Do you know what these black, round babies are?
I remember snacking on these fruits called Keranji or Velvet Tamarind as a child, but now it's hard to find them sold anywhere (I bought these in Kuching). When I handed them out in my palms the kiddies in the house, their immediate reaction was to recoil like they had seen tiny aliens from Mars or something! After a bit of persuasion, they cautiously ate several and their verdicts were mixed, from "Urrgh, it tastes hairy!" (meaning velvety, I think) to "Is it normal for a Keranji to have two seeds?"
Velvet tamarind or Dialium indum, is a tall, tropical, fruit-bearing tree, native to southern Thailand and Malaysia. It belongs to the Leguminosae family, and has small, typically grape-sized edible fruits with brown hard inedible shells. Due to its valued hard and compact wood, it is a threatened species, with its habitat being encroached upon by logging and human settlement. No reports of cultivation exist, information on propagation is limited.
The flavour of the fruit is similar to tamarind, where it derives its English name.
This is what it looks like on the inside...
Lastly, no Keranji story would be complete without this classic Malay rhyme. Remember this?
Sorong papan tarik papan
Buah keranji di dalam perahu
Suruh makan engkau makan
Suruh mengaji engkau tak mahu
Those were the good old days!