I was a very fussy eater growing up. I remember sitting at the table for hours together trying to finish my paneer or rajma or baingan(eggplant) or paalak (spinach)! Apart from fish curry, eggs and potatoes I pretty much detested everything from the bottom of my heart. Meetha of all kinds (dessert) of course was an exception. That I could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anyhow, coming back to my tryst with the dining table, you might wonder why would I sit there for hours ? Simply because I was not allowed to leave the table unless the plate was wiped clean. Every time I sat there nauseated at the sight of any vegetables, my father would relate his Tomato Tale. What Tomato Tale you would ask next? So, here it goes, in my father’s own words:
“Dekho beta (my dear child)! When I was your age I hated tomatoes and spinach. I just could not stand the sight , let alone their taste! However I did not give up on them. I just told myself I am going to pretend I am eating a bitter medicine and swallow them without thinking too much about their taste. And you know what! Today I love tomatoes and spinach.”
I found the story as unpalatable as the veggies themselves , however, the strict disciplinarian my Dad was, he kind of lived by the rule- My way or highway! So, what choice did a six year old me have but to follow orders and imagine I was gobbling down a bowlful of halwa while chewing a repulsive hodgepodge of paalak-paneer.
But turns out my father (like most parents) knew a thing or two about psychology and growing up. I in fact love paneer and rajma now and propagate the (non-existential) benefits of eating baingan (eggplant) like it is the one true love of my life! And what more, I relate the same story to my children where the protagonist tomato has been replaced with paneer (which ironically is my children’s favourite )!
If I have to be honest, I have a much easier job at hand- I was an abysmal eater compared to my kids who more or less eat everything that is served to them. But I do have days when I have to bribe them with dessert or just glower really hard to get food polished off their plates. If I have to be very honest again, this papaya stir fry fell in the latter category. But to my defence, isn’t it an important life lesson? Not everything served on the plate called life will make you happy and when it doesn’t , you just need to suck it up and get on with it in hope of better and happier things!
Well, raw papaya is loaded with nutrition and it was called “the fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus for a reason. And I do not mind being the Mean Mom to get my kids to eat them once in a while. As for the adults, this recipe might convert convert the greatest Papaya haters! It is really quick and easy to put together and tickles your taste buds like no other ‘coz it is sweet, spicy and sour all at the same time. Great with hot phulkas and some moong daal. Perfect weeknight dinner as it is so light on the tummy!
- Raw Papaya, cubed-2 cups
- Onion, chopped fine- 3/4 cup
- Garlic, chopped fine- 1.5 tsp
- Ginger, coarsely grated- 1 tsp
- Black Mustard seeds-1 tsp
- Saunf or Fennel seeds-1 tsp
- Coriander powder-1.5 tsp
- Amchoor or dry mango powder- 1.5 tsp
- Hing or asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
- Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
- Red Chilli powder- 1 tsp or as per taste
- Powdered jaggery- 1 tbsp
- Sprouted Moong- 2 tbsp
- Lime juice-1 tbsp
- Rock salt or regular salt-1/2 tsp
- Peanut Chutney Powder or crushed roasted peanuts- 1 tbsp or as per taste
- Salt- As per taste
- Green chilies, chopped fine- 2 or as per taste
- Vegetable Oil- 2 tbsp
- Par-boil the cubed raw papaya and keep aside
- Wash the moong sprouts well and in a bowl mix lime juice and rock salt with the sprouts and keep aside
- In a wok heat some oil, reduce the heat to medium-low and to it add turmeric powder, mustard and fennel seeds and sauté until they start to crackle
- Then add chopped onion and cook for a minute followed by garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so till the onions are translucent
- Next add coriander powder, red chilli powder and sauté for another minute
- To above add the par boiled papaya and give it a nice mix , then add powdered jaggery, amchoor, green chilies and salt; keeping the flame low, cover and cook for a minute or two
- The papaya should have cooked through and absorbed the masalas by now; turn off the heat and add the moong sprouts prepared earlier along with the peanut chutney powder or crushed peanuts
- Serve right away with hot fulkas and daal