The humble fruit papaya in its rawest form can tenderise any stubborn meat
Growing up in remote parts of Odisha got me close to the local and native cooking rituals. Cooking was never considered a challenging task for the natives. Even if one ends up in a culinary mishap, someone will have a tip to rescue. One of my first encounters with such events was when we were out on a community picnic. The star dish of the soiree was a typical mutton curry with big chunks of potatoes. But despite cooking for a long time, the mutton was stubborn to tenderize. Hunger pangs were almost hitting us; this is when the eldest woman among the group added some chunks of peeled raw papaya. And the mutton had to submit to her culinary prowess.
Taking a note from that incident, later, I did my research. As weird as it might sound to many of you, raw papaya has the power to tenderise the most unmalleable meat. Papaya is a fantastic natural meat tenderiser. Use papaya (ripe or unripe) on tough slices of red meat. The fruit's enzymes, especially, Papain, can assist in breaking down the collagen, resulting in a soft steak.
Different meat types, Image Source: Unsplash
Pick the right one
It would help if you chose a green or uncooked papaya to produce a papaya meat tenderiser. This is crucial! The interior of green papayas is a hard, the inner white fruit flesh represents the rawness. The amount of Papain in papaya increases with its greenness and rawness. It also creates an effective paste that will supple the hard meat slices.
Prepare with purée
Peel off the skin, cut the raw papaya in half, and then scoop out the seeds to use. Now prepare a purée. Spread it over the meat, let it sit in the fridge for three hours, then scrape off the puree and cook the meat. The papaya paste on the meat works quickly and is quite simple to apply.
Raw papaya, Image Source: fruitpeople.com
If you don't want to use the paste form, the alternative can be adding bigger chunks of raw papaya while cooking the meat. The raw papaya is neutral in taste and doesn't alter the flavour of the meat dish. While serving, you can discard the papaya pieces.
Rules to remember while using raw papaya