Papaya trees usually have no branches, there’s just the one tuft of leaves on top, with the flowers and fruits dangling below. And in all the papaya trees I’ve seen, once that crop of papaya is over, the trunk will turn limp, wither and fall over. End of papaya tree.
By some freak of nature, though, we have a branched papaya tree that’s producing flowers and fruit on all its branches.
Maybe this is a ‘naati’ or country variety (non hybrid). It certainly has a very country consistency and taste, not like those firm pink ones you get from the solo papaya trees. I hope the fruit from the lower branches will be more sophisticated. More likely, though, we’ll get resigned to squishy papayas.
In an effort to get firmer fruit, we pick it a bit raw, and try to cut it when it’s just ripe. Last week, I misjudged and peeled one to find it was too raw to eat. So I decided to turn it into a chutney.
Raw papaya chutney is something I’ve been dreaming of. In Anand, Gujarat, there used to be this chain of dhokla shops called Yogesh Khaman that sold the most delectable dhokla, accompanied by a raw papaya chutney. I still drool thinking about it. I’ve tried reproducing that chutney several times, but the results weren’t quite what I was aiming at. But this time, somehow, it turned out great!
We had it with methi parathas, and it was gone in the blink of an eye! That is, before I could get a picture of the plated delicacy.
The best part is, it’s really simple to make. Here’s the recipe.
Raw Papaya Chutney
Raw papaya – 1
Chillies or Capsicum (I use capsicum as my family likes their food mild) – to taste
Cooking oil (I used groundnut) – 5-6 tbsps. (Note: more is better!)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Asafoetida powder – a pinch
Coriander leaves, chopped – 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
Grate the papaya and chop the capsicum/ chillies fine. Heat the oil in a kadhai, toss in the mustard seeds and wait till they crackle. Add the asafoetida and the capsicum / chillies, fry for a minute and then add the grated papaya and salt. Stir fry on a high flame for two more minutes. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve with dhokla or parathas.