Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Seasonal fruits - Ong Balem ( Mangifera pajang)

'Ong Balem' are what the local Melanaus here name the seasonal fruit which look like canon balls in the picture above. They have a thick skin but are easily removed from the flesh as in the next picture below. The Ibans refer to them as 'bambangan'. They are found wild though many are nowadays cultivated in rural orchards. These fruits can weigh between 1-2 kilos and can reach 10 - 15 cm long or 10 - 15 cm wide. Most of them are spherical. Because of this unique shape and quality ( i.e. without hairs) the Melanaus would jokingly refer to a bald headed person's head as 'ong balem'.
The thick yellow flesh are fibrous and can be fine or rough in texture. The skin can be chopped into vegetables , eaten as salad with 'sambal belacan' or shrimp paste and pickled.
Above, the slices are ready to be eaten raw. Depending on the variety the flesh can taste extremely sweet or sour sweet. Because the skin is thick, the fruits once harvested can have a long shelf life averaging about two weeks. After peeling all the yellow flesh away, what is left is a big seed which tastes bitter and seldom eaten.

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