Monday, October 30, 2006

Buah Keluak

This is the most amazing plant. Its fruits are so poisonous and yet they are eaten as delicacies from Southeast Asia to the Pacific islands. I am talking about Pangium edule. Locally we know the fruits of this plant as Buah Keluak whose seeds are used as the significant ingredient in the nonya dish Ayam Buah Keluak (see black cooked seeds in picture above).

We have an old tree in The Garden. It flowers and fruits regularly although sparingly. The fruits are like papayas but hard, roughly textured and brown (see picture above right - fruit surrounded by seeds).

Inside the fruit, embedded in yellow pulp are the large seeds. Each seed has a hard shell. The raw seeds taken from the fruits are highly poisonous. Native people apparently have found ways to detoxify the seeds before consuming them. One way apparently is to boil the seeds without their shells in several changes of water before leaching them in flowing streams or rivers for a few days. Another way is to boil the seeds with the shells intact and then burying the boiled seeds in ash for over 40 days. The seeds we can buy in our markets in Singapore are apparently detoxified by the latter method.

The next time you enjoy a meal of Ayam Buah Keluak, take time to marvel at this amazing plant - so poisonous yet so edible. Fascinating.


  • Thank you for this entry. Very interesting that our ancestors discovered how to prepare this poison for safe eating.

    Someone told me he had a friend who ate some of the raw pulp around the seeds. Obviously he did not know that the painful experiments had been done by suffering ancestors. It was reported to be sweetish. As a result of this indulgence his friend lost his hair. I wonder if squirrels know to avoid the fruit. They must be smart since we do not see bald squirrels around.

    By Blogger Nin Kong Poh, at 9:55 PM  

  • Please continue to tell us about interesting plants close to, especially our stomachs. Plants we normally do not know about except when encountered on our plates. Fruits are fleshy because they encourage animals to eat them so that seeds may be dispersed. But if they eat seeds how will seeds be dispersed. Maybe elephants swallow seeds whole?

    By Blogger Nin Kong Poh, at 10:10 PM  

  • Yes, do write more!

    By Blogger T Quah, at 6:47 PM  

  • hey there.... guess who? nice blog.... we need more entries though :o) haha!

    By Blogger Ryan, at 12:21 AM  

  • hehe. u might want to check out mine at haha.... i've quite a number of new entries :o)

    great that u're blogging :o)

    By Blogger Ryan, at 12:26 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:57 AM  

  • Be very careful with proper preparation of Buah Keluak (latin name:Pangium Edule) !
    It is highly toxic!

    I carelessly cooked so many of them so frequently, since I got a recipe from Singapore. I love the nut so ver much!

    Guess what, so impatient, one day I foolishly decided to cook with the shell, right from the supermarket here in Jakarta.
    I only wash and brush clean the shell, without boiling the shell with a few changes of water, nor preserve them with the ash.
    So the first boiled water was practically the soup I consumed! Highly toxic with Cyanide Acid(HCn)!

    Afterwhich I began to fall ill on and off.
    Then in less than a year, I developed into Thrombocytopenia, a condition where my RedBloodCell's Thrombocyte drop very low to 65000, only 1/3 of a healthy individual!
    My bone marrow seemed to be poisoned, that it produces little platelets.

    Damages are also to my liver, spleen and kidneys!

    Not to mention, complications of HyperTension, Diabetes, Glaucoma, LUPUS, and Blood Disorder are very likely to strike if you are living with a very low platelet counts!

    Currently, I m still tryin to bring back my health by help of TCM-TraditionalChineseMedicine.

    Had anyone had d same case?
    Please share...
    Many thanks!

    Dave Bernard

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home