Saturday 30 August 2014

What is that Stinky Smell?

My summer break is coming to an end. Very soon I have to get back to my routine work. I had a very good working-holiday in Thailand and Sri Lanka. The highlight of the vacation was a visit to a fruit orchard in Rayong.

July-August time is the fruit season in tropical countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka. A variety of fruits are grown in large scale In Thailand. Fruit orchards are quite omnipresent in famous fruit growing provinces like Rayong and Chanthaburi. These orchards usually produce durian, rambutan, mangosteen, sala (sour palm) and langsat (ගඩුගුඩා). Among them, durian is known as the “king of fruits”.

    (At Suphattra Farm: source: Internet)

Those who like durian, really love it. The others really hate even its smell. My family belongs to the first group. We never let a chance to enjoy a good ripe fruit of durian. We even introduced the taste of durian to our children at very young age. Once I went somewhere with my wife leaving our 5 year old daughter with my younger brother and sister-in-law. They have brought a durian fruit and opened it. They were not sure whether they should give a piece to the kid. So they ate the whole fruit while the kid was looking on. When we came back home that evening she said “මෙහෙම දුරියන් පෙරේතයො දෙන්නෙක් මම නම් දැකල නැහැ. මට කෑල්ලක්වත් දෙන්නෙ නැතුව ඔක්කොම කෑව”.  She was mimicking some phrases that her grandmother often used. We all had a hearty laugh. Kids are kids. They quickly learn words of adults.

One day, while going to a tuition class in the evening I saw a notice at Thilaka Jayanthi Cool Spot in Maharagama.  අද විශේෂ - දුරියන් ජූස් (Today’s Special - Durian Juice). I wanted to try that because I have never tasted durian in juice form.  It tasted so delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Then I went to the class. Soon I felt my tummy bloating. Perhaps the juice got highly aerated when it was churned in the blender. Burp after burp after burp …….. so many burps came out and spread delicious durian smell all over. The whole class burst into a hysterical laugh. Some classmates were making fun of me. Some girls were closing their noses. I could not take it anymore. I left the class and never returned. That night I suffered very much. Never ever drink durian juice. I learnt a hard lesson.

My second durian episode happened in Thailand. One day I went to see the CFO of our institute, Mr. Vejjajeeva. He asked me, “where are you from?”.…. I said, “I am from Sri Lanka”… “Are you a Buddhist?” …. “Yes, I am”….” Very well, we are going to visit a temple in Chanthaburi this weekend to offer alms to monks. If you like to join us, tell the GRO (Governments Relations Officer) to include your name”. I immediately met Mr. Pravit and requested to include me and my wife in the list. Saturday came and we left early in the morning by a coach. There were about 40 people including two Sri Lankan school teachers who have come for a short training program at our institute. We reached the temple about 11 am. The temple was just normal and the alms giving uneventful. Thai participants did not want to eat the left over alms. They wanted to eat seafood that Chantaburi is also famous for. We followed them and enjoyed a scrumptious seafood lunch of shrimp and crabs.

               (not the real place, Source: internet)

After the lunch, Mr. Pravit announced that “we are visiting Mr. Vejjajeeva’s orchard”. We were stuffed up to neck and wanted a nap but we did not want to miss the chance of visiting a fruit orchard either. When we arrived there we saw a huge Roman style mansion in the middle of a large mixed-fruit plantation. There was a long buffet table of fruits waiting for us in the middle of the entrance porch. The pride of the buffet was freshly opened durians. We feasted on durian and mangosteen just after shrimps and crabs. What a combination. That evening was my second time to regret. 

In Sri Lanka durian and mangosteen are considered as heaty fruits, but I learned that Thais consider durian as heaty and mangosteen as cool. Therefore they should be eaten together in order to get a perfect balance.

               (source: Internet)

In Sri Lanka, durian trees are very tall and you have to wait until ripe fruits fall down. I guess they belong to an indigenous variety. In Thailand, they grow hybrid durian varieties. They are just about 4-5m tall and branches are full of fruits.

In Sri Lanka people usually buy durian fruits that are just split open. In Thailand, no one buy durian fruits like that. Therefore such fruits are sent for producing sweets like candy, bars, cream etc. Durian experts tap fruits using a wooden stuck and listen for the hollow sound to determine its degree of ripeness. Opening of such a durian fruit is a great skill.

This summer I learnt that there are 4 popular hybrid durian varieties grown in Thailand. They are;

Chanee – oblong shape with a round end, green color

Mongthong – oblong shape with a pointed end, rusty green color

Kanyao – round shape, light green color

Kradumthong – oblate shape, green color




(Read this article if you are interested in details.

The Mongthong variety is the most popular because the seeds are smaller and the flesh is thicker. I was told that a Mongthong fruit from Nonthaburi Province near Bangkok can fetch about 150 USD. Durian fruits from Nonthaburi are believed to be the most delicious among all. One has to order in advance due to limited production.

If anybody dares to drink durian in liquid form, here is a recipe for a delicious durian smoothie.


1 cup Durian flesh

1 banana

1 cup crushed ice

½ cup milk

1 tbsp condensed milk


Put all ingredients into a blender and churn to the desired degree of smoothness.


  1. good story! too bad i don't eat durians so cannot really offer my comment. All I know, Thais and Indonesians eat durian in different way. Thais prefer it to be not too ripe, while indonesians like it to be very ripe; the more stinky the smell, the better the taste. that's why Indonesians can go to Thalad Thai and get some durians for very cheap and even free, because these are considered left over by the Thais.

    1. You are a different kind of an Indonesian. I know Indonesians are very fond of Durian. I think Indonesian way and Sri Lankan way are similar. Both like well ripen durians. I have tasted durian in Indonesia several times. I think they are from an indigenous variety. The fruit looked very similar to Sri Lankan variety. I first tasted durian with ice cream in Bandung while waiting for Nino to pick me from a shopping center. I saw many people surrounding a street cart. When I peeped in I discovered the delicacy.