I was introduced to this amazing salad by my cousin Seema and her husband Naveen Anna when they were visiting us during the summer of 2012. They are both die-hard foodies and my cousin is a great cook herself! She has this quote " I can never lose weight because I love my own cooking!" I have learnt a few things from her. She is big on aesthetics and presentation. When she chops vegetables, they all have to look a certain way and each one should look like the next one! Anyways, coming back to my salad, during their visit we went to this very nice Thai restaurant Sripraphai and she ordered the raw papaya salad for me. I just fell in love with it! Ever since then I have been wanting to make it. While there are several ways to make it and several recipes for this on the internet, the best I liked is the one on the website Thai food tonight. I followed their recipe with slight tweaking of my own. The traditional green papaya salad also known as Som Tum calls for only fish sauce but I didn't want to overpower the salad with it, hence also used a little bit of soy sauce. I have also used a little bit of olive oil in my dressing. I believe that it gives it a nice taste. The traditional recipe does not call for the addition of any kind of oil. I have added fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. Also the entire salad is made using a mortar and pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle you could finely chop the garlic and chilly and lightly pound the ingredients on your cutting board and then mix it in a mixing bowl. You can find the original recipe here.
Green papaya: 1 medium
Tomatoes: 1 medium sliced lengthwise
Green chillies: 2-3 medium
Garlic: 2 cloves, medium sized, peeled.
Jaggery: 1 tbsp
Lime juice: from 1 lime
Fish sauce: 2-3tbsp
Olive oil: 2tbsp
Soy sauce: 1tbsp
Green beans( string beans): 1 cup chopped into 1 inch pieces.
Roasted Peanuts: 1/2 cup crushed lightly
Cilantro leaves: 1 tbsp chopped
Mint leaves: 1 tbsp chopped
Peel the papaya and shred it.Discard the inner core with seeds.
Keep the shredded papaya aside.
Boil 2 cups of water with 1 tsp salt. Add the chopped beans and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Strain and keep aside.
In a mortar, lightly crush the garlic and the green chillies.
Garnish with steamed green beans and roasted chopped peanuts.
Note:Make sure that the papaya is green and raw. If it is even a little yellow/ripe, the taste of the entire salad changes!
Cooking made easy:
Use different cutting boards for your vegetables and meat/fish. You can even color code them. I have a wooden one for my veggies and a plastic one for fish/meat. Doing this helps prevent cross-contamination.
Tip for healthy living:
Papayas are fruits that are extremely nutrient-dense. The Mayans apparently worshipped the papaya tree as their sacred " Tree of Life". Both raw and ripe papayas have been found to be beneficial for good health. Papayas are rich in antioxidants, vitamins A & C and have an enzyme called papain. Papain helps breakdown proteins and aid in their digestion and thereby the health of our gut. It is also purported to have significant anti inflammatory properties thereby of great benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions and joint pain.
Food for thought:
If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. ( Unknown).