"The sharp knife of a short life

I've had just enough time..."

- "If I Die Young" The Band Perry

I see Beauty in many things. And like the ghosts that only speak to you if you notice them, they tell me wondrous tales. With my camera and my thoughts, I captured these as faithfully as I can to share with you. And by doing so, they gave me the reasons. And though the thousand reasons may not all be sweet and some indeed bitter; they are still reasons to live. Come to think about it, that is Life, isn't it?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Buah Keluak – From A Poisonous Seed Into A Delicacy.

I've had just enough time...   to get used to bitter medicine

Buah Keluak before processing - poisonous (left) and after processing - safe (right)

There is a tall tree called Kepayang rising up to 60m or 180 feet in the mangrove swamp of South East Asia. It produced a large fruit called “the football fruit” as it looked and shaped like a football. Covered by a thick skin is the yellowish flesh containing large slightly flattened seeds called “Buah Keluak”. The seeds are highly poisonous and contain hydrogen cyanide. Ingested, the symptoms are general weakness, confusion, shortness of breath, dizziness and coma. High amount of ingestion can kill.

The Nyonya Ayam Buah Keluak - a flavorful dish

How did man know they can make it edible? The seeds must first be boiled, then buried in ash for as long as forty days. The modern way is alternate soaking, scrubbing and rinsing for days or even weeks after the initial boiling. The boiling and fermentation will release the water soluble hydrogen cyanide which is washed out. The seeds are used whole to produce the famous Nyonya* dish – Ayam Buah Keluak (Braised Chicken in Black Nut Curry). One can scooped out the black, creamy and oily content from the seed with a small spoon. It has a tar like appearance and consistency that has been described as having strong mushroom or truffle taste. In Indonesia, the kernels are grounded to make a thick gravy called rawon to produce a distinctive beef or chicken stew. Who would have thought that they can make this highly poisonous seeds safe for consumption? And to even make delicacies out of them?

Scooping out the 'opium' or black tar out from the seed

As I recalled the taste of the Buah Keluak, I reflected on my bitterness and how to turn it into a winning recipe of living. And how not to stay a poisonous seed toxic to others.

The little restaurant in Malacca where I had the black curry dish


  1. I have never heard of this food before. I wonder how it tastes. What do you think? Can I buy this in the Netherlands?

    Many greetings from the Netherlands,


  2. ineedathis, bjebie, Yasmin de light, and 1 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    Looks very interesting, and from your post I see it looks delicious as well.

    Andrew 62
    fascinating! I display at least three of the symptoms most of the time

    Rebecca Ang
    I love buah keluak - I can do without the ayam... but the buah keluak, ah :)
    You observe your surroundings carefully and take time to reflect and share these insights that I enjoy. In our busy lives, it's so easy (and tempting) to just pass these things by, yet you pause and glean these lessons. There can be events in our lives that threaten to choke us with confusion, dizziness, shortness of breath, but may we find strength to turn these poisonous ingredients into something beautiful to bless others with.

    Wow, you really have to trust whoever cooks it for you!

    Yasmin de light
    Fascinating my friend. Seems like a large version of apple or cherry seed which I understand also contains cyanide but in much smaller amount. Wishing you a happy week/weekend : )

    They sure look exotic and powerful I like the info it really tells a wonderful story ;)

    That's interesting, cool tree, nice photo and info Thou!


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