October 25, 2012

Canarium odontophyllum DABAI

The dabai fruit is a unique fruit found in Sarawak only. Its scientific name is canarium odontophyllum

Found only on good soils this cultivated fruit is much loved by the indigenous groups in Sarawak especially the Ibans who have been growing and selling this fruit for so long that most Chinese call this fruit the Native Gar Rang (the Chinese way of calling this fruit). The Chinese of Sarawak who are of Fujian origin had never seen this fruit before so they name the fruit after their Olive (Gar Rang) which can be eaten right off the tree.

The fruit is found in bunches and is white when immature. Midway the colour changes to pink and light purple (some say violet) and when ripe it is black. Breaking the fruit off the stalk will reveal a yellow spot. According to an expert the bigger the yellow spot the better the fruit i.e. more flesh and more succulent and definitely tasty.

Any wrinkles on the fruit would indicate dehydration and many days of having been plucked from the tree. Dabai must be plucked to retain its best taste. No one ever picks fallen dabai from the ground. It would be a rotten mass.

It is quite a skill to prepare the dabai for eating. Wash the fruit and pour warm water just enough to cover the fruits in a deep bowl. Use a glass bowl if possible because it can retain heat better. Cover the bowl until the fruits become soft. Once soft the dabai is ready to be eaten with salt or soy sauce. Or it can be peeled and be used for fried rice which we commonly call "Dabai Fried Rice" or in local terms "Oo Gar Rang Cha Buong or Gar Lan Chow Fun"

We also prepare a mashed dabai like we prepare mashed potatoes and this dish goes very well with hot and steaming rice!!

A flowering dabai tree
The dabai fruits must never be smothered. The chapan is the best tray to use for show casing freshly picked fruit.
The white trunk of some dabai trees
This is the usual way of selling dabai - 1 kilo bag...like onions.
cooked dabai...


Jay said...

I went to Nanga Nyunggun 2 day ago. It dabai season at nyunggun. We start our journey at 4.30am from sibu to catch the boat from Semaram to Ng Nyemah. It an interesting trip.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Jay....it must have been really god to catch the fruit season in the Kanowit area....did you make kunday? Can keep the fruit for ages.

Anonymous said...

its one of my favourite food to be eaten hot and steamy rice,sprinkled with some salt.yummy and delicious.Indeed cooking the olive needs some culinary skills and experience....temp of water must be just right to steep it till soft.
We eat not only the flesh but the inside of pods when smashed,will reveal something like candle nut,will be extracted delicately with the aid of hair pin..

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous,
We from Sarawak really love this fruit don't we. This fruit is unique and can only befound in Sarawak. So let us treasure it.
I love the crunchy kernel too....when roasted it is very sweet...thanks for visiting.

Ann said...

unique fruit found in Sarawak only, my mum says the same thing too when she went to Oz. she encouraged a new friend to grow it in Oz.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Does dabai grow in Oz?

Pak Leong said...

Sarawak dabai fruit seeds do not germinate , made sterile during cloning. Sipitang Sabah dabai fruit seeds germinate readily and can propagate throughout sabah.

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