When contemplating a range of delicious dishes featuring raw papaya, Som Tam invariably emerges as a top choice of many. This raw papaya salad truly shines in Thai cuisine, perfecting a mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavours. Besides, green papaya (unripe papaya), the key ingredient in Som Tam, offers an array of health benefits. Moreover, it possesses a juicy, slightly crisp texture and has a neutral flavour.
Nutrients rich profile
“Green papaya contains many phytochemicals, including proteins, fats and oils, enzymes, polysaccharides, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. Papaya is low in calories and has a high amount of vitamin C,” says Eshita, a nutritionist from Delhi.
It contains two of the most powerful plant proteolytic enzymes— papain and chymopapain. These enzymes help in breaking down proteins, and fats and aid in healthy metabolism.
Eshita advises adding raw papaya to one’s high-protein diet as it contains potassium and dietary fibre. This helps in stabilising blood sugar levels and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The nutrients in it fastens the repair of damaged cells and tissues.
Raw papaya is also known for its antioxidant, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has carminative (an herb that relieves flatulence) and laxative properties. A 2021 mini review study published in Biology states that papaya counteracts oxidative stress and helps reduce inflammatory markers.
Due to its low-calorie content, digestive improvement properties, and benefits for gut health, papaya is an ideal addition in our diet. Moreover, its ample supply of vitamin C further enhances its nutritional value, contributing to our overall well-being.
Who should avoid raw papaya?
People with latex allergy and papain allergy should avoid raw green papaya. Moreover, pregnant women, people with kidney stones and hypoglycaemia should avoid adding raw papaya to their diet, says Eshita.
Now that you know its benefits, here is the green papaya salad recipe. Do try and let us know your views in the comments section.
Total time: 15 mins
- 1 small green papaya (peeled, halved, de-seeded)
- ½ bell pepper
- ½ English cucumber, diced
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tbsp powdered palm sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce/soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 10 green beans, halved crosswise
- 8 large cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 Thai red chilli with seeds, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- Salt for taste
- Pound the garlic cloves and Thai chilli in the mortar until it is a paste.
- In a bowl, add lime juice with palm sugar, sauce, and garlic. This is the dressing for the salad. Keep it aside.
- Cut the green beans in to 2-inch pieces and cook them for 5 minutes.
- Peel the green papaya into thin sticks yielding about 3 cups, and bell pepper into thin strips.
- Add the peeled papaya, bell pepper and diced English cucumber to a mixing bowl, along with the cherry tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and green beans.
- Add salt and the dressing over the salad and sprinkle some peanuts.
- Serve and enjoy.
Please note that the calorie count of a Thai papaya salad may vary based on the specific ingredients used. It is generally estimated to range between 150-200 calories.
Note: It is advisable to serve the salad immediately, as green papaya tends to wilt and release liquid over time. Allowing this to happen can dilute the flavours of the dressing and result in a soggy texture of the green papaya.