Papaya or pawpaw, as it’s sometimes called, often loses to other well-known produce found in common grocery stores. Why is this beautiful exotic fruit overlooked? We have no answer and surely no justification for that.
But try to squeeze some lime juice over a ripe papaya and you’ll immediately fall in love with it. This will be your moment of revelation. When subtle papaya flavour and sweetness is mixed with the floral acidity of a lime, some magic happens. This is the reason why papayas are so common in savoury preparations where their sweetness is complemented with other tastes.
Prepare a papaya curry!
Normally, you’d be able to buy either red/orange-flesh or yellow-flesh papaya. Each can also be sold unripe and that’s a “green papaya”, as one can guess. Despite in fact being underripe, green fruit is a very versatile ingredient in salads, salsas, curries. In Short: dishes where firm and resilient flesh is always welcome. Why? Because no one wants disintegrated mush instead of separate flavorful cubes of papaya. To get a better understanding of how it will work out for you, we insist that you cook papaya curry.
Get 1 green fruit. Cut in half lengthwise, peel the skin, scoop the seeds and cut the fruit into 2 cm cubes. Then heat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add half a sliced onion, 3 minced garlic gloves, 1 tsp of grated ginger and a couple of sprigs of thyme. Cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat until fragrant.
Then add 2 tbsp of curry powder, ½ tsp of turmeric powder and ½ tsp of ground cumin. Cook for another minute, while constantly stirring the mixture.
Then toss in the papaya cubes. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and ½ cup of water to dilute it, and keep on simmering for 20-25 minutes. Serve with rice, bulgur, quinoa or roasted potatoes.
Sweet, sweet papaya
Don’t like the green savory variant? No problem, let’s change direction completely. Get yourself 1 good, sweet, fully ripe medium papaya, wash it, cut lengthwise and scoop the seeds.
Now mix 2 tbsp of brown sugar with ¼ ground ginger. Stir well together in a bowl. Preheat your oven to 200 C˚ and when it’s ready to accept food, place the papayas on a baking tray, cut side up. Sprinkle with the sugar mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes, basting the flesh with melted caramel as it cooks, until the edges are beginning to brown.
Take the fruit out, sprinkle it with a dash of cayenne and some lime juice.
Remember the revelation we were talking about in the beginning? That’s this recipe, but when the revelation is amplified with the burst of flavours. So easy, yet so powerful dish. Serve as is, with a scoop of ice cream, or some condensed milk. Yum.