Sabah’s answer to the Durian: Bambangan

A fruit in Asia that smells awful yet the locals crave it every mealtime? No, I’m not talking about the durian – I am talking about the Bambangan, which the people of Borneo have been eating for centuries!


One of the dishes from Sabah that had the most unique flavour was Bambangan. In fact, this is not necessarily a dish, but a fruit, that grows on the trees in the forest. Bambangan is a type of wild mango with brown skin and a somewhat pungent smell. This is not literally eaten fresh as a fruit but made into a pickle or cooked with fish for a distinctive flavour. The smell of this fruit really reminds me of the durian from Singapore!


I first noticed Bambangan fruit in a market in Kota Kinabalu. I wondered what it was and then the smell hit me! The people of Sabah buy Bambangan from markets every week so they can add a sour tang to their meals. Sometimes, the mango is fried with onion and chilli and served as a side dish or sambal. The Bambangan also can mixed with grated seeds to make the flavour more delicious!

Bambangan with chicken and rice
Bambangan with chicken and rice

The only time I ever tried Bambangan was in Sandakan where it was added as a condiment to a simply chicken and rice meal I was enjoying. I had remembered the fruit’s name from my time in Kota Kinabalu and wanted to try it. Luckily, the taste wasn’t as bad as the smell, although in the future I think I will stick to simple chicken and rice meals with NO added tangs!


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