27 March 2012

Of Timun China and Jambu Golok

Once again I am posting a visitor’s comment with my response.

Awang Goneng (AG) left the following comment against Pakcik’s Three (not tea) for Two (click here).

“ Abang Ngah: You do draw the crowd - cats, poets, investors and grateful children with timung china. Reading the comments is as good as reading your blog.

When I went to Kampung Raja to visit my grandad all those years ago when ferries roamed the rivers and tigers the jungle, he (grandpaw) would make his pre-lunch orders. Go to the pohong ttèrè (that's what they call jambu golok in Besut) and pluck the shoots. Go to the kitchen and ask them to cut the timung china. You know of course that the pucuk tèrrè (guava shoots) was to accompany the budu, but I don't think many people nowadays know that the timung china (watermelon) was eaten with rice in Trengganu in them wild days. Perhaps the three timungs arrived on your doorstep just as you were scooping out the steaming rice? So timely. That was better than durian runtuh - until we get the real durian runtuh when Pak Wan Sharif belanja us all.”


“ Sorry, a mistake: in my rush I wrote this, "pucuk tèrrè (guava shoots)". It's actually the shoots of the cashew tree. Jambu Golok. Is that Golok the place in what is now Southern Thailand, or is that the heavy cleaver ?”


Indeed, one time in the distant past it was a known practice for Terengganu folks to have watermelon with rice. The instance I read AG’s remark my memory flashed back, way back sixty years ago when my late mother’s own habit made me learn to take watermelon with rice. I have nothing to feel ashamed of to admit that, today, I still enjoy timun china with my meals. But, until AG made his remarks, I had all but forgotten that I had been perpetuating something of the past.

When I come to think of it I realise that today one can still see some old folks having timun china with rice at a party where timun china is laid out on the table. One has to watch this to realise the old habit dies hard.

As for AG’s trips to Kampong Raja, Besut, I remember those days when passengers disembarked from their bus and stood beside it while the ferry took them across the river. To us, children, it was a great fun to stand close to the edge to watch the current, imagining the sighting of hungry crocodiles. Yes, Mi, I remember all too well that very special old gentleman, Tokwan Ahmad Hakim. He liked to spin humorous tales about Orang Batak and how I laughed!

Thank you, AG for mentioning all those long forgotten facts.

You questioned where the name jambu golok originated from. Does Golok comes from the place of Southern Thailand, or ‘golok’ the ‘heavy cleaver’? Having cracked my aged brain over this very highly academic subject, I can only arrive at one conclusion that ‘golok’ comes from the heavy cleaver (or chopper – golok)

The jambu golok plant (photographed today)

Flowers and young shoots ( photographed today)

The jambu golok fruit

The difficult part is how to explain my rationale that it is the heavy cleaver, not the Golok of Southern Thailand. Firstly, I must assume that everyone knows the special shape of this fruit. As far as I know, jambu golok is perhaps the only fruit on earth which has its nut grown outside the main body of the fruit, in a kind of appendix. If we rest one of these fruit on its side we can see how it resembles the outline of a cleaver ( a chopper ). The crooked nut ( cashew nut ) which is attached to the broad end of the fruit represents the handle of the cleaver.

Any semblance of a cleaver ??

Try harder!

How else could the old folks of Terengganu design the intricate designs of songket, brass tapak sirih, keropok lekor and so forth without the kind of fertile imagination to make them think of an appropriate and simple name for that jambu fruit? For its unique structure and shape this fruit carries at least four names that I know;

Panggil Jambu golok boleh

Gajus pun boleh

Janggus boleh jugok

Ketereh pun boleh jugok

Kalau pandai orang puteh

Dengan cashew nut kita berlagok


And finally, it is my turn to wonder, and leave it to my visitors to tell me why the following fruit are so named.

Timun china

Jambu kling

Pisang kelat kling

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


Sir Pök Déng said...

My late Father loved eating nasi with timung cina. I thought it was Father's unique practice which nobody else would do!

Oh the jambu golok. I remember we had jambu golok tree grown wild near our house in Sura Tengoh, Dungung. We picked the ripe fruit and washed it thoroughly with tap water. Then we straightly devoured the soft flesh until the juice slither down our arm to the elbow. We threw away the cashew nuts, not knowing that it can be eaten too. But Mother always told me to bring home some young jambu golok shoots so that we can eat them with budu, rice, and freshly grilled Terenggany kembong fish.


kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
I've heard of the rest but Ketereh is new to me. Mostly it would be Gajus or Janggus. The processed nuts, salted are widely available. But the pucuk is not so unless you stumble on them at the Pasar tani. I like the pucuk with sambal b'can.It has that kelat taste that whets the appetite (we have no budu around here)

Talking about water-melon with rice, I came across a similar situation ie banana with rice!, I was having lunch at Bt Bintang one day when a foreigner came and sat at my table. And he ordered just that - a plate of rice and 2 bananas. In Sudan he said meat or fish were rarely available. Banana was the next best thing to have with your rice!


cann said...

Oh my, I myself eat Timun China with rice when I was a kid, seeing my grandmother doing so. It's really nice! The juicy and refreshing sensation of the Timun China combined with the hot steamy rice, it's just a taste so unique in its own way.

Achieq said...

Dear Pak Cik,

Even im not from 'Ganu', i love to eat rice with 'timung cina' with Sambal Belacan. ...Nice....
Maybe 'Ganu' blood is in my body.hehe

Al-Manar said...

Sir Pok Deng,

So your late father (AlFatihah for him) belonged to my generation.

Jambu golok is one of the wonder plants. The fruit can be turnhed into various dishes, the nut is among the top grade nuts and the shoots can be a kind of salad.

It is nice to see you around. Hope all the personal irritations are over.

Al-Manar said...


We have all these wonder plants in Malaysia. As you have overseas readers, perhaps your poems will make a theme of these Malaysian plants and fruit.

MamaTim said...

asSalam Pakcik.. Lepas kawin dgn my Lalliiing who's born, bred pure Terengganu style, baru saya tahu ada kelompok manusia yg makan tembikai dgn nasi. Terkejut juga mula2 tapi now after 18 years dah biasa lah kan. Even my sons copy their Ayah. I'm sure people of other states too have peculiar eating styles cuma off my head right now I can't seem to pick any.

What abt you, U encountered any funny/odd meal-scene elsewhere, Pakcik?

Al-Manar said...

C Ann,

'... when I was a kid ...' makes you sound very old! I am surprised that this habit is not really a rare one after all. Do not stop that practice beyond your kid stage.

Al-Manar said...


You have Terengganu blood, really? That Awang Goneng is an expert, now probably spreading in London the special Gganu dialect. He may now start promoting eating timun china with rice at Malaysian restaurants there.

Write for your blog a posting on your Terengganu root.

Al-Manar said...


WAK Salaam. Congratulation for getting a Terengganu for your other half, wonderful people aren't they?

I do not notice anything truly odd with non Terengganu Malays. Partly I was a lot outside the state and secondly, my other half is not from Terengganu, specially chosen, approved by mother and imported!

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
Great idea, Sir! Simple kinds like papaya and belimbing are such 'exotic' items to most. Now I could touch on those I have around my backyard only. Maybe I should go more often to the 'outside world' Pasar tani and all for these items! I'll do just that! Thank you!


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
In my house, there's timung cina eaten with rice, also ordinary timun turned into air timun (juiced with julienned strips for that extra crunch), cut up pineapple plus sambal belacan or kicap...the last time we visited Phuket, we found buah jambu golok turned into cordial....kelat-kelat manis....but yummm.... our favourite lunch places in KT would be Meka @ Jalan Sultan Omar or Kedai Mat Binjai. Just the ulam-ulam, budu, sambal lada, singgang and ikang bakor....oh boy....droool... I bet Ayoh Wang Goneng can't get pucuk jambu golok in good ol' London. purrrr....meow!

Wan Sharif said...

Now I have to thank Abang Hassan and bro Wan Hulaimi or AG who somehow got my name into this post... Honestly it would be an honour to have two of you( with your spouse as well) to grace my belanja makan or makan do .. With or without the durian runtuh ;)
It was one of my dream to have all my blogging friends to have a bbq evening at the cattle farm.. It seems rather remote now but who knows with many good friends' doa..
Two of you seems to share many good memories from Tanjung, Great Britain, Kkalang Maras and back..
Even the jambu golok and timun cina can start a..
I used to eat rice with timun cina as lauk in Pulau Duyong and still do that in KL here with members of my family ha ha ha ;)

Al-Manar said...


I am glad to be of service. Idea costs nothing

kotastar said...

Sdr Al Manar,
Now we look back at the menu of yesteryear. Watermelon parts, the base section after the delicious ripe parts are eaten, scrapped and mixed with sambal formed part of the menu then.Alas, I have not seen that served now. 'Kerabu'tembikai tak wujud lagi. Pucuk janggus dengan sambal belacan masih segar lagi. Langkawi had hundreds of janggus trees before along the beaches ( like on the east coast) SADLY all are gone now.Therefore 'janggus delicacies'are missing. kita kenapi Trengganu la!

Anonymous said...

Nobody mentioned about masak lemak putih buah jambu golok. One of the best tasting dish I've tried (cooking and eating). I was eons ago posted to Teganu and was at the market place where I noticed the buah jambu golok sold on skewers. All I knew then was to eat the fruit colek style. I asked tha lady selling what people do with the fruits. "Masak lemak," she said, "boh ikang tawo bako banyak2. Buoh ni rebuh dulu buang kelat dia, pah tu baru masak." I got three trees growing by the fence, just for shoots. Earned quite a number of friends from the neighbourhood sharing the shoots.

Anonymous said...

More food funny names from Teganu. Try telo kkorang (buah Melaka) and kayu keramat (char kue). Bless orang Teganu to come up with such fitting names.

Al-Manar said...


I am truly surprised that you are not surprised to hear about timun and jambu golok. You are one up on the juice from jambu golok which I cannot imagine how the acidic taste can be removed. But leave it to the Thai people to do what seems impossible.

I frequent the first shop you mentioned but not the second. I wonder if that is on Jalan Binjai.

I think we must not underestimate the availability of many fruit and all in London. Once I coulod not imagine transporting durian anywhere. But now it a big business. For all you know AG might have planted the jambu golok in his backyard.

Al-Manar said...

Ayah Wang,

Everything is possible,particularly when you have put in so much effort plus money into it.

Incidentally when the time comes, can I have cash in lieu?

Al-Manar said...

Sdr Kotastar,

The past is gone. It is sad to realise that a number of plants which flourished in the past are diminishing and are likely to disappear altogether. In Terengganu certain fruit plants like jambu arang and pepisang are hard to find today and one day will be gone and no one is any wiaser.

Janggus trees will probably remain as the nuts are valuable commercially.

Al-Manar said...

Anonymous ( the first ),

You have three jambu golok plants grown beside the fence. I am curious if this is away from seaside environments. I had two plants grown in two separate locations in KL. They grew very well but nver bore fruit. A Terengganu friend did the same and failed to make the tree bear fruit. Are yoiu any lucky?

Al-Manar said...

Anonymous ( the second )

I am not sure what telo kkorang is. Kayu keramat is children's favourite. You know what 'tahi itek' is, I am sure - and jala mas. Old Terengganu folks had very fertile imagination!

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind a little bit of agric lesson. Jambu golok are terminal bearers. So if you keep plucking the shoots, no way is it going to bear fruits. Stop plucking the shoots and let it grow to maturity, time will come that it will bear flowers and fruits. The seaside environment has nothing to do with it. I remember the ones grown inland (over 150 km from the nearest coast) by my greatgrandma where we used to enjoy the fruits. In reality jambu golok are planted on the barren coastal soils as they are the few economic plant species that can thrive on such soils.
The ones we have around the house are only meant for shoots, so we keep them trimmed bush height.

I don't know what better name for telo kkorang (telor kukurang) but I believe those are the greenish rice flour balls with gula melaka fillings rolled in grated coconuts. Buah Melaka, isn't it? Incidentlt tahi itik and jala mas are Kelantanese domains.

Temuk said...

What about rice + fish "jelantah"? Fish jelantah is heavily used (and reused) cooking oil with 'fried' fish bits left in it after frying. As a kid, I would "curi-curi" prepare jelantah rice for my "mentong", a mini meal taken after the main one. Kementerian Pengguna or Kem. Kesihatan would today tell me that my jelantah rice is not food, but polluted rice!

Can I make a guess? Jambu golok is called so because the east-coasters believe that it was originally the jambu of the Golokians, though the trees are now grown by our local people.

Water melons are called timun Cina because the majority of melon growers are Chinese.

Your gajus cleaver reminds me of an unfinished Malay keris. It appears to me that it has two sharp sides, two blades in one. Bagusnya, satu golok dua mata; kiri kanan, makan belaka!

Have a nice weekend. Salam bahagia.

Awang Goneng said...

I am persuaded by your sketch that the jambu looks like the gölök, hence the name. Cleaver though it was, it was the back of the gölök that cracked the coconut. Talking of which, there are young Arabs in London who are still driven to mirth whenever they are reminded of the young coconuts of the al Manar estate.

Thank you Pak Temuk for your story of the jelatah. I have never jelatahed in my life but I think we called the residues hapah kuali. But Ayöh Wang Sharif will not be serving us that when he belanja us on his cattle farm. We'll eat as his Frisian cows do the debböh. What a lovely company it will be with all the commenters from your blog here, Abang Ngah.

We Trengganuians are not the only people to accompany rice with fruit though. One day I was in a cafetaria style eaterie in Gombak (opposite the old Lee Rubber) when I saw a miserable looking Somali chap picking at his rice. I went to him and said, "I know what's wrong. You want a banana with that." It brought a smile to his face immediately. My son has many Somali friends and he told me the trick. I have not yet seen the jambu gölök in London, either transported through the wonders of modern flight or grown by way of the hydroponics.

Al-Manar said...

Anonymous (the second),

By the sound of it you are learned in plants, like Sdr Temuk whom I look up on plant matters. I think you may well be right since your grandma's plant testified to that fact.

I am still at a loss with regard to that name, Telor Korang. But I am familiar with that green thing, Buah Melaka. That you for participating and I hope to see your presence again.

Al-Manar said...


I am out of my depth on jelantah and am glad Awang Goneng has something to say on that. This teaches me something that I should not try to be clever on all these plants and food matters. Leave them to the experts!

Thank you for making your presence and for your wishes.

Al-Manar said...

Awang Goneng,

Thank you, Mi for making your points. Now we will wait for the big makan from Ayoh Wang.