Raw papaya curry!

Raw papaya is something that I have not embraced until recently.  I knew that it is popularly used as a meat tenderizer – especially dum biryani – but I always skipped it when I made biryani since I was skeptical about it.  Never ate raw papaya growing up…we ate the fruit but I developed the taste for it much later…in my mid-20s.  Although the fruit tastes good it has a strong smell and I wasn’t sure if raw papaya would make my meat smell.  So, I always used curd/yogurt to tenderize the meat.  I don’t remember when exactly I tried raw papaya – at a friend’s place or the raw papaya salad at a Thai place – but I remember being pleasantly surprised by the mild flavor and crunchy texture.  Typical Green Eggs & Ham and now I am a convert.  The fact that papaya packs a lot of nutrients and offers enormous health benefits is just icing on the cake.

I normally grate it and use it in salads but I sometimes also make a simple curry and try to get my kids to eat it by telling them that it’s potato…they think it’s badly made potato and I am sure that that innocence will be lost soon.  I have recently tried papaya in sambar and while it did not lend the sambar any distinct flavor like some other vegetables – radish, drum sticks, sweet potato to name a few – it hopefully made it nutrient rich.  May be, lack of distinct flavor is a good thing when you have picky eaters.

There are quite a few recipes that I would like to try with raw papaya but today, papaya is masked as potato!



  • Raw papaya – 1
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust this to suit your spice level)
  • 1/2 tsp of coriander powder (optional)


  1. Peel the papaya and slice it along it’s length.  Remove the seeds and dice.
  2. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add mustard seeds.  When the seeds start spluttering add cumin seeds and dried red chilli
  3. Add papaya pieces, turmeric powder and curry leaves
  4. Saute on high heat for a couple minutes and then turn the heat down and cover the pan
  5. Keep stirring the pot so the bottom layer would not get burned.  Add 2-3 tbsp of water and continue cooking on low heat
  6. When the papaya is almost cooked, add red chilli powder, increase the heat and cook it uncovered for a few more minutes
  7. Add coriander powder and cook for a minute
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot rice or rotis

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