East African Fruit Salad

In every upmarket hotel/lodge I have stayed in when travelling in East Africa (and they are many) a fresh fruit salad is served at the end of a meal. Usually there are lots of desserts such as pies, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes, jellied fruit and more. Most travellers love this selection although I head straight for the fruit bowl since I don't eat cakes or white sugar. That is perfectly fine by me since I LOVE eating fruits in Africa. Not only are they exceptional in taste, they provide you with lots of hydration as well, perfect after a hot day in the sun. The usual combination of fruit salads in East Africa are papayas, pineapples, bananas, watermelons and passion fruit. I use mangoes instead of papayas because I can't stand papayas...I think they are disgusting (especially the ones I have tasted in that part of the world). I added the grapes for extra colour but usually you won't see grapes around these places unless they are imported from South Africa or elsewhere. There is nothing better after an exciting day out driving on safari, seeing all those wonderful wild animals, roaming freely in their natural habitat than reaching your lodge, cleaning up and sitting down to a nice meal. Although some might choose brandy by the fireplace, I usually munch on my fruit salad, very, very happy. I might even order a watermelon smoothie!

Just one note. Never, ever prepare your salads with any seeds in them (such as grape seeds or watermelon seeds). They completely ruin the fun of eating the fruit (in my view). The seeds from Passion fruits are fine though because they are edible.

Also keep in mind. Never eat fruit bought by the roadside when travelling through these regions unless you can peel it. In most better hotels and lodges it is perfectly safe to eat the fruit available (I have done so for years), just take extra care when you are not sure about the surroundings. If the place looks run down or dirty, the food might not be safe to eat if undercooked for example.

And finally, ensure all the fruits selected are very ripe since the salad should taste sweet.

A bowl full of sunshine, vitamins and colour

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free
  • Vegan

East African Fruit Salad

Serves 3-4


  • One quarter pineapple, trimmed and cut in cubes
  • One quarter seedless watermelon, trimmed and cut in cubes
  • 1 mango, trimmed and cut in cubes
  • 3 passion fruit, seeds scooped out
  • 1 handful seedless (green) grapes (optional), sliced in halves
  • 1 banana, sliced coarsely


  1. Ensure all the fruits selected are ripe.
  2. Keep in mind to chop the fruit in similar sized pieces (bite size).
  3. Start with the pineapple. Place it base side down and carefully slice off the skin, carving out any remaining hard "eyes" with the tip of your knife. Then cut the pineapple into quarters, remove the core (hard part in the middle) and cut one quarter pineapple into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  4. Cut the watermelon in half and each half again in two parts. Slice off the skin of one quarter watermelon and chop into bite size pieces. You can also scoop out the watermelon with a melon baller. Set aside.
  5. Turn the mango up on the skinny side. The stone is a flat oval, so you will find your mangoes are narrower one way than the other in alignment with the stone. Cut off the "cheeks" of the mango, each side, as close to the stone as possible. If you hit the stone, just swerve around it a little. Now take a cheek, skin side facing your palm and slice the meat of the fruit all the way down to the skin, but not through it. Be careful not to go through the skin and into your hand! Now cut it the other way to make a grid. Repeat with other cheek. Now flip the cheek inside out so that the fruit is like a hedgehog. Cut off the cubes. Next peel the skin off the centre piece with the stone. Peel it all the way around and leave no skin on the edge. Carve off any extra fruit off the stone with a small knife. Set mango aside.
  6. Slice the seedless grapes into halves. Set aside.
  7. Slice the banana and set aside.
  8. Add a handful of chopped fruit (pineapple, mango, banana, grapes, watermelon) into a large bowl. Repeat until there is no fruit left. Be careful not to mix the salad too much as it will become mushy.
  9. Cut the passion fruit into halves and scoop out the seeds over the salad.
  10. Serve immediately since the banana will quickly discolour. If not serving immediately, drissle a few drops lemon or lime juice on top before covering with cling film.


  • To select pineapples: Look for pineapples that are heavy for their size. Pineapples should be free of soft spots and bruises. Pineapple stops ripening as soon as it is picked, so choose fruit with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid pineapple that smells musty, sour or fermented.
  • To select watermelons: Look for one that is heavy for its size with a rind that is relatively smooth and that is neither overly shiny nor overly dull. When you knock on its side, you should feel a solid resonance. Additionally when you turn it over you should look for a creamy yellow spot where it ripened in the sun.
  • To select passion fruit: Select those that are heavy for their size (almost like tomatoes) with smooth to slightly wrinkled skin. Passion fruit should never feel light or airy.