The Delicious & Exotic Buah Engkala

The Ibans, the biggest ethnic in Sarawak, have a lot of unique delicacies made or taken fresh from the jungle. Some of those are now planted in their backyard especially by those in living in the rural areas. One of the unique fruits that have been a delicious food eaten by the Ibans traditionally is the “buah Engkala” or Engkala fruit.

Not only the Ibans eat this fruit, some other people from many other races love it too, such as the Chinese, the Sarawakian Malay and the Bidayuh.

This Engkala is considered as an exotic fruit in Sarawak. Traditionally it was eaten as “snacks” in between meals or eaten with rice. Some even regards it as one of their vegetarian foods in their vegetarian diets.

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Engkala is also known as “butter fruit” by some. It comes from a tree that was believed to be found decades or maybe century ago. Originally, it was found in the wild before it was cultivated and planted in many Iban’s villages across the State of Sarawak. It has since then become one of the traditional food until now in most Iban community here.



It is not that well known to other people and not many people can take it because of its texture. The fruit, by nature is a bit hard but the flesh inside is soft. Although nowadays, most probably many have tried it especially the Sarawakians.

The color of the fruit is all green but the ripe fruit is red or pinkish while its flesh is white or/and a bit greenish. The seed is big and cannot be eaten. You can only eat the fruit when it is ripe. Eating the green ones can cause irritation to the mouth and throat as well as causing stomach ache, as told by the elders.

The way of preparing it is quite unique. It cannot be eaten directly after plucking it from the tree although it can be eaten raw. It is believed that the white sap from the fruit can cause irritation or itchiness. The fruit need to be wash thoroughly first. Then it need to be beaten or tap it gently with the back of a spoon or something such as the wooden spatula until it become very soft and the flesh is a bit mushy.

Only after that you can eat it with a bit of salt. It can also be soaked in a warm water for few minutes and then add a little bit of salt to the water. Leave it for a few more minutes before eating it. This is to give it a little bit of flavor and for those who doesn’t want to eat it fully raw.



This Engkala fruit taste almost like avocado but the flesh is different in terms of texture. They belong in the same family, scientifically, so they taste almost the same. The difference is, this Engkala doesn’t have rich taste like avocado.

The texture is soft and a bit mushy. It’s almost like durian flesh but without the smell. This fruit doesn’t have any distinct smell. But because of its texture, those who never try it before, will find it’s hard to take it in.

You can have it without taking the skin off but some prefer to eat only its flesh and not the skin.

Naturally it doesn’t have much taste and almost tasteless. It have a bit of that plant-greeny taste to it. You can also have it with soy sauce but the most common way is to have it with a little bit of salt.



In some wet market in Sarawak, you can find some sellers selling it. The price vary, it can cost about RM5 to RM10 per pack. We are not so sure if this fruit is seasonal. From our experience, it is normally available abundantly towards the end of the year.

If you are interested or just curious to try this Engkala fruit, look for it in the wet market if you are in Sarawak. Just make sure you wash and tap or beat it gently first before you eat it.

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