One of the best things about being in the tropics is sampling the exotic fruits – and Fiji is no exception. While it has many of the exotic fruits found in Asia and other tropical regions, it also has some that are not common in other areas, or certain varieties that are particular to Fiji.
There are fresh produce markets at all the major cities and town of Fiji – and in most of the smaller townships too. They are full of local fruits and vegetables and you will find some – if not all – of the following fruits on your visit to these markets.
Pomelo (Moli Kana)
When I tried a pomelo for the first time I was enchanted. It seemed to me to be the ‘missing link citrus’. The flesh is much drier and it lacks the sourness that seems to be inherent in most citrus. This is because it is more bitter than sour – very similar in taste to grape fruit, but milder.
In Fiji you will normally come across the pink type of pomelo. It is known by the Fijian name: moli kana, which conveys pomelo’s characteristic as a citrus that can be eaten…rather than slurped. It is about the size of a small melon and a whole one is large enough to make a meal out of.
They are sold whole and are ripe at time of sale.
Orange Coconut (Niu Damu)
Most people only know of green coconuts, but there are also orange ones! Not as common as green coconuts, they are still to be found in the local markets. They are said to have medicinal properties and the coconut water has a slightly different flavour to green coconuts – a preferable more sweet and rich flavour in my opinion. The orange coconut is known as niu damu in the Fijian language – meaning ‘red coconut’.
Ambarella has to be one of my favourite exotic fruits in Fiji. It has a few characteristics of different fruits when unripe – similar to green mangoes – yet it is quite different in its ripened state when it becomes a wonderful mix of sweet and tart.
Known locally as wi the fruit is often sold unripe for use in pickle-making, as well as ripe. Ripe ambarellas will be somewhat yellowish, but it is best to ask the vendor whether they are mature or not. They can be eaten at any stage but will taste rather like a sour green apple when unripe. You always want to peel them or at least discard the skin while eating.
Rose Apple (Kavika)
Rose apples can be found when in season where they will be found cheaply and in abundance. They can be quite tart, and the light green and pinkly blushing ones tend to have a mild sweetness at their best, but if you can find dark pink ones they are likely to be sweeter. In Fijian they are known as kavika and come into season around November.
The soursop can be found around Asia and South and Central America as well as in the Pacific. They are a massive fruit around the size of a football. The are sweetly fragrant, and ripe when they clearly yield to the touch. The have a consistency and flesh very similar to that of custard apples, but quite a different – definitely a tart quality – and without the grainy texture of custard apples.
In Fiji they soursop – known as seremaia – grows fairly commonly, but isn’t a favourite fruit among locals and is often only used for making juices. This is unfortunate as it makes a very nice jam, and research has shown that the fruit has medicinal qualities.
Fijian Longan (Dawa)
The Fijian Longan is one of the most exotic fruit that you can try in Fiji. Known as dawa in Fijian it it is hard to find around the world but for some areas of the Pacific and Malaysia. Dawa is also not particularly common in Fiji itself, so if you come across it at the local markets be sure to grab some to try. They are similar to lychees but larger and chewier. Check out an article and picture of the Fijian longan that has been found in the forests of one of my favourite spots ever – Penang in Malaysia!
Do you love trying exotic fruits abroad? What is the most exotic fruit that you have tried? Let us know in the comments.