Bornean Plants: Engkalak

This is the first plant food I am writing about as part of my “Bornean Plants” series. The goal is to try as many jungle/local/wild fruit/plants as I can (hampered slightly by the fact that my plans to go to Bario this summer fell through).

Buah Engkalak (Listea garciae)


This is a soft fruit which looks a bit like a pink acorn. It has many local names, including engkalak, ponglaban, kalangkala, madang and ta’ang. It is native to Borneo and the Philippines, cultivated in Bangka & Java, and has been reported from Taiwan (Lim, 2012).

Engkalak is supposedly related to avocado, and is sometimes colloquially known as the “butter fruit”. It has a similar texture to avocado but a slightly different taste.

I forgot to snap a picture of this at the market, but a basket of about 20-22 fruit would cost RM5.00 at the Sibu Central Market.

It can be eaten raw, but must be “processed”, much in the way that dabai is.

Preparing engkalak

The first step is to run them under warm water. Then, remove the “caps” of the fruit. This requires minimal effort as these aren’t really properly attached to the fruit. You should get something like this:IMG_4850

The next step is to whack them gently with a spoon or any other suitable implement. This is best described as low-energy tenderising. I suppose you could alternatively just roll them about in your hands.

Add salt to taste:


And then shake the fruit about vigorously:

As you can see I didn’t do this myself.

I’m assuming this helps to distribute the salt and acts as a secondary whacking mechanism.

Leave it to stand for a bit (I’m not sure if this is actually necessary but it probably gives time for the salt to sink in).

Before eating the fruit, pop the seed out. It comes out really easily as this video will show you:



Engkalak with seed
Engkalak sans-seed








Some people eat this with rice, but in true Melanau fashion I eat it with sago. (My godmother insists it tastes better this way).

Here I’ve filled the fruit with sago.

Reading: (in Indonesian)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s