Must-try durian-based food specially dedicated to durian lovers around the world.
Though the prickly tropical fruit known as the durian is often hailed as the Southeast Asian king of fruits, it tends to incite polarising reactions in first-time tasters. Some love the creamy taste of the flesh, while others may find the odour off-putting. However, make whatever you will of it, the durian flesh itself is surprisingly versatile. The flesh’s mildly creamy and sweet consistency means it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Since Malaysians are a rather innovative bunch, the outcome of this range somewhere between ‘sensible’ (like in durian cendol) and a bit outlandish (think Musang King durian crab).
While it’s hard to pinpoint who started this creative trend, durian cendol is what happens when you mix two of the best food fare Malaysia has to offer: durian and cendol. For the uninitiated, cendol is a traditional dessert served with coconut milk, gula Melaka (palm sugar), pandan-flavoured green rice flour jellies and red adzuki beans. For durian cendol, fresh durian is added to the cendol. The creamy durian flesh and coconut milk together with the sweet palm sugar makes a rather decadent combination.
Durian puffs aren’t distinguishable from its custard-filled counterparts from the outside. On the inside, though, it’s filled with smooth, durian cream filling. Once the taste of the cream hits you, there’s nothing quite like it. Have them fresh out of the oven, or have them to-go: it doesn’t matter. One of the earliest, and more famous peddlers of durian puff in Kuala Lumpur would be Taste Better Malaysia (@tastebetter.my on Instagram).
The creamy texture and mild sweetness of the durian flesh makes it a good addition to ice cream. A scoop, or a bar, of local durian ice cream is a great treat to battle Malaysia’s sweltering heat. While Inside Scoop does serve delicious D24 durian ice cream at its many outlets nationwide, bigger commercial ice-cream maker brands such as Wall’s and Nestle have also churned out their own versions of the durian ice-cream that can be found at any convenience store or supermarkets.
A common sight during Malay-Muslim festive celebrations and even weddings, dodol is a traditional toffee-like palm-based candy. Made of sugar, brown sugar or palm sugar, rice flour and coconut milk, it is sticky, sweet and chewy. The original version has no durian flavour, so durian-flavoured dodol is usually a bit of a novelty.
A speciality of the Fei Fei Crab Restaurant in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, this particular combination of crab cooked in Musang King-type durian sauce may sound a little odd, but according to the restaurant owner himself the ‘cooling effect’ of crabs and the ‘heaty’ durian make this dish one of the best combination. It’s apparently best served with the restaurant’s crispy fried Chinese buns.
As with other durian-based dish, gulai tempoyak ikan patin is a bit of an acquired taste. This dish is particularly famous in the district of Temerloh, Pahang, which happens to be where the country’s freshest ikan patin (freshwater silver catfish) can be found in abundance. The tempoyak (also known as asam durian), or fermented durian paste with salt, is a condiment created to ensure lesser quality durian flesh will not go to waste. This paste forms the flavour base of this slightly yellow, watery dish, which may not sound very appetising when described, but makes for a deliciously satisfying dish especially when served with a plate of steaming hot white rice.
Malaysian-style butter chicken is rather distinct from the Indian-style butter chicken or Murgh Makhani (which is quite common in the United Kingdom), with the Malaysian dish’s sauce made by combining butter, evaporated milk, garlic cloves, curry leaves and both sugar and salt to taste. But durian Malaysian-style butter chicken? An invention of Petaling Jaya-based pop-up outlet, Projek Dapur Umar (PDU) - @projekdapurumar on Instagram and Twitter, the durian butter chicken is often mistaken as tempoyak butter chicken at first taste, when it’s actually sweeter in taste than the latter. The founder of PDU, Umar Abdul Aziz decided to come up with the dish due to the sheer difficulty of finding Malaysian-style butter chicken in Kuala Lumpur’s Kampung Datuk Keramat - which also has an abundance of durians come each durian season. Hours of perfecting the creamy and decadent durian-laced butter chicken sauce then led to PDU’s signature dish.
Durian-based food and dishes are essentially one of the best ways to try the many flavours that can come from the durian flesh without having to eat the actual fruit in its original form. If you’re generally durian-averse, do try one of these aforementioned dishes instead the next time durian season comes around.