you should definitely give a try the next time you visit Bali. These golf-ball-sized citric delicacies boast a harmonious blend of sweetness with a gentle tang, making them a preferred choice for those seeking a refreshing and natural citrus experience.
Beyond snacking and juicing, Kintamani oranges find their way into a spectrum of culinary delights, from vibrant salads to delectable desserts. Their presence in Balinese cuisine is a testament to their universal appeal.
For local tourists, jeruk Kintamani serves as a beloved souvenir, reflecting the essence of Bali’s agricultural bounty. You can readily find these oranges in local markets and roadside stalls, making it convenient for visitors to take a piece of Bali’s flavors back home. But for the most authentic taste, you should get the ones sold around Kintamani.
In the tropical paradise of Bali, the pomelo, known locally as jeruk Bali or limau Bali, reigns as a citrus giant. This oversized fruit, resembling a grapefruit but with a milder flavor, has earned a special place in Indonesian cuisine and culture.
Pomelos in Bali are prized for their large size, thick green or yellow rind, and sweet, juicy flesh. They are commonly enjoyed fresh, with the segments separated and savored as a refreshing snack.
Delightfully refreshing as a snack, you can also find pomelos in many Balinese cuisines. The locals are particularly fond of candied pomelo and using them in fruit salads. But if you’re the daring type, they also sell pickled pomelo rind. Yes, you read that right. You can eat the thick inedible peel of the pomelo once it’s pickled.
Aside from its popularity as a delicacy, pomelos also hold a special spiritual value in Bali. During special occasions and ceremonies, pomelos are often used as offerings and decorations, symbolizing prosperity and blessings.
Boni is a fruit from a rare species of tree that grows throughout Bali, Java, and Sumatra. The buni fruit is a type of wild berry that can be found in fruit markets across Bali. These small and round berries grow in clusters and come in white, reddish, and black colors. Although the buni fruit is not as well-known as other tropical fruits, it is still cherished for its unique taste and versatility in local cuisine.
The buni fruit can be eaten fresh or used as an ingredient in various dishes. Its sweet and slightly tangy flavor makes it a refreshing snack on a hot day. You can also find the buni fruit can be added to salads to provide a burst of flavor and texture. Its vibrant colors make salads more visually appealing. In some traditional Balinese dishes, the buni fruit is cooked into a sauce or jam. This sauce adds a unique fruity flavor to savory dishes such as grilled meats or roasted vegetables.
Unfortunately, the availability of the buni fruit may vary depending on the season and location. It’s best to visit local markets or ask locals for recommendations on where to find this delightful fruit.
Among the must-try tropical fruits in Bali, ambarella, fondly known locally as kedondong, stands out as a delightful culinary discovery. With its sweet and tangy flavor, it adds a unique dimension to Bali’s vibrant fruit offerings.
When eaten fresh, kedondong is a refreshing snack, with the fruit’s firm, green skin giving way to juicy, tart-sweet flesh. The balance between sour and sweet makes it a delightful treat, especially on a warm Balinese day.
Kedondong’s tangy flavor is often harnessed in savory dishes, where it’s used to create sauces and pickles. You may encounter it in traditional Indonesian salads and condiments, adding a zesty twist to the flavors.
In Bali, kedondong’s versatility shines in a range of culinary applications, from fruit salads to spicy sambal condiments. Its ability to enhance both sweet and savory dishes makes it a beloved and integral part of Balinese gastronomy.
The nyuh gading, or yellow coconut, holds a special place as one of the island’s delightful and refreshing treasures. Unlike the more common green coconuts, nyuh gading distinguishes itself with its vibrant yellow-green husk.
The water and flesh of nyuh gading are typically enjoyed fresh. Its sweet and electrolyte-rich water provides a much-needed respite from Bali’s warm climate. It also has a versatile use in Balinese cuisine. The soft, jelly-like flesh of this coconut variety adds a creamy texture and a mildly sweet flavor to a range of dishes. You can find it in traditional Indonesian desserts such as es teler, where it’s combined with other fruits and ingredients to create a delightful treat.
Beyond its culinary applications, nyuh gading plays a vital role in Balinese traditional rituals and ceremonies. Hindus in Bali use nyuh gading in religious practices, symbolizing purity and blessings. Whether this is your first or hundredth visit to Bali, these fruits are must-try delicacies that you may not be able to find back home – especially if you’re from a sub-tropical country. So, be sure to give them a taste before you have to catch your flight back home.