Vegetarian Thai Papaya Salad

Raw Papaya Salad is a delicious dish available at all Thai restaurants and a favourite with most patrons. The mix of hot chillies with garlic, shrimps, tamarind paste and fish sauce makes for a riot of flavour, very pleasing to the palate. I have tried to make a vegetarian raw papaya salad that offers the taste without the shrimps and the fish sauce.

Ingredients

Raw papaya 1 small

Tomato 1 medium

Garlic 3 cloves

Chillies 6-7, really hot ones

Fresh cowpea (lobiya) 2-3, roughly broken into 2” pieces

Soy sauce 1 tsp

Olive oil 1 tsp

Rock salt to taste

Peanuts 1/2 cup, roasted

Cashew nuts 10, roasted

Tamarind pulp 1 tbsp

Lemon 1

Jaggery powder 2 tsps

Method

Peel and slice the papaya into thin strips. I cut it the way the Thais do by scoring and slicing the papaya. You can follow this video to learn how to do it right

https://youtu.be/Wvv0dqZ_xa4

Soak the sliced papaya in iced water for 15 minutes. Drain. This will make the papaya crunchy.

Crush the garlic and rock salt in a wide mortar and pestle. Add the chillies to the mortar. I used the Indian Bird’s Eye chilli, known as Kanthari in Kerala. In Singapore, I used Cili Padi. The spiciness of the chilli gives the salad its special flavour and a kick.

Add the soy sauce and olive oil to the garlic and chilli in the mortar. Add the jaggery and the tamarind pulp. I soak a lump of tamarind the size of a small lemon in some water overnight and squeeze out the pulp and use it.

Add the drained papaya to the mortar and pound gently.

Cut the tomato into thick wedges. Add the cowpea and tomato to the mortar and pound gently to get out the juices of the vegetables.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the salad. Add the lemon skin too and pound gently. Toss well and then remove the lemon skin from the salad and throw it away.

Add the crushed peanuts and cashew nuts and toss well.

Serve with garlic bread or cheese toast.

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