Why Ganja Durian Comes With Many Names
Some durians comes with very distinctive features that tell them apart from others.
While these features are not necessarily unique to them in the world of durian varieties, they are often distinctive enough to identify one from another when we only account for the better known varieties.
And if there is a different breed sharing a similar feature, just adding another identifiable feature is usually good enough to confirm a particular durian is of a certain cultivar.
Ganja is a durian with a unique feature of a very long straight and sturdy stem rising from the top. Like a candle on top of a spiky durian cake.
The stem is at least twice the length of the average durian stem. And that is putting it mildly.
It has a flurry of aliases including ganyau (or ganyao), tangkai panjang, taiping 3, chang zhi, long handle (长柄), tiger hill, etc.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that ganja is also a street term, or synonym if you like, for marijuana in various parts of the world including south east Asia. Whether this name is meant to play a role in describing how addictive this cultivar is is up to debate.
If you spot durians with unusually long stems in Singapore or Malaysia stalls, the odds are overwhelming that they are Ganja.
This durian is supposed to have originated from Thailand with the Thai name ganyao. While monthong is best known in Thailand, gan yao specifically from Nonthaburi is famous for being Thailand’s most expensive cultivar.
It is officially registered in the Malaysian registry of fruits. However, it’s official registration number is somewhat a confusing mystery as the records of D105, D130 and D158 all list as ganja or kanyau.
Locals in Penang, Perak, Selangor, etc, would usually recognize ganja as D158.
Whatever the real story behind that is, it should not deflect from the fact that ganja is a champion durian from Thailand. And unlike many Thai durians, it’s characteristics are suited for the taste preferences of consumers further south in Malaysia and Singapore. Which is why it is one of the most imported Thai durians into the regions along with the irrepressible Monthong.
It does have a presence in the plantations in Malaysia. With the biggest ganyao plantation said to be in an orchard located in Terengganu around the Kampung Batu 9 area.
Features of Ganja durian
As mentioned previously, it has a very long stem. You will just not miss this feature unless the fruit has been tampered with.
The husk is mostly of a brownish green colour with a pale tone.
With a size typically over 2kg, the shape of the exterior husk is generally rounded like a football.
Ganja can look a lot like black thorn with an imposing long stem. Or should we say it the other way around as black thorn looking like ganja with a shorter and less attention grabbing stem? It’s this somewhat similar appearance which has led to speculation that black thorn was grown from a seed of ganyao.
At the bottom of husk, there is a small indent like D24. But smaller. Enabling the fruit to stand upright on it’s own.
It’s thorns are long, concave and generally closely packed together in a rather neat and uniform pattern.
Thorns can also grow on the seams. Meaning that when you crack this open along the seams, you will observe a lot of those spikes being split in two.
When you open up this fruit, you can often find yourself greeted by a messy state of affairs. The pulps can have their skin thorn and flesh disturbed, with trailing skin reaching out to all sorts of directions. As if it has just been through a hurricane.
Some call it the messy hair look. Or even the flaming look.
This appearance is mostly caused by it’s thin sticky skin hanging onto the inner surface of the pods. So when you lift one side of a pod to rest the fruitlets on the other side, the skin is pulled and torn. Causing this disastrous looking disarray.
It would take a true expert on a lucky day to open this durian and have the fruitlets look pristine in showroom condition.
The flesh has a bright yellow shade to it. Like that of a young musang king or a banana.
While people purchase red prawn for it’s sweetness and green skin for it’s bitterness. Those who buy ganja generally go for it’s punchy floral taste that it is famous for.
This is without mentioning that people might buy it because it is what’s left of the durian season which will be mentioned later.
It is mildly sweet. With a sublime sticky texture that would remind you of natural peanut butter.
The higher the quality of this durian, the stickier the flesh tends to be.
Those who like hor lor would most probably find ganja as a more than worthy alternative. Maybe even an upgrade.
You might not just notice the aftertaste of this one. But also the after-sticky. It’s as if you can still feel the flesh in your mouth after you have swallowed it. Maybe that’s because it is so sticky that it’s not fully devoured yet even though we think it is.
You will have to try it yourself to get what I mean.
Don’t underrate this durian. Ganja is one durian where I have seen the most people left stunned by how it taste when they try it for the very first time. Even experienced durianers can be flabbergasted.
Even though ganja durian has one of the thickest and sumptuous amount of flesh among the better known cultivars, it also has huge seeds. But the yield would still be large enough to leave you breathless.
Just one lobe of fruitlets from a big aromatic ganja can easily make up for a meal of an average adult. Leaving the rest contained in the other pods for dessert or supper.
So you can easily suffer from ganja hangover.
And don’t leave it lying around for too long before consumption as it can get watery as quickly as in half a day after the drop.
Ganja harvest season
Ganja is well-known for it’s late harvest. So much so that seeing it in stalls is a sign that the durian season is coming to a close, or that it’s already over for the mass majority of other cultivars.
Which is why it is often seen accompanied by D15. Another end season cultivar.
It’s flowering period, which is an industry jargon referencing a durian’s harvest period, is 120 to 130 days. This is just about as high as it can be by Malaysian durian standards.
The price is normally around $9/kg to $12/kg.
You’ll have to grab them when you see them. Ganja flies very quickly off the shelf… when they are able to make it into a retail setting.
This is partly attributed to it being a very late season cultivar. And durian stalls that have not closed for the season really have very little selections to choose from.
The lack of competition don’t just mean that consumers will most likely try them, it also means that the price has less downward pressure than compared to main season durians.