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World’s smelliest durian fruit goes on sale in UK for first time

Malaysian musang king variety so ‘fragrant’ it has never before been successfully imported to Britain

A variety of durian fruit that is so smelly it has never before been successfully imported to this country is set to be sold in the UK for the first time.

Malaysia’s musang king durian is described as the “king of fruits” across South-East Asia, and is said to be far larger and more fragrant than the Thai variety currently available in specialist Chinese supermarkets.

The name of the durian fruit comes from its distinctive spiky appearance (“duri” is the Malay word for thorn), and it is said to have a delicious, sweet taste and custardy texture.

Yet its high levels of sulphates gives the fruit a powerful and at times off-putting odour, compared a little harshly by some to gone-off meat, sewage or dead rats. It is so powerful the fruit has been banned from many airports, hotels and the Singapore rail network.

It is nonetheless considered a delicacy and, as with strong cheeses, experts say the smellier the better.

Stanley Harper, a spokesperson for Malaysia Kitchen, said that while durian fruit have been available in the UK for a couple of years, they are currently only the smaller Thai variety.

“The Malaysian durian is a lot better, it’s the best place to get hold of them,” he told The Independent. “It’s much more fragrant, and available in a lot bigger sizes as well.”

Mr Harper said the musang king had never been sold in the UK before because of “the nature of getting the fruit over here”.

“Advances in vacuum packing have helped to get it over fresher, keeping in the fragrance. It’s much more cost effective now as well – otherwise they would have to be flown over.”

The fruit will at first only be sold in the Loon Fung chain of specialist supermarkets – but Mr Harper said there are hopes it will “branch out” and become much more mainstream.

He said the Masterchef winner Tim Anderson, a brand ambassador for Malaysia Kitchen, had used the musang king to make a durian risotto and durian ice cream.

It seems Boris Johnson has no plans to see durian banned on the tube - yet. Mr Harper said: “At the moment you’re allowed to [carry it on the underground] in the UK. I certainly did in September and didn’t have any problems.”