One of the most popular fruit products in Malaysia is dates. The best types of dates in the market are raw, unprocessed, un-heated ones, which are usually sweeter in taste than those that are already cooked or pickled. Dried or salted ones are also more preferred by many. For example, the variety of ‘balai’ dates available now includes dried or smoked mung beans, grains of paradise, millet, raw sugar cane, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Dried fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, and papayas rank among the top choices of consumers. Some of the finest and juiciest types of fresh fruits in Malaysia can be found here. In fact, the best quality pineapples come from Penang. They are covered with a light caramel-like caramelized sugar coating after being peeled. They are then deep-fried, and often coated with fried chilli or chili paste.
Like pineapples, papayas are sweeter than other kinds of fruits, but they are still very popular due to their rich, thick flavor. They come in different colors, such as tan, brown, or golden yellow, and are the perfect size for eating as snacks. They are relatively easy to chew, and can be mixed with a simple pinch of salt for a unique flavor. They can be dipped into different kinds of preserves, such as ketchup or mayonnaise, to make them even more delicious. Some of the best-known brand names of papayas include San Lorenzo, Lopez, and Orovo.
Dessert dates, also known as maltese dates or gunung, have a rich creamy flavor. They come from Southern Malaysia, and are used as a popular breakfast food by most locals and tourists alike. Due to their length and firm texture, they are often used in a dessert sauce such as pitong or salam masala. Other popular dessert date varieties include rasin, lebong, and bunga.
Drying fruits, especially the sweet ones, can be an art in itself. The process of turning them into hard and soft products takes a lot of knowledge, patience, and experience. Most local manufacturers will not leave their products on the drying rack for too long, which is why they are called “burn-able” or “rip-off-able.” The right technique is to dry the fruit inside out, by gently removing any air bubbles that may form.