If you have just one papaya and you are asked to make a sumptuous meal with it, what will you do?

I procured two green papayas today to answer this question.

Before that, I must tell you how I procured these papayas from a walk on the hills. Nobody will expect papayas to be growing on hills. However, not only papayas but also there is Tulsi, Ixora, a shy jasmine creeper, tamarind, small mango trees laden with blossoms, gooseberries and my favourite moringa plants, among so many plants on this hill.

This is the result of the hard work of three retired gentlemen from different backgrounds who found their Ikigai in planting and nurturing saplings along the hillside for many years now. Their Ikigai is bearing fruits now. The Ikigai speaks for itself!

In the mornings, you can see them working quietly by the hillside, planting, watering and manuring these saplings. Now there are so many papayas that they were only happy to share them with me. It is obvious that the gentlemen are very happy and healthy, spending time with nature and also doing manual work every single day. Daily immersing in their forest bath, Ikigai and Ichigo ichie must be doing wonders to their mind, body and soul.

Thanks to our theme of Ikigai this month , I could relate to the daily plantation activity of these gentlemen as Ikigai. 

Papayas are simple plants which need little care. Green papayas can be used to make delicious dishes. So I thought of making a platter with only papaya dishes. 

And here’s why it is a wonderful gift of nature:

  • Papayas are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants
  • Papain is a proteolytic enzyme extracted from the raw fruit of the papaya plant. Proteolytic enzymes help break proteins down into smaller protein fragments called peptides and amino acids. You can get papain from eating raw papaya
  •  Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant found in papaya, is known to filter harmful blue light rays. It has anti-cancer properties and anti-inflammatory properties. And is known to be good for skin and hair also
  • Papaya is known to have antibacterial properties and is good for digestion. I remember my granny feeding raw papaya slices to children when they had digestive problems

The dishes I have made today for this platter are Papaya Thoran, Papaya Erissery along with steamed rice. There is also the exotic Papaya Salad known as Som Tam.

Papaya Thoran

Ingredients

  • Half of a medium-sized papaya
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of grated coconut
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • For Tempering
  • Mustard seeds, curry leaves, 1 tsp urad dal, two dry red chillies and coconut oil

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a kadhai (wok). Remove the skin and wash papaya and remove seeds. Grate papaya slices or chop them finely. Add finely chopped green chilli and onion and sauté till translucent. Add papaya. Add turmeric powder and salt. Sauté for a few minutes. Keep lid on and cook on slow flame. No need to add water. Grind the coconut and garlic and add to the mixture. Stir occasionally till papayas are well cooked and soft.  Heat 2 tsp coconut oil in a kadhai, splutter mustard and other ingredients for tempering. Add tempering.

You can also add one carrot (finely grated )to this preparation to enhance the nutritional value.

Papaya Erissery (Papaya Green Gram Curry )

Ingredients

  • Half of a medium-sized Papaya
  • ½ cup whole green gram
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2  tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For tempering

  • 2 to 3 tsp coconut oil
  • Mustard seeds
  • Curry leaves
  • 2 to 3 tsp grated coconut
  • 2 dry red chillies.

Remove the skin, wash papaya and remove seeds. Cut into cubes. Pressure cook with lentils adding 1 tsp turmeric powder and salt.

Make a paste of coconut, cumin, green chilly and garlic. Add to the papaya lentil mixture. Add 1 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp red chilli powder. Mix well and simmer for five minutes. Heat coconut oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, 3 tsp grated coconut and dry red chillies. Fry till coconut turns golden. Pour over the curry. Healthy and nutritious papaya curry are ready. Can be used with rice and rotis.

The is no onion in this preparation. If you want, you can remove the garlic clove also, this curry can be very different.

Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Papaya Salad is an exotic salad made from raw papaya. This dish is traced to the ethnic Lao people. It is known as Som Tam in Thailand. Very refreshing and healthy for the summer mood.

I have not followed the exact Som Tam dressing for this salad
Ingredients

  • 2 cups grated raw papaya
  • 1 cup grated raw mango
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 4 to 5 red chillies crushed
  • 1 green chilli julienned and seeds removed
  • A small piece of  ginger julienned
  • Salt bto taste
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 tsp fresh lime juice
  • Basil
  • 4 tsp honey

Mix all ingredients in a salad bowl. Papaya releases water and gets soggy if it is kept for longer. Make it just before eating to get that crunchy taste. The small bird’s eye chilli I used in this salad from my kitchen garden is very cute but it is better not to bite it (photo for refrence). So I removed them before serving. Thai red chillies are also very hot. You can consider using them sparsely for this preparation.

Hope you have enjoyed the Papaya Platter 🙂

Jai Sri Hari

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Surekha Chandrasekhar

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