Thai durian_fruit

Thai durian: the tree, the fruit, and the desserts

Durian – who doesn’t know this fruit? This is “the king of fruit”! But to some people, it’s simply “the smelliest fruit in the world”. Durian is commonly available in Southeast Asian countries.  In the previous article, we have introduced durian as a seasonal, exotic Thai fruit. Now we will go deeper into Thai durian, including durian tree, the fruit, species as well as how durian can be processed into snacks and incorporated into desserts. 

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Durian tree

Thai durian_durian tree

Durian trees tend to grow big. Depending on the species and environment, the tree may be as short as 10m or as tall as 50m. It does take time to grow durian trees. The earliest harvest would be at around 4-5 years – however the durian tree lifespan is very long as durian trees tend to last 10+ years. We have also seen news of durian tree lifespan of 100 years or longer.

The Durian tree will bear fruit every year, however as a seasonal fruit, the tree will only bear fruit once or at most twice a year. It could take up to 3-4 months between the tree bearing flower and fruits being ready to harvest, but one tree usually bears many fruits per harvest season.

Durian fruit and the Thai durian species

Thai fruits_durian

Durian fruit is characterized by its green spiky shell. The fruit itself is quite large and typically weighs anywhere between 1 to 3 kg depending on the species. The edible part of durian fruit is yellow in colour, it has a deep sweet creamy taste with a hint of bitterness when not fully ripe. The fruit has a strong smell, some would describe it as fragrant while others would describe it as stinky!

While the smell of durian is concentrated around its yellow produce, you can smell fully ripe durian even before you peel its green spiky shell. 

There are many species of Thai durian, however the 2 most famous species are:

  • Monthong durian: Monthong means “golden pillow” in Thai. Monthong durian is known to be largest among Thai durian species so they are suited for people who love sweet, meaty durian
  • Gaan Yao durian: Gaan Yao means “long stem” in Thai – and this perfectly describes the Gaan Yao durians as they tend to be smaller in size but attached to the tree by long stems. While Gaan Yao durian is smaller and less meaty – the fruits are richer in taste and are more fragrant

You can read more about Thai durian at Michelin guide.

How to enjoy Thai durian

Unlike other tropical Thai fruits like mangosteen or rambutan, durian has hard, thick skin. Hence, the best way to enjoy fresh durian is to purchase peeled durian, commonly found in packages at fruit stalls or supermarkets. However, if you have purchased a whole durian, you will need to peel the green spiky shell out first (hard glove and knife are recommended here) – from there you will find durian produce hidden in many “packets” within the shell. We have put together some photos of this process after purchasing a whole durian just last week. As you enjoy the durian fruit, the last thing to keep in mind is that durian has seeds within them so be mindful as you bite through those yellow meat (the seed is really bitter)!

Thai durian_how to eat

Durian snacks and desserts

Our top picks include:

  • Thai durian chips: fried sliced durian into chips! On the surface they look like a more yellow version of potato chips but the Thai durian chips are sweet and slightly salty! Turning fresh durian into chips will let you keep durian for a longer period, and at the same time, reduce the smell as well
  • Durian sticky rice: while durian sticky rice is not as common and as famous as mango sticky rice, this dessert is delicious! Durian sticky rice is made up of sticky rice, a lot of coconut milk and ripe durian
  • Thai durian ice cream: this is one of the more modern and highly commercialized product in Thailand during durian season. It basically is ice-cream with rich durian flavor, and sometimes texture

You can now order durian chips online from Thailand Post Mart and have them delivered directly to your home!

Thai durian_Durian sticky rice

Step-by-step guide by pictures on how to make durian sticky rice.

Durian: it's a love OR hate relationship

You either love or hate durian, we have yet to find someone who falls in the middle or is neutral. While the fruit shape and appearance may look intimidating, durian is naturally sweet and “fragrant” (haters will disagree and say it’s “smelly”).

The one that we talked a lot about in this post is Thai durian. Apart from Thai durian, there are other famous variants like Mao Shan Wang durian (usually coming from Malaysia). The taste and texture of the flesh might be different from the Thai durians. 

Have you ever tried Thai durian before? (and they are not to be confused with jackfruits!) If not, we strongly suggest you at least give it a try when you are next in Thailand. And if you’ve tried it before, how do you like the durian? 

Visit our other blog posts for more info on Thailand:

Thai fruits_assorted

Thai fruits: names, fruit types and their seasonality

When it comes to Thailand, you might think about slurping your coconut by the beach, enjoying your mango sticky rice or eating sweet guava snacks by the road. Who doesn’t love the juicy and yummy tropical fruits of Thailand? Personally, we love Thai herbs and fruits, in fact – Thai fruits alone would be a strong enough reason for us to be in love with Thailand. In this article, we will be introducing delicious Thai fruits as well as those that may be less common in other parts of the world.

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Our pick: Thai fruits names with pictures

Let’s start with the more exotic/tropical fruits that may be less common in other parts of the world.

Durian ("ทุเรียน")

Thai fruits_durian

The king of fruits, durians are characterised by their hard green spiky skin with yellow produce inside. Durian is also known as the smelliest fruit in the world! It is a love or hate relationship with this fruit. However, many people have grown to love the taste (and the smell) of this fruit.

Mangosteen ("มังคุด")

Thai fruits_mangosteen

The queen of fruits, mangosteens are purple in color, however, its edible parts are white in color and are well hidden behind the purple shell (watch out for mangosteen seeds behind those white meat!). People use the mangosteen inner skin as an ingredient for healthy drinks as it has high antioxidant content.

Rambutan ("เงาะ")

Thai fruits_rambutan

Our favourite fruit (only 2nd to Durian), Rambutan’s skin is mostly red in color, however, the fruits are covered in “hairs” which are either green or red in color. The edible part of Rambutan are white in color. The taste of rambutan is very interesting – sweet and yet it has a hint of sourness to it that makes it refreshing!

Longkong ("ลองกอง")

Longkong fruits are almost round, but not quite perfectly round. They kind of remind us of mini-potatoes. Longkong’s skins are light brown in color, while the actual edible part is white. Unlike Durian, Mangosteen and Rambutan – You can easily peel Longkong using your hands, however, Longkong has sap under its skin so your hands will get sticky after eating this fruit. It will also leave stain on your cloth so be careful with your garments!

Longan ("ลำไย")

Thai fruits_longan

Longan has brown color but the edible part is in white color. The shape of this fruit is round. Compared to other fruits on our list, Longan is by far the easiest to eat by hand. You often see dried longan used in iced longan drinks in eateries in Thailand! 

Other exotic Thai fruits

While there are still many other exotic fruits in Thailand, we will stop our detailed list here otherwise this article will become too long!

Just to name a few more:

  1.  Sweet yellow marian plum (“มะยงชิด”)
  2. Manila tamarind (“มะขามเทศ”)
  3. Tamarind (“มะขาม”)
  4. Salak/Snake fruit (“สละ”)
  5. Sapodilla (“ละมุด”) 

Other Thai fruits which are also commonly found in other parts of the world

Many of Thai fruits are also commonly found in other parts (especially tropical regions of the world). You can expect to find a lot of bananas, guavas, oranges, coconuts and mangos in Thailand.

Thai mangoes in particular are famous for their sweet taste and their use in the world famous dessert, mango sticky rice.

Thai coconuts, specially the Nam Hom coconuts have flagrant coconut water which is quite hard to beat (we may be a little bias as owners of a Thai coconut farm but we have also sampled coconuts from other parts of Asia!). Also check out roasted coconuts if you are a coconut lover!

Thai fruits season chart

If you are in Thailand, you will be able to eat fresh fruits all year round! However some fruits may only be available during certain months, while some others may be available all year round (but taste best / abundant during certain months only).

Fruits like durian, mangosteen, rambutan, longkong and longan are highly seasonable and would only be available in summer and rainy seasons. Other fruits like mangoes, coconuts, papayas, pineapples, oranges etc. are available all year round. However there are a few things to note:

  • Some fruits could be available all year round, but availability and taste may vary throughout the year. For example, Nam Dok Mai mangoes, also the most famous type of Thai mangoes, are more available from March to May according to Michellin Thailand guide 
  • Some fruits also grow best in certain conditions. The easiest to explain would be coconuts. Coconuts in Thailand are mostly grown along coastal areas of Thailand so you will find fresher/cheaper coconuts in Southern Thailand than in Northern Thailand

When is the best time to visit Thailand for its fruits?

If you are looking to try Thailand’s seasonal fruits then summer is a good time to visit Thailand. However, take note that Thailand will be in rainy season between May and mid-October so the weather will be hot and humid. You will also need to prepare accordingly if you are planning to do outdoor activities while you are in Thailand.

Check out our other articles about when is best to travel to Thailand:

So, how should you plan your trip to enjoy Thai fruits?

As a tropical country with agriculture as its key sector, Thailand can supply its residents and visitors with fresh fruits all year round. 

Many seasonal and exotic fruits are available during summer and rainy seasons. If you have an eye on a particular fruit(s), be sure to check out the seasonality table and time your visit accordingly. This is to make sure you come to Thailand when the fruits are the most abundant and taste the best.

However, even if you are not visiting Thailand to try out its fruits – be sure to get a taste of Thai fruits!

Learn more about Thailand from our other posts:

Kaffir lime_tom yum

Kaffir lime: the tree and usage as Thai ingredients

In the previous article, we have discussed Thai herbs in general. In this post, we would deep-dive into kaffir lime, which is often used in Thai food. Let’s find out more about kaffir lime as a herb and cooking ingredient, a common recipe that uses this herb, and also the tree!

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Getting to know Thai kaffir lime tree

Kaffir lime is a native plant in Southeast Asia, and many parts of the plant can be found in both cooking and traditional Thai cuisine. 

If you have seen or grown a lime tree, you must be able to easily visualize the Thai kaffir lime tree because the trees share some similarities. Two stark differences, which are also unique features of kaffir limes, are, 1) uniquely shaped leaf that looks like there are two leaves attached together 2) dark green fruits with rough/bumpy surfaces.

The trees can grow up to 4-5 meters tall and you can harvest them regularly for many years. The tree will start to produce edible leaves after 6 months and will bear fruits after 1-2 years. You can find kaffir lime growing in the yards of many Thai households.

Kaffir lime as Thai ingredients

Unlike regular lime, the fruits do not produce plenty of juice and the juice isn’t widely used outside of herbal & traditional medicine applications. The parts that Thai people commonly use as Thai ingredients are 1) the fresh leaves and 2) the fruit’s skin. 

You can use the fresh leaves as a whole or cut-up for cooking purposes. People often use whole leaves when cooking soups (including tom yum soup!). On the other hand, they often use cut-up leaves to add fragrance to dry curry or stir fry dishes. 

The fruit’s skin is a common ingredient (among many other spices) within many Thai curry pastes (including Thai green curry).

Kaffir lime_fruit

Simple cooking recipe using the herb

kaffir lime_leaf

If you come across some kaffir lime leaves and want to try cooking with them, here is a very simple recipe you can try cooking with.

We are amateurs when it comes to cooking, so as long as you can gather these ingredients, you will be able to cook this dish too!

Here is a recipe for a simplified clear broth tom yum

  • Herbs: kaffir lime leaves (3-5 whole leaves), lemongrass (1 stick), and few slices of galangal
  • Ingredients: fresh shrimps, mushrooms, water
  • Seasoning: chili (~3-5) , lime (2 whole fruits for the juice), sugar (1 tablespoon), and fish sauce (2 tablespoons)

Depending on where you live, sometimes you will find all the herbs available as a bundle in supermarkets or shops in Thai towns as well. 

  1. Peel and clean shrimps as well as other ingredients and herbs
  2. Boil water and add all the herbs for a few minutes to bring out their fragrance and flavor
  3. Add mushrooms and seasonings (all seasoning except lime juice)
  4. Add shrimps and wait until the shrimp is cooked (do not wait too long otherwise, the shrimp will be overcooked)
  5. Turn off the heat, add lime juice and finetune the flavor by adding fish sauce or sugar

Should you use kaffir lime in your cooking?

Kaffir lime may not be a commonly known herb and ingredient, but it is full of health benefits as well as fragrance/flavor. When added to a dish, it can be a total gamechanger. The fragrance of this herb is very refreshing and appetizing! 

If you are thinking of using this herb often in your dishes, you might want to consider growing your own tree. The process might be a long one, but once grown – you will be able to harvest its leaves and fruits regularly for many years. You will be self-sufficient and also can save money!

Learn more about Thailand from our other posts

Thai basil_kra phrao dish

Thai basil: the plant, simple recipes to try and the alternative

In our previous article, we talked about common Thai herbs and how they are full of health benefits (on top of making your food extra delicious). Now we want to dive right into one of our favorites, Thai basil. And we will talk more about the plant, simple staple dishes you can make with this herb, and the potential alternatives if you can not procure Thai basil.

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Thai basil_featured

Thai basil plant and variety

As a disclaimer, we are no gardening experts – but we do have Thai basil growing at home, and we do enjoy cooking with them. 

After doing some reading on basil (thanks to the Culinary Compass), we mostly find Thai basil and holy basil (aka Tulsi) in Thailand. The two variations look slightly different, but in general, Thai basil plant is a perennial plant that grows to a maximum about your knee height. The plant can last for several years, and if you keep them in the garden, they could multiply or grow into a small bush. You can continuously harvest basil leaves all year round. The tree will grow new branches and then leaves after each harvest. If you have multiple pots of Thai basil plants, you can rotate your harvest and enjoy fresh herbs almost on a weekly basis.

Thai basil_basil plant

We regularly harvest basil from our backyard for cooking.

Simple recipes you should try at home

The two menus we want to touch on today are both our favourites. We have them often either at home or ordering them outside. 

The two menus are 1) Thai basil pork and 2) Thai drunken noodle. You will find them in any Thai restaurant, and if you are visiting Thailand, you will find them everywhere. In Thailand, these are not only available in restaurants, but they are also even available at street food stalls.

There are different variations and recipes of these 2 menus, you will be able to find them on the internet. However, given we are both amateurs, we made a simplified version of the recipe.

Thai basil pork or “kra phrao” in Thai

  • Herbs: Thai basil leaves, garlic, fresh chili
  • Ingredients: rice, minced pork, oil, fish sauce, and oyster sauce


  1. Clean your herbs then chop up your garlic and chili
  2. Heat up the pan with oil. Once heated, add chopped garlic and chill
  3. Add in minced pork. Once the pork is half cooked, add a little bit of oyster sauce and fish sauce (be careful not to add too much, both of these are very salty)
  4. Once the pork is cooked, add fresh basil leaves. Stir your dish well and your Thai basil pork is ready!

Pro Tip #1: this dish is best to serve with white rice and fried egg, a magical combination

Pro Tip #2: you can replace minced pork in this menu with many other meat types. Thai people commonly replace minced pork with beef, chicken, crispy pork, prawn, squid … the list goes on and it gets crazier by the year (now we also see bacon, pork knuckle, duck, etc.)

Thai basil_kra phrao

Home made sliced pork kra phrao with fried egg.

Thai drunken noodle or “pad ki mao” in Thai

  • Herbs: Thai basil leaves, garlic, fresh chili (with options to add fresh peppercorn and kaffir lime leaves – but we usually keep it very simple)
  • Ingredients: your choice of noodle (instant noodle also works!), chicken, your choice of vegetables, oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar
    • For vegetables, you can consider baby corn, carrot, and Chinese kale (or you can make the dish without any vegetable as well)


  1. Heat up the pan with oil. Once heated, add chopped garlic, and chili
  2. Add in chicken. Once the chicken is half cooked, add a little bit of oyster sauce and fish sauce. Further season the dish with sugar. About half a tablespoon each is usually fine
  3. Add in your vegetables (if you choose to also add fresh peppercorn and kaffir lime leaves, then add them too)
  4. Once your chicken and vegetables are cooked, add in basil leaves, stir the dish well, then your drunken noodle is ready!

Pro Tip: similar to the previous dish, you can change the chicken here for other substitutes such as sliced pork or seafood

At this point, some of you might be thinking – these 2 menus are almost identical? For simple cooking (and for amateurs like ourselves), they are almost identical because we have made the recipes simpler. Nonetheless, these simple dishes are easy to make and they taste great!

Thai basil_drunken noodle 2

Home made seafood pad ki mao.

Alternative for this key herb

If you are not living in Thailand and cannot find either Thai basil or holy basil – you can still make Thai dishes using their alternatives. For example, in Singapore, we often find sweet basil instead of Thai basil in supermarkets. Sweet basil is different from Thai basil as it is less intense.

While the smell could be slightly different, basil alternatives still offer the fragrance needed for a great Thai dish! You can compensate for the difference by tweaking your recipe. For example, sweet basil is less intense than Thai basil so you need to use 1.5x of the basil amount when using sweet basil. 

So, how can you incorporate Thai basil in your cooking?

As mentioned before, Thai basil (and basil in general) are full of health benefits. Moreover, they are also easy to grow in your backyard, and you can harvest them all year round. With such accessibility to basils, you can easily incorporate them into your cooking and make them more fragrant, more delicious, and healthier!

There are many recipes where you can incorporate this herb and we have shared two simple ones that we often use at home. Although the recipes might be simple, by incorporating basils and other herbs you can make such a simple dish taste delicious. Go ahead and give it a try! Customize your own versions of the recipes as well and share them with us! 

Explore more about Thailand through our other posts:

Thai herbs_mix herb

Thai herbs and their health benefits

Do you remember going into a Thai restaurant and smell a plethora of herbal scents in their air, tantalizing your taste buds? Thailand is famous for its herbs/fruits and their usage in Thai cuisine, traditional medicine and spas/massage. Some of these herbs may not be available in other Asian countries and, not to mention, the Western countries. In this article, we will be introducing the most common Thai herbs and their benefits to you.

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Commonly used Thai herbs

The most common Thai herbs (especially if you aren’t in Thailand) would be those you see in Thai dishes. 

  • Lemon grass, galangal and kaffir lime: have you ever had tom yum? While this dish needs no further introduction, these herbs, together with lime and chili are the secret behind tom yum fragrance and flavorful taste! 
  • Basil leaf: you may not be very familiar with the name “kra phrao”, but almost every Thai restaurant would offer minced pork/chicken/beef stir fried with basil leaves (usually serve with fried egg). Ring a bell yet? “kra phrao” is basil in Thai language
  • Ginger: while ginger is not found in the most famous thai dishes, locals make frequent user of ginger in their stir fry, soup and steam dishes

As you can see, Thai make good use of their herbs in cooking. There are also other healthy ingredients in Thai food like celery, pepper, shallots and garlic. However, they are widely available globally so we will not be focusing on them here. 

We will explore the health benefits of these commonly found one in the next section. 

Thai herb health benefits

Thai herbs_lemon grass ginger galangal(1)

Ginger (1)

Ginger contains gingerol which has medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.  It is also known to help with reducing nausea, especially that related to morning sickness. Although considered safe, if you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before taking a large amount of ginger. Other than that, ginger can help with lowering blood sugars, improving heart health, treating chronic indigestion, and also reducing joint pain and stiffness

Kaffir Lime (2)

Kaffir lime and the different parts of the plant have a lot of health benefits. The rind and the leaves can be used to improve oral health by rubbing the leaves on the gum. The oil can be mixed with dental care products to make more potent oral and gum care products. The oil is known to help with blood-related illnesses. Kaffir lime is anti-inflammatory in nature and can help with any constipation or indigestion. The smell of kaffir lime is quite unique and very relaxing, therefore a lot of spas use its oil for aromatherapy given its relaxing effect

Lemongrass (3)

Lemongrass is the dominant scent that you smell in Tom Yum. You can judge from the name, this herb has a citrusy fragrance. Not only in cooking, ancient Chinese medicine also uses lemongrass as one of its key ingredients. It has antiseptic, anti-cancer, and anti-bacterial properties. It helps with detox, weight loss, and maintaining healthy pancreas functions which are important for diabetes prevention or management

Galangal (4)

Galangal is rich in antioxidants and it can protect us against mental decline, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It has an active compound called galangin, which is known to work against cancer cells and can prevent them from spreading. Other health benefits include boosting male fertility, fighting inflammation, infections, and pain. However, please do more research on these as not all of them have been formally proven

Thai herbs_basil (5)

Basil leaf (5)

Just like any other Thai herbs that we’ve discussed, basil leaves also contain a lot of antioxidants. These antioxidants help to fight free radicals in the body. Health benefits from having these antioxidants are protective against cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. It also has compounds that can help to alleviate anxiety and depression, as well as improve memory. Other than that, basil leaves can reduce inflammation and protect us against infections

Where can you buy Thai herbs?

If you are in Thailand, you can find them in any market, supermarket or your neighbor’s backyards! Many of these like basil and lemongrass are easy to grow. Hence, you can also consider growing your own.

Actually during this lockdown period, a lot of people in Thailand do more gardening and they plant Thai herbs. Not only that it is cheaper compared to buying the market, but also it is safer for them to stay at home rather than going to the market.

If you are not in Thailand then check out your supermarket, but you will most likely find these in shops within Thai communities. For example, there are many “Thai towns” overseas like Thai town in East Hollywood, LA, or Kowloon City in Hong Kong.

Alternatively, you can also check online grocery platforms in your region (example). But it would still be cheaper to find these herbs in Thai community shops. 

There are many shops run by Thai people in Kowloon City, also known as “Little Thailand” in Hong Kong.

Are Thai herbs really healthy?

Indeed! Not only that they make Thai food very fragrant and delicious, but they also make them healthier. 

In most of the common Thai herbs we discussed, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial are the common health properties. Therefore, incorporating these herbs into your food is always a good idea. 

However, you always need to check with your health consultant if any of these herbs are not suitable for your health conditions.

Learn more about Thailand from our posts: