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.
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
Jaggery powder 2 tsps
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
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.