Halal Consumer - Issue 30 - page 9

Ackee is a sweet, tropical fruit native to Caribbean coun-
tries often cooked in savory meals such as Jamaica’s
national dish of ackee and saltfish. It contains a good
source of niacin, vitamin C, and essential fatty acids.
While unripe and hanging on a tree, ackee appears to
be harmless, shaped similarly to a bell pepper, and looks
delightful with its bright red skin. Once the fruit is ripe
and ready to eat, the skin splits open and inside emerges
three large, ovular black seeds nested on the yellow meat
of the fruit.
Ackee has the ability to defend itself from harm and
being eaten before maturation. Unripe ackee contains
the toxin hypoglycin, which lowers the blood sugar to
dangerous levels causing serious illness in those who
eat it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned
the import of the fruit to the United States for about
thirty years because of the risk of poison. The ban has
since been lifted, and canned ackee is accepted from
only FDA approved companies. It is, however, still ille-
gal to import, sell, or commercially serve fresh ackee
grown outside or within the United States; canned ackee
is available online or at certain Caribbean markets and
restaurants. If you are adventurous and want something
sweet with a thick, creamy texture, give ackee a try.
Sometimes known as pitaya, dragonfruit grows from
cacti and is native to Central and South America. The
fruit is extremely popular in Asian societies, who have
popularized it. Its skin is a very charming shade of pur-
ple while the inside is a shade of white with many tiny
black seeds. It should be eaten raw for the best taste.
Dragonfruit is also grown in warm United States cli-
mates—Hawaii, California, and Florida. It can be found
in farmers markets or Asian markets within the United
States. Dragonfruit is often compared to kiwi in terms of
texture and taste.
Abdul Rahman Taha, who lives in Dubai, UAE, enjoys
dragonfruit stating that it is a “sweeter and less sour ver-
sion of kiwi.” Esmat Rabi, also from Dubai, disagrees. She
was disappointed with the fruit, expressing that it tasted
bland and is a “flavorless version of kiwi.” Sana Ahmed in
Chicago, Illinois, tasted dragonfruit in Saudi Arabia and
said that it was sweet and had an “interesting
gel-like texture.” Victoria Deldin from Chicagoland, whose
Instagram feed shows many meals and desserts incorpo-
rating dragonfruit, eats the purple fruit often. She says, “I
love the texture and I like that it’s not overly sweet.”
Dragonfruit is one of the more easily accessible exotic
fruits in the States. It is available at Asian and Asian-
inspired supermarkets. Because dragonfruit is high in
vitamin C and also contains some iron, Zaira Ahmad, a
registered dietician in New Jersey, says, “Because iron is
better absorbed in the presence of vitamin C, it [dragon-
fruit] may be helpful for those with iron deficiencies.”
Known in Malaysia as “The King of All Fruits,” durian
is a large, thorny green fruit with yellow flesh native
to Southeast Asian countries. It is notable for its pun-
gent odor, which is so strong and putrid that various
establishments in Malaysia and other countries have
signs banning the fruit, lest its stench permeate into its
Ahmed heard many stories of this curious fruit from her
father, who greatly enjoys it. While in Malaysia, her
father purchased a durian fruit for his family to taste,
but Ahmed did not try it, and her mother was sick from
the smell. Ahmed gave the fruit another chance while in
Saudi Arabia years later and neither liked nor disliked it.
She described the flesh of the fruit as “creamy and thick”
and says she would try it again because she finds it so
“intriguing;” however, “the scent is really a big turnoff.”
As the fruit is opened, durian’s odor becomes even stron-
ger. For those who are able to separate their senses of
smell and taste, durian doesn’t taste as it smells, confirms
Ahmed and others who enjoy the fruit.
There are different types of durian, but it generally has no
cholesterol, many antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin C, and
is high in fiber. Fresh durian can be purchased at various
Asian supermarkets, particularly in Chinatown neighbor-
hoods of large cities like New York City. Durian juices may
also be offered at various Asian restaurants throughout the
States. It is clear that those who can get passed the smell
of durian truly love the fruit. Plug up your nose and give it
a try!
Fall 2014
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