Rambutans are exotic fruits grown in tropical countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and India. They are grown on a medium-sized tree, Nephelium iappaceum, which is related to the lychee.
They are not exotic at all to the people of these tropical areas where they think of them more like people of northern climates think of apples. The name rambutan means hairy, referring to the spikes on the skin of the fruit. The spikes aren't sharp; they are fleshy and pliable.
Like the lychee, under the rind, there is the tasty white flesh of the fruit and a single inedible seed. The fruit can be eaten fresh, without cooking.
The flavor of rambutan is a little like grapes with a slight strawberry quality, slightly acidic and sweet. It has a pleasant fragrance that may be desired in some cooked dishes. It's not as sweet as the lychee and also is a little less acidic.
Rambutans are high in vitamin C, plus copper, manganese, and trace elements of many other nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and iron.