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