10 Jul2008


Another unusual find at Herbana Farms’ stand at the Salcedo Market last Saturday were some Malabar chestnuts (Pachira Insignis or aquatica). From the same tree often sold as a “money tree,” the larger specimens bear fruit after many years and the their seeds taste quite good raw, with a faint, almost peanut like flavor, and they also taste good when fried or roasted, approximating the texture and flavor of a regular chestnut, though milder.


Fried and with a touch of salt, they made a nice snack with a glass of Diet Coke…


I tried to smash open the tough fruit on the tiled terrace floor but a strong whack didn’t do the trick. I had to throw the fruit at almost full force and after it bounced up it cracked and yielded several seeds within. You have to “peel” the thickish skins away to reveal a creamy white center that is edible raw or cooked.


It’s fairly easy to peel back the tougher outer layer of each seed…


…and there are some 12-15 seeds in each fruit (at least the ones I got) though these fruit were a little smaller than other specimens from more mature trees.




  1. Gini says:

    Hi MM. Never seen that fruit before. So do you scoop the white meat to eat it like say a star apple, or do you peel the green skin and dice it up like a crispy guava or do you crack it open like a coconut? Is it just the seeds that you can cook and fry or can you also eat the seeds raw? Wonder what the tree looks like.

    Jul 10, 2008 | 5:51 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Gini, you have to take out the seeds only, then peel each individual seed to expose a creamy interior that is edible raw as well as cooked (baked or fried. To my knowledge, the rest of the pulp is not eaten. Um, I think I said the same thing in the post above…

    Jul 10, 2008 | 5:56 am

  4. gweni says:

    my grandma has a tree! she would usually wait for the fruits to fall off and then she’d gather, wack e’m open and sun-dry the seeds which she would roast afterwards.. pretty good.

    Jul 10, 2008 | 7:06 am

  5. A scientist in the kitchen says:

    I haven’t seen that fruit too. I’m now really excited to go to Salcedo Market to look for unusual finds. We’re going there this Saturday :)


    Jul 10, 2008 | 8:04 am

  6. jaili says:

    we have a tree at our house in manila. always knew it was part of the “chestnut” family but wasn’t quite sure what its real name is..

    like marketman, we peel each individual seed then we quickly blanch then fry (quick enough to have a crunchy exterior but still a bit soft inside).. never thought it could be eaten raw…

    Jul 10, 2008 | 9:33 am

  7. B says:

    I’m going to have to bother Gil for a taste of that :)

    Jul 10, 2008 | 10:21 am

  8. ramon ureta says:

    hello !

    just discovered your website which is very interesting – i like the spirit. i now try to read contents giving interesting insight into Philippine food.

    i’m based in singapore but now trying to put together a small farm in binangonan, rizal.

    questions – do we have ‘petai’ in the Philippines ? Is it eaten ? It is a common peranakan food in singapore/malaysia and i want to know if it is available locally.

    cheers !

    Jul 10, 2008 | 12:05 pm

  9. witsandnuts says:

    I like the 4th photo. It’s can qualify as a wonderful shadow-themed post. Fried chestnuts and soda = yummy snack. :)

    Jul 10, 2008 | 2:22 pm

  10. Cecile J says:

    Hi, MM! Am intrigued by the 4th photo, too. Did you take the shot with your left hand while throwing the fruit with your right? :)

    Jul 10, 2008 | 4:44 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    CecileJ, Mrs. MM took the photo. We were both quite surprised that the fruit bounced! :)

    Jul 10, 2008 | 4:47 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    ramon, I am not familiar with petai, unless it has a different local name. But a quick googling gets significant information about its scientific name, etc. and that it is liked by bats, and consumed by humans as well… grows from Myanmar to Indonesia, so I would guess that it could thrive here…

    Jul 10, 2008 | 4:50 pm

  13. Homebuddy says:

    Wonderful, I have this plant but its still in a pot. I guess it has to be transferred to the ground. Thanks for this very enlightening info.

    Jul 10, 2008 | 8:04 pm

  14. natie says:

    does it taste like boiled jackfruit seeds? we’ve also tried broiled marang seeds.

    Jul 11, 2008 | 5:39 am

  15. Barry Stock says:

    Known as the French Peanut, It’s a member of the Bombacaceae (not related to the true chestnut), from Central/South America, variously known as Bombax glabra, Bombacopsis glabra, Pachira macrocarpa, et. al. It’s a somewhat slow grower, and has white flowers with white stamen. It is similar to Pachira aquatica (“Malabar Chestnut”), the giant brown seed pod of P. aquatica containing much less palatable seeds, although they are edible. Both P. aquatica and B. glabra are used/sold as money trees. You can tell the difference because he foliage of B. glabra is less acuminate at the tip, and has distinctive horizontal veins. I enjoy eating French Peanut a snack.

    Jul 14, 2008 | 10:45 pm

  16. Corazon Soqueno says:

    My neighbor has a big moneytree. It broke out of the original pot and took root. When mature ,pods spontaneously bursts and scatters the seeds around. I havent tried eating any of the seeds yet.

    Jul 15, 2008 | 9:20 pm

  17. Anbumozhi says:

    I need the seed for this malabar chestnut in india .
    where can i get the seed or fruit
    can somebody get the information on this

    Feb 25, 2009 | 12:33 am

  18. Sharon says:

    Why open them green? As said before, just wait a couple of days and they will split open themselves. I am roasting some slowly now but have done it with a low heat (100C) which is taking ages. What would be a good temperature and time to cook them at?
    Another problem I have is getting at sea almonds in their pod…but that’s another story…:o)

    Feb 21, 2010 | 11:39 am

  19. Papo Vives says:

    Pachira glabra is the pchira with smooth fruits the other ones are rough fruits

    Mar 1, 2010 | 12:52 am

  20. Sue Short says:

    Thank you so much for your site, found it quite by accident ..friends have a tree in Nth Queensland (Australia). Have been trying for eons to find out what it is..now we all know. Has fruit on it now, so will be waiting with bated breath for it to drop so we can all test the taste….can’t wait. Thank you again

    Apr 3, 2010 | 4:49 am

  21. Elaine says:

    I, too, would like to know the best way of cooking these nuts, and whether the skin has to be removed before cooking. As we currently have pods that have just fallen and split, please – let me know soon!

    Apr 10, 2010 | 3:56 pm

  22. maria says:

    We just moved into this house and were very curious about this tree in our yard. It makes a beautiful flower. I’m so happy to know that the nuts are eatible. I’ve only seen one pod so far on the tree. Should I wait for it to fall to the ground or take it off?

    Jun 4, 2010 | 11:07 am


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