The name “Durian” comes from the Malay word “duri” (thorn) with the suffix “-an” (for building a noun in Malay language). In Thailand today, we call it as ทุเรียน “Thuriian”. Durian is native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. People believe that durian came to the south of Thailand in the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767).

Many areas in Thailand are good for durian cultivation. This might be a reason why Thailand is the major exporter of Durian. The east of Thailand is the main center of fruit production. Janthaburii, a province in eastern Thailand, therefore holds the World Durian Festival annually.

thai durian
Mooanthooang Durian (ทุเรียนหมอนทอง)

Numerous durian cultivars have arisen in the Southeast Asia. Four common durian cultivars in Thai markets are “Kradum” (กระดุม), “Chanii” (ชะนี), “Mooanthooang” (หมอนทอง), and “Kaanyaau” (ก้านยาว). In durian season, Kradum durian will come to the market first because it is the first ripen durian and later on will be Chanii durian, Mooanthooang durian, and Kaanyaau durian consecutively. When the first durian cultivar comes to the market, the price is expensive but it will go down when another cultivar comes.

Talking about durian smell, durian’s lovers say that they like the smell, without the smell the fruit will not be called as durian. While some people cannot stand durian odor, they try to describe it as completely rotten mushy onions, or pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. Due to the negative view on durian odor, Mr. Songphon, Thai scientist, has spent 30 years for creating odorless durian “Janthaburii 1”. However, there are a lot of arguments about this. Some durian’s lovers were shocked with this news, especially durian consumers in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia because durians in these countries are priced by the odors.

During durian season, there are signs forbidding durians in some places such as on air-conditioning buses in Thailand. Although passengers can hide carrying durian to the bus, they cannot hide the odor of the durian.

In Thailand, durian is made a variety of snacks and desserts such as sweet sticky rice topped with fresh durian and durian coconut cream (ข้าวเหนียวหน้าทุเรียน), durian chips (ทุเรียนทอด), durian paste (ทุเรียนกวน), durian toffee (ลูกอมทุเรียน / ท๊อฟฟี่ทุเรียน), durian ice cream (ไอติมทุเรียน), and moon cakes stuffed with durian paste (ขนมไหว้พระจันทร์ไส้ทุเรียน).