Pulasan may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Both the flesh of the pulasan and the seed inside pose a choking risk, so see our suggestions for how to serve pulasan by baby’s age before introducing.
Pulasan is a close relative of the rambutan, both juicy fruits of evergreen trees that originated in Southeast Asia. The plant thrives wherever the weather is warm and wet, like the tropics of the Americas, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Asia, where pulasan is also known as bulala and ngoh khao san, among other names. In Malay, its name means “twist,” which hints at how one eats the fruit. The edible part of a pulasan is protected by a thick, leathery casing that one can crack open by twisting the shell in opposite directions. Like rambutan, the shell of a pulasan has soft, fleshy spikes, though they are thicker and shorter.
Yes. Pulasan is packed with plenty of calcium to support bone health and potassium as an important electrolyte for heart health. It also offers a good amount of vitamin C, which aids the absorption of plant-based sources of iron. The benefits don’t stop there: the fruit also offers antioxidants to repair cells, carbohydrates for fast energy, and fiber to nourish baby’s developing gut microbiome.
Pulasan flesh is often made into preserves, jam, jelly, or sauces, which may contain sugar or other ingredients that are not appropriate for babies. If serving canned pulasan, you can rinse or soak the fruit in water to remove some of the sugary syrup from the flesh, then cut according to baby’s age and eating ability.
Yes. You won’t find pulasan on most lists of the top choking hazards for babies, but the fruit’s chewy, firm, and slippery consistency poses a risk. The pulasan’s inner seed is edible, but it is hard and rounded, making it a high choking risk. To reduce these risks, remove the shell and seed before offering pulasan to babies and toddlers and finely chop or mince the pulasan flesh. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No. Allergies to pulasan are rare, but possible. People who are allergic to pollens may be sensitive to pulasan, rambutan, and lychee fruits, as can individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen-food allergy). Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Recommended Guide: Introducing Allergens
There are different varieties of pulasan, each with its own distinctive flavor, but most have a floral aroma and sweet taste that is similar to lychee, a tropical fruit in the same family. Once removed from its spiny shell, the translucent egg-shaped fruit can be eaten fresh out of hand, pickled, preserved, or cooked in sweet desserts or savory curries, salads, salsas, and more. Try finely chopped or minced pulasan mixed into savory or sweet warm cereals, coconut rice, or chia puddings.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Finely chop fresh pulasan, seed and shell removed, and serve atop a soft, scoopable food like congee, mashed plantains, or yogurt. At this age, refrain from offering processed pulasan products like jam, jelly, paste, or syrup.
Discard the seed and shell and cut the pulp into quarters to create bite-sized pieces (about the size of a large adult knuckle). Serve the pieces of pulasan on their own for the child to practice picking up or mix them into grains or fruit salads. Of course, you may continue to finely chop the pulp as well.
When you feel your child is ready and understands instructions, try working with whole pulasan that has been shelled, and coach how to take bites from the fruit and spit out the seed. Be sure to stay within an arm’s reach if they need more help managing the fruit’s consistency.
Read more about Sugar and Taste Preferences to help your child build a healthy relationship with sweet foods.
2 cups (400 grams)
5 minutes + overnight soak
2 pulasans (or rambutans)
½ ripe banana
¾ cup (180 milliliters) full-fat coconut milk (ideally BPA-free if canned)
3 tablespoons (42 grams) chia seed
1 pinch cardamom (optional)
1 pinch ground peanut (optional)
This recipe contains common allergens: peanut and coconut. Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced. While coconut allergy is rare, it’s classified as a tree nut by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Make this chia seed pudding the night before you plan to serve it so it’s ready in a flash in the morning.
Run a knife around the pulasan shell, then twist the halves in opposite directions to peel the shell from the flesh. Cut the flesh from the seed, then finely chop the flesh. Discard the shells and seeds.
Peel and mash the banana, then scoop into a small glass jar with a sealed lid. A 2-cup mason jar works perfectly!
Add the chopped pulasan, coconut milk, chia seeds, and seasoning. Seal the jar, then shake vigorously to combine.
Place the jar in the fridge to chill until the chia seeds have expanded and the mixture has thickened, ideally overnight. If you’re pressed for time, chill for at least 1 hour, shaking every 10 minutes or so to fully blend the mixture and help speed up the process.
When you’re ready to serve, scoop some chia seed pudding into the child’s bowl. Exact serving size is variable. Let the child decide how much to eat. Sprinkle ground peanut on top (optional).
Let the child try to self-feed. If you’d like to encourage utensil use, pre-load the utensil and rest it on the edge of the bowl or next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass a pre-loaded utensil in the air for the child to grab.
To Store: Pulasan and Banana Chia Seed Pudding keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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