31 August, 2009

Bintulu Canon Ball Fruits

I call this fruit the 'canon ball'. It's one of my favourite seasonal fruits of Sarawak. There is one tree that is fruit bearing now at my farm. But more about the tree later. The fruit when ripe exudes an aroma that can make one dreams of the Arabian nights. Its flesh is fibrous but better quality ones are sweet and less fibrous. I love to eat them freshly sliced ( see inset). About two months ago I took a picture of the tree when it was just starting to bear tiny fruits. Today I find the fruits have grown quite big ( about half a kilo in weight) but not ripe yet. This canon ball fruit is called "Bambangan or Asam Embang"in Malay while the Ibans call it " Mawang". In Bintulu, the local Melanaus here call it " Balem". The "Balem Tree" ( Mangifera pajang") can grow to a height of 35 meters high and the one at the farm now is slightly more than 25 meters high.

The "Balem" tree is tall and upright . In case there is heavy rain or strong wind you are advised not to walk underneath the tree or you will get knocked off with a Life Achievement Prize of the Day on the head!!!Some Balem fruits can weigh two kilos.

Close Up of the Balem fruit

Picture taken in June. Thus the balem fruiting season in Bintulu is between the months of June-September

A ripe Balem fruit. Notice the fibrous flesh and thick skin . Its thick skin enables it to be kept for longer periods.
An unripe fruit cut into two to show the thick flesh as well as the big sized seed at the core.
Locals here cut the unripe flesh into small pieces and take them as salad with the ever popular local shrimp paste called "Belacan".


  1. i can almost feel the sourness of that balem!.. :)

  2. Take a plane and go to Bintulu. You'll enjoy it.


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