Curry To Salad, 6 Sweet And Savoury Ways To Cook Papaya

In the realm of gastronomy, papaya reigns supreme as an alchemist's dream. Its sweet or sour flesh, when mingled with fiery spices or delicate herbs, creates symphonies of taste. It transforms dishes, adapting effortlessly to diverse culinary traditions. Known scientifically as Carica papaya, is a tropical fruit that offers a multitude of health benefits and a unique taste profile. Beyond being a delicious and refreshing fruit, papaya can also be utilised in various culinary creations from dessert to salad. Its versatility allows it to be incorporated into both sweet and savoury dishes, enhancing their flavour and providing an array of nutrients. 

Papaya possesses a distinctive taste that can be described as a combination of sweet, slightly musky, and tropical flavours. When ripe, the flesh of the papaya is soft and buttery, with a delicate sweetness. The flavour can vary depending on the variety, with some papayas exhibiting hints of melon, peach, or even citrus notes. The vibrant orange or pink flesh contrasts beautifully with the black seeds that are typically scooped out before consumption. This flavour profile lends itself well to both sweet and savoury dishes, making papaya a versatile ingredient in culinary endeavours.

Health Benefits of Papaya

Papaya is highly regarded for its exceptional nutritional profile and numerous health benefits. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, fibre, and antioxidants, papaya can contribute to a healthy immune system, improve digestion, support heart health, and provide protection against oxidative stress. Additionally, papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which aids in the breakdown of proteins and can promote better digestion. This tropical fruit is also low in calories, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a nutritious and flavorful addition to their diet.

Here are 6 sweet or savoury dishes to enjoy papaya:

1. Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam):

Som Tam is a popular Thai salad that combines shredded green papaya with a tangy and spicy dressing. The salad often includes ingredients like chilli peppers, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, tomatoes, and peanuts. The contrasting textures and flavours of the ingredients create a refreshing and vibrant dish.

2. Hawaiian Papaya Boat:

In Hawaii, ripe papaya halves are often used as "boats" for a tropical fruit salad. The hollowed-out papaya halves are filled with a mixture of fresh fruits such as pineapple, mango, banana, and coconut, creating a colourful and delightful dessert or breakfast option.

3. Mexican Papaya Agua Fresca:

Agua fresca is a refreshing Mexican beverage made by blending fruits with water, sugar, and lime juice. Papaya is a popular choice for this drink due to its natural sweetness and tropical essence. Papaya agua fresca is perfect for quenching thirst on a hot day.

4. Papaya Curry:

In Indian cuisine, unripe or semi-ripe papaya is often used to prepare savoury dishes. Papaya curry is a flavorful and aromatic dish made by cooking green papaya with spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chilli powder. It can be served alongside rice or flatbreads.

5. Brazilian Papaya Cream (Papaya Creme):

Papaya cream is a traditional Brazilian dessert made by blending ripe papaya with vanilla ice cream or condensed milk. The result is a smooth and creamy dessert with a delightful tropical flavour. It is often enjoyed as a refreshing treat on warm days.

6. Jamaican Papaya Jerk Chicken:

Jerk chicken is a well-known Jamaican dish, and papaya can be incorporated into the marinade for an extra burst of flavour. The papaya's natural enzymes help tenderise the meat while adding a touch of sweetness to balance the spicy jerk seasoning.