Every time I see raw papayas in our neighbourhood vegetable shop, I am reminded of a salad that used to be a hot favourite with our family in Ahmedabad. This raw papaya salad would be served with popular Gujarati snacks like fafda, cholafali, and khaman, and its crunchiness would make it a perfect accompaniment for them. On my last visit to the sabziwallah‘s, I picked up a raw papaya to make salad with.
Raw papaya spoils easily, so you must use it within a day or so of buying it, ideally. I made the salad the very next day, which turned out delicious. A wave of love and affection for Gujarat hit me anew, as we had it with rotis for lunch. 🙂
Here is how I made it.
Ingredients (serves 2 as a single side dish):
1 medium-sized raw papaya
2 green chillies
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Sugar, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida
A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves
- Peel the papaya, cut it into two, and remove all the seeds. Grate the papaya, not too finely, with slightly large shavings. Keep aside.
- Remove the tops from the green chillies. Slit them length-wise. Keep aside.
- Chop the coriander leaves finely. Keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the asafoetida.
- Now, add the grated papaya and the slit green chillies. Let it cook on a high flame for a couple of minutes.
- Add the salt, sugar, and red chilli powder to taste, as well as the turmeric. Mix well.
- Cover and cook on a medium flame for a couple of minutes, stirring intermittently. Do not let the papaya cook overly – it needs to be slightly raw for it to retain its crunchiness.
- Turn off the gas, and add the finely chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.
As you can see, the salad is something that can be whipped up in a matter of mintues. Once you have the raw papaya grated and ready, it is almost done! This can be served either warm or cold, though not chilled. Though this salad is typically served with Gujarati snacks, it goes well with rotis and parathas too, as a side dish.
Some people like adding coriander seeds along with the mustard to the tadka. I avoid that because I don’t like the feeling of biting into the coriander seeds. If you want to, you can go ahead and add them. Similarly, I avoid adding a dash of lemon juice to the salad, once it is ready, which some Gujaratis like doing. If you want to do that too, you may.
Raw papaya is supposed to be a hot food, inducing warmth into your system. It is a much-loved dish during chilly winters, for the very same reason. Pregnant women and those with a high amount of body warmth are, commonly, forbidden from eating dishes that use raw papaya. If you do decide to make this dish, please do use your discretion! And, as always, whenever you make it, please don’t forget to tell me how it turned out.
Also, I know a lot of people who find papaya gross – they can’t stand the smell of it. I, myself, am one of those people. But then, raw papayas are something else altogether. I would urge you to try out this salad, for instance, before you give upon papayas altogether!
This salad is different from the Thai-style raw papaya salad, something I am yet to try out. Judging by how much I like this salad, I guess I will love that one, too. Malayalees make a few dishes using raw papayas too, and I would love to try those out too, sometime.
Have you ever tried out this dish? How did you like it?