How about a healthy salad with this fruit and a dash of nuts?

Though papaya is originally from southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, it is now cultivated in most tropical countries. It is, however, highly frost-sensitive, and is limited to tropical climates.

The ripe fruit of the papaya is usually eaten raw, without skin or seeds. The unripe green fruit can be eaten cooked, usually in curries, salads, and stews. Green papaya is used in Southeast Asian cooking, both raw and cooked. In Thai cuisine, papaya is used to make Thai salads such as som tam and Thai curries. In Indonesian cuisine, the unripe green fruits and young leaves are boiled for use as part of the salad, while the flower buds are sautéed and stir-fried with chillies and green tomatoes. Papayas have a relatively high amount of pectin, which can be used to make jellies. The black seeds of the papaya are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste. They are sometimes ground and used as a substitute for black pepper. Papaya is frequently used as a hair conditioner also, but should be used in small amounts.

Benefits of papaya

Papaya increases the body’s immunity against disease, due to the presence of vitamins A and B. Thus, conditions caused by decreased immunity, such as coughs, colds, flu and infections, can be prevented by eating papaya. Papaya can assist help heal wounds, especially burns, because it contains papain, which is useful in reducing skin inflammation. One of the most important properties of papaya is its ability to prevent cancer; because it contains antioxidants. Papaya is also helps in bowel movement due to its fibre content. Papaya is able to increase virility due to the presence of the enzyme arginine. Due to vitamin A, papaya helps develop resistance to the likes of bronchitis. The fruit helps maintain a healthy circulatory system because it contains folic acid that can eradicate harmful substances damaging the walls of the blood vessels.

Now for a recipe.

Som Tam

Ingredients

Shredded green papaya: 4 cups

Roasted unsalted peanuts: 4 tbsp

Peeled garlic: 4 cloves

Fresh bird’s eye chilli: 2

Dried shrimp: 2 tbsp

Palm sugar: 1 piece

Cherry tomatoes: 10

Juice of lime: 1

Fish sauce: 2 tbsp

Green beans: 1cup

Method

Crush the peanuts with mortar and pestle. Set aside. Wipe the mortar and pestle clean. Melt palm sugar in a small pan at low or medium heat, adding two tablespoons of water. It should form a shiny and thick syrup.

Peel the papaya and shred it into thin strips, and soak it in cold water while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Slice the green beans into one-inch pieces.

Take the chillies and peeled garlic and crush them gently with the mortar and pestle. Add the shrimp and continue crushing. Add the crushed peanuts (keep aside a spoonful) and mix well. Add the shredded papaya and crush just enough for the mixture to soak up the flavours. Add the liquid palm sugar, tomatoes, beans, lime juice and fish sauce. Mix with a spoon. Serve it in a big dish or bowl, and sprinkle the spoonful of crushed peanuts on top.

Junior sous chef,

Vivanta by Taj — Fisherman’s Cove