Binjai & Belunu

Binjai OR Belunu?

You know what? I could never tell the difference between the two if they flew and burst into my face!! I know one’s supposed to be sour and good for pickling only to be re-incarnated into future ambuyat sauces; and the other’s supposed to be sweet and best eaten immediately.

Meet Jay Leno.

I’ve not asked my mum prior to writing this post, because she’s told me so many times which one’s which, you get too embarrassed to ask again. But I do believe the binjai is bigger and brown, while the belunu is smaller and has a greener peel with brown patches – no, wait, that’s my auntie Yot’s hyperpigmented cheeks (not sure why she looks green sometimes).

It doesn’t help either that in my language there’s another name for one of them, “Benyu”. This may be trivial to many of you out there, but for an online-certified dyslexic and a borderline ADHD person like me, this is a challenge.

The Binjai/ Belunu reminds me of a set of identical twins who were in my Ugama class when I was little. Not that they looked like Binjai or Belunu (although I do know a few lantern-jawed friends who we used to call “scooter” or “binjai” or “Celine Dion”, but let’s not get into that here). These twins were identical – equally shirt-hanger-looking especially as they both wore huge Tudong planet that flapped in the wind much like the loose turkey underchin waddle of my primary school English teacher whenever she turned to scream familiar yet undeserved abuse at us (and we still had to stand up and say “Thank you, teacher!” after each class. ahh… naivite and innocence.) – I couldn’t bloody tell them apart even if my life depended on it! In fact, I still bloody can’t!!

I bumped into one of them again recently after sooo many years… and I could only manage a “Hi…apa abarnya eh..??” investing all my energy into avoiding mentioning either of their uniquely unforgettable names, “Yapoi” and “Yanggeh” (how’s that for some kampung-chic eh?), for fear of being slapped by their twig-like hand across my face. I’ve been told being hit in the face with a twig is more painful than being struck by a thick wooden plank. My childhood friend, Yajam, once managed to corner me during a war game and snatch my toy gun as he turned around to dash away only to ram his jerawat-infested face into a wooden palang that was conveniently low-hanging. He told me it was painful. I think I peed in shorts just laughing at the fallen soldier. I really do hope he’s not joined the army. I still don’t know about this incident with the twig though, although I suspect it has to do with him and my late Nini Yah’s disappearing chickens. But anyway, yeah, I didn’t want to call Yapoi “Yanggeh”, or vice-versa, although I really wouldn’t understand it if they took offence. They’re identical twins for God’s sake!

The Binjai-Belunu Roulette

With the fruit you see in here then, when it’s cut and served like that, I’m always hoping it’s the sweet one that I’m about to put into my mouth. But so many times, I end up with that evil sour one!


6 responses

  1. “…lantern-jawed friends who we used to call “scooter” or “binjai” or “Celine Dion…” hahaha
    Anyway, yes I agree with you. I’ll never know how to differentiate these two. Then I googled it, rupanya sama saja. French cakap “Binjai” ah. Suprising!

  2. Wow, thanks for the education. But I have serious doubts if the French actually have this fruit in France itself. They probably came across it in one of their former colonies, and the name’s been adopted, just like when we call an apple “epal” or “ipol”. I actually know of a French (?), but expat anyway, who loved the jackfruit so much, they call their daughter “Nangka”. Let’s wish her daughter well.

    • Seriously? Like real name?
      Talking of Nangka, I used to be confused between Nangka and Tebadak until I learned that Tebadak can be cucur-ed and not Nangka. Kan?

      • yeah. a real name like “Nangka Jones” or something. Unrelated to Norah Jones or any other famous Joneses, as far as I know. Actually, I think I’ve had Nangka cucur. I loved it. The thing about cucur tibadak is that it becomes fibrous and stringy and I’ve nearly choked on a few. Nangka cucur on the other hand becomes supersweet and a bit slimy. So it’s not to everyone’s taste, I’d imagine. But try it. I once made Cucur Apple while living in the UK. I was bored.

  3. hi! any idea on alcohol-free vanilla extract? i still have the pod sitting in my fridge – thought kan ikut Jamie Oliver extracting the vanilla but then I can’t think of any substitue for vodka!

    • Hi Lightyear. I think there are quite a few stuff available in the shops. Most ones from Malaysia are Halal branded, so I would think they should be alcohol-free. I can’t quite connect vanilla and vodka in your query here- but a few things I’ve made that required alchohol I simply replaced them with juice or leave them out completely. I’ve never really liked the taste of liqeur or alcohol in my food. In my blackforest cake I use cherry syrup instead of cherry spirit, so things like that. But for proper advice, visit this blog and post a question there: my friend Nikki is a really good baker, she knows her stuff and how to find them in Brunei. Mention I sent you there, so I might get a free cupcake if Im lucky. visit:

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