More exotic fruits from our rainforest(part 2) – langgir,the fruit for shampoo

Langgir is a very special fruit to me.It reminds me of my late mother.I have fond memories of langgir.Though it tastes just plainly sweet without much flavor,langgir holds a very special place in my heart.


Langgir fruits
Ripe langgir fruits

When I was in primary school , I was my mom’s shampoo girl.I helped her to comb her hair with a wooden comb and langgir shampoo.She would pour langgir shampoo on her hair continuously and my job was combing her waist long hair non-stop for almost half an hour.Not very long after my first few services I learned to escape from this combing task halfway by telling her I wanted to read books borrowed from the school library.You see,she knew I read a lot but seldom studied.

“Mom , I got a pile of books to be returned.”I would tell her this as soon as I spotted a passer-by who could replace me.

“Well then, go and get a replacement .” She would tell me so.

Off I went and grabbed any lady passing by our old house and told them my mom needed extra hands.Most of them were Iban mothers who were on their way to the bazaar across river or on their way back to their longhouses which were 1/2- 1 hour walk from our house.They were just too happy to help because they would chat non-stop till the last drop of langgir shampoo gone into drain.All those ‘Induo'(ladies in Iban) were her good friends.

Langgir in the market
Langgir in the market

Langgir in Malay or Langir in Iban,is Xanthophyllum amoenum Chodat in Latin.It has a Hakka name – 青蓝壳 which means greenish blue shell.Its fruit is about 4 cm in diameter.Its immature fruit is green and turns yellowish green when it is ripe.The skin is thin,soft and easily crushed.That is why langgir fruits are never perfectly round.Very often the skin is indented.Each fruit has 4-5 brown large seeds covered with  thin aril.The pulp clings to the seed and is sweet  and lack of flavor.Some people loves its taste especially after keeping in the fridge it tastes sweet and juicy.

What is special about langgir is its skin.Do not throw away its skin after finish eating the fruits.Our natives in the markets do sell langgir skin in strings.


Langgir dry skin
Dry langgir skin

Dried skin of langgir can be crushed and boiled in water to be used as a natural shampoo.It produces bubbles when it is mixed with hot or cool water.It is a good remedy for dandruff.Ibans in Sarawak believe that prolonged use of the langgir shampoo will result in glossy black hair.And indeed it was true in my mom’s case.She had black long hair until she was 60 years old whereas my hair turned grey even before my 50th birthday!

Langgir tree laden with fruits.
Langgir tree laden with fruits.

Besides being used as shampoo,langgir dried skin can be used as detergent too. Boiled langgir skin water  was used by the Iban people for washing clothes.Look at the two pictures shown below.

Soiled tablecloth before soaking in the boiled langgir water.

I did an experiment on a piece of tablecloth.First,I poured oil over it and then soaked it overnight in a bucket of boiled langgir skin water.The bubbles disappeared and the table cloth came out clean of traces of oil.This shows that it can remove oil from soiled cloth.Check table 1 for its nutritional value here.

Clean and dry table cloth after soaking for one night in boiled langgir water.

Ok,let’s have langgir shampoo and detergent in the market.Don’t play play with PCK Pte Ltd.We are going for real,hehehe………


Our rainforest is full of surprises .There are fruits,shampoo,detergent,edible ferns,herbs and what else ? 

Oh,yes,timber, of course and animals plus waterfalls and caves……..Yes,endless resources from the nature ……..





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More exotic fruits from our rainforest ( part 1 ) – Engkalak vs Avocado

Engkala(Litsea garciae) and avocado(Persea americana) belong to the same family of lauraceae.Engkala is also known as the butter fruit.

I spent my childhood in my hometown where wild fruits were plenty and engkala/engkalak was one of the many exotic fruits we ate like snack in between meals.As a vegetarian or vegan, eating fruits for dinner or any other meals everyday is an important step towards daily detoxification.

Those were the days when wild fruits were abundant.They were found growing near small streams and hill slope.Engkala is now mostly grown near the longhouses and in villages.

Engkala bintang is smaller in size and is red in color as compared to Engkala bulan which is pinkish in color.

 There are two varieties of Engkala,one is Engkala susu or Engkala bulan,bigger and pink colored and the other one is mini engkala called engkala bintang.Hakka people call engkala’ Ta hak ‘.In Chinese it is 菜燶子.The smaller variety is called Engkala bintang which is richer in taste than the bigger variety called Engkala bulan.

Texture wise,Engkala tastes like avocado and dabai mixed but lacking the richer flavor of both of these two fruits.Some people may not agree with me but personally,I will eat engkala when there are no dabai  to be found in markets.Most people like Engkala bintang which looks very exotic and its sweet taste and richer flavor than the bigger engkala bulan makes it top on the list of ‘must try fruit’ in Sarawak.


Engkala tree
Engkala tree laden with unripe fruits.

There are three ways of preparing engkala.Remove the cap-like stalks before preparing the fruits.Wash and rinse the fruits carefully.

1)Tap the fruit gently with the back of a spoon and soon the fruit pulp becomes soft and mushy.Squeeze out the seed and eat the pulp with a bit of salt( as written by Yi Chang of Sarawakiana@2).Honestly,this is the first time I learn of this method.The Iban in my hometown area never taught us this way of preparing buah engkala.They even reminded my late mom not to eat the fruit raw.

2)Sprinkle rock salt over the fruits in a pot.Cover the pot and toss the fruits gently so that fruits are mixed evenly with salt.Wait for 20 minutes.By then the fruits would become soft.The pulp is then creamy and tasty.

3)Soak the fruits in warm water for 5-10 minutes.Throw away the water and sprinkle some rock salt on the fruit.Toss and eat right away.So far this is the most popular way of relishing the fruits.Most Chinese and Bidayuh people would prefer this way of preparing engkala.I was told not to eat this fruit raw for unknown reason.


Engkala bintang bought from the market.

A lot of locals,Chinese and natives alike,love engkala .I prefer avocado to engkala.Avocado has richer flavor and the pulp is fine and smooth.

The picture below shows some local avocados which I believe has an origin from Bandung,Java but are widely cultivated in Kalimantan.It is not as creamy as the imported one but for making cheese and avocado spread for bread is just as good as the Australian avocados.

Avocado is an important food for vegetarians and vegans likewise.

Locally grown avocados bought from the market.
Locally grown avocados bought from the market.

These local avocados from the Bidayuh villages have watery flesh and do not have a rich flavor like the imported ones.Most of them weigh around 300 -400 g.

Recipes of avocados as bread spread are plenty in the net.

You just have to slice it,mash it and blend with cheese or mashed potatoes.

I hope more cafes in Kuching will make full use of our local avocados.Mashed avocados can be used as raw topping on pizza together with capsicum and sweet corn kernels.For nutritional content of Engkala,please click table 1.

Chinese new year is just a few days away.I hope I can find more long lost exotic fruits.One of them is buah engkilili/angkali.Now, where have they gone to? There are four of them on my list of ‘must find’.Just a decade ago,I have no problem finding them at the well-known Satok Market.Where have they gone to ? Sigh……

Oh yes,I have found  Engkilili/Ceri Trengganu not so long ago.There is a town called Engkilili named after this fruit which was abundant along a small river opposite the second row of shops.This small river is thus named Sungai Engkilili.Its ID is Lepisanthes alata.

The attractive cherry red fruits of buah Engkilili.
The attractive bunches of cherry red fruits of buah Engkilili.

 The fruit itself has little commercial value due to its small size,thin mucilage and two big seeds.The immature fruits are dark purple  in colour and turn to cherry red colour on ripening.It can be grown as an ornamental tree or fish food tree.It tastes very much like the less sweet version of peanut butter fruit(Bunchosia argentea).

Small tree of Engkilili
Small tree of Engkilili which can grow up to 15 m tall.


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More goodies from our rainforest -Terap vs Bintawak

 Artocarpus is a genus of trees found in South-eastern Asia and in the Pacific.

The fruits in the genus of Artocarpus are terap,tempunik,pingan, bintawak,tekalong,terap bulu ,cempedak,nangka and kemangsi.In this post,we will just focus on terap,terap bulu and bintawak.

At first glance of terap and terap bulu , people tend to think of them as jackfruit or cempedak except they have rounder body than the jackfruits.The fruit pulp looks like that of the jackfruit but it is white , unlike that of the jackfruit which is orange or yellow. Its flesh is much softer and creamy.

Wild pedalai – heavenly fruit of unknown ID

 One of my favorite jungle fruits is this wild pedalai  which is endemic to Borneo.Its pulp is so sweet , just like milk shake.Its white pulp is so soft that it melts in the mouth, just like drinking milk shake,simply delicious.Its ID is not clear,probably is a variety of terap bulu/pedalai.It has very fleshy pulp and thick skin which is different from the regular terap bulu . I was told by the vendor that it was called pingan but later I found out that pingan fruit could not be as big as terap. Pingan is mini terap,almost 100% wild.I will update on pingan and terkalong later,so stay tuned.

Left - tekalong(Artocarpus elassticus)      Right - Wild terap,ancestor of terap
Left – tekalong(Artocarpus elasticus) Right – Wild terap,ancestor of terap/buah langsay

Tekalong shown above is a small type of wild terap,measuring up to 10 x 6cm.It has seeds with white pulp,just like terap.The ripe fruit has strong smell.The bark is used by natives for making house-walls and for strings and in clothings.

The second picture above shows the wild terap which is known to be ancestor of cultivated terap.It is smaller in size,measuring up to 14 x 8 cm.The fruit is pear shaped or oblong shaped like the cempedak and  becomes brownish on ripening.It tastes sweeter than the regular terap without the strong smell.Its Hakka name is Pulung dang.

Terap trees are mostly semi-wild though there are still a lot in the jungle.In the past there had been a limited supply of this fruit in the markets. Nowadays we are seeing more of these fruits in the markets probably due to more semi-wild trees are fruiting in the villages.


The picture above and below show terap in Malay or as marang in the Philippines.Its botanical name is Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco.As the name implies,it has sweet pungent odor but the pungent odor is in the skin,not in the fruit pulp.It is oblong,about 20 x 15cm.Best harvest before it is over-ripe and falls to the ground,end up a broken fruit instead.The fruit pulp is sweet and rich in flavour.The seeds are edible after boiling or roasting.

Terap (Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco)
Terap (Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco)

On ripening , terap skin remains green with very dense,straight green protrusions on its skin.A sweet pungent odor becomes stronger as it ripens.

The picture below shows terap bulu (Malay),Pedalai (Iban).Its ID is Artocarpus sericicarpus Jarret.It is a hairy version of the regular terap but without the odour.Depending on the variety,some taste as good as the terap but one variety has thinner pulp than the regular terap.

Terap bulu/Pedalai

Their seeds are edible after boiling or roasting.The above three have white fleshy pulp.Terap fruit is best collected from the tree before it falls on the ground and get crushed.


The picture above shows another fruit of same genus in the same family of Moraceae – buah bintawak/bintawa.Its botanical name is Artocarpus anisophyllus Miq.The fruit measures up to 12 X 9 cm and looks exactly like terap except it is yellowish brown in color and the pulp is small,orange and less fleshy with a mild aroma.

Bintawak bead-like pulp is pretty to look at and it tastes as good as it looks but due to its thin aril,it is less popular than the terap bulu and terap.Unripe bintawak can be eaten raw and the immature pulp is less sweet but crunchy.

Just like all the fruits with the same genus of Artocarpus,its seeds are edible after boiling or roasting.


The unripe bintawak can be eaten raw.
The unripe bintawak can be eaten raw.

 All these three common terap can be found in the markets.The rest are quite rare so I will probably keep them for another post.

Left - Terap bulu tree Right - Terap tree Notice the difference in their leaves.
Left – Terap bulu tree  \Right – Terap tree  (Notice the difference in their leaves).

Most people are quite familiar with the nangka and cempedak.They look and taste alike but differ in size only.Nangka is big,may measure up to 25 x 50 cm whereas cempedak may measure up to 15 x 25 cm only.

So my dear Sarawakians and Sabahans,don’t forget you have a whole lot of goodies in your very own land.

Our fruity land,

love it ,

preserve it,

enjoy it!



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