Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Green Papaya Curry

The papaya is a favourite fruit in most of India. However, I've noticed that only the East of India (Bengal, Assam, Bihar) uses it as as vegetable too, making curries out of it. I've asked people in the South why they prefer to use the ripe papaya only as fruit, and the answer I've got is an unconvincing "Raw papaya heats up the body." Now, I really don't know this typically Indian distinction of 'foods that heat up your body' and 'foods that cool your body', but we shall save that debate for another day.

To get on with today's recipe, this is the papaya curry that is very delicious, very healthy, and one of my favourites from when I was a child. It is made with diced raw papaya and diced potatoes and has a cumin base seasoning.

Raw papaya (1 medium, diced into cubes)
Potatoes (2-3 medium, diced into cubes)
Oil for frying
Turmeric powder
Chilli powder
Cumin seeds (for seasoning)
Cumin seeds (ground into paste)
Ginger (1/2 inch piece, ground into paste)
Bay leaves (1-2)
Garam masala (this is the Bengali garam masala, different from the off-the-shelf Everest variety, and contains cinnamon, clove, and green cardamom ground into powder)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste

Heat oil in a wok and fry the papaya and potatoes in it. When the papayas begin to turn translucent, add the cumin and bay leaves and stir some more. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt, sugar, garam masala powder, and stir some more. When the vegetables are well fried in the masala, add the cumin seed and ginger paste. Add water. Bring to boil (papayas take some time boiling so be patient) and then reduce heat and set on simmer.

Check with a fork or toothpick for the softness of the vegetables. Keep on simmer, add a little ghee and some more garam masala. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice, roti or parathas.


dharmabum said...

sounds yummy. am curious about the bengali garam masala though.

and i completely agree with the indian thought on foods. it is well thought of, and very deep.

RS said...


The Bengali garam masala is green cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. These are added as seasoning and also garnish in most non-vegetarian dishes, and some some vegetarian dishes such as cauliflower and papaya to add flavour, along with a dollop of ghee on top. (You see, getting a Bengali to eat vegetables is TOUGH.)

What I do is, roast these three spices on a dry frying pan, and then grind them in the mixie. I make enough to serve me for a month, and then replenish my stocks again.

dharmabum said...

ur recipes speak it for you, but wow, am just amazed - u even make the masala :)

and yes - can relate to the non-veggie eating kinds - got quite a few friends like that.

Gary said...

I just found your recipe for green papaya curry and got everything to make it, then noticed that you have no amounts noted for most of the spices. Since some of them are pretty strong, it will be interesting if I can't find out how much of them to use. Can you help? I also invited you to a chat if that's easier


RS said...


Good to hear from you. I realised with your comment that it may indeed be tough for people who are new to these recipes to gauge the amounts of the ingredients that go into them.

I'm not much of an 'amount/proportion' person myself, I go largely by instinct and taste, and of course, by memory of what I saw my mother doing. I accepted the chat invite, so let me know in case you have more questions.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thirunavukkuarasu said...

hi.. passed by your blog today and noted the recipe for green papaya curry. I am sure it tastes yummy. Btw, in south india (kerala) papaya is used as a vegetable too. We make stir fry out of green papaya (mezhuguvaraty).