Pawpaw Curry with Lolo is an Indian inspired recipe of the South Pacific Fiji Islands, made with green papaya and coconut cream.
Pawpaw Curry with Lolo
By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
Pawpaw curry with lolo is my recipe of the day with the blogging group #EattheWorld. Each month we explore cuisines from a new and different country around the globe. The selection for March is for Fiji, a large set of islands in the South Pacific.
Recipe adapted from Khana Kakana : A Taste of Fiji by Nazia Ali
I was really happy to come across this idea for a curry since I had only made green papaya salad before and cooking it turns out a bit different.
What’s a Pawpaw?
Pawpaw is, in fact, what people in the southern hemisphere refer to as green papaya. In the United States, pawpaw is a different kind of fruit that grows in the Appalachian region as well as I think Florida, and is unrelated. Want to see my Appalachian Pawpaw Muffins Recipe? If you are only familiar with the green papaya version of pawpaw you might find it interesting.
You might notice a couple of dings on the outside but this was not an indication of being overripe. I think it just just bruised in transport, but was otherwise fine after peeling.
White Interior with White Seeds
Green papaya are easy to peel and have a texture similar to uncooked potato. Just use a spoon to scrape out those seeds. After that it chops up easily.
Taste Just Like Lolo
Lolo is another term for coconut cream, which is the thick buttery stuff that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk. You can buy cans of coconut cream but they will still be a bit milky, although not quite as much as coconut milk.
This type of curry is Indian in nature, because much of the food on Fiji has it’s roots in those who have transplanted there from India. I think there is also a bit of Maori influence on the island as well.
Indian or Fijian?
I decided on this type of recipe as I said, because cooking green papaya is new to me, and the other recipes I researched for this region were more like ones I have already made for India. I thought the pawpaw might make it seem more island in sense, but as it turns out, this curry too is made on the Indian continent. At least I have not seen it served in restaurants here.
About Green Papaya
The green papaya is very much unripe- as it does ripen it turns orange and the seeds in the center turn black. I had two green papaya, one has a bit of a blush in the flesh but that was okay. The other was totally white. It doesn’t matter as long as they are not fully ripe. I don’t think a nice ripe papaya is going to stand up to cooking, so it’s probably best to squirt it with some lime juice and enjoy the fruit for breakfast.
The curry reminds me of an aloo potato curry, except it does have a fruity character to it. The overall flavor is not unlike the addition of fruits like pineapple to a Malaysian curry, although the pawpaw does not taste like pineapple.
Check out all the wonderful South Pacific Fijian recipes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Palatable Pastime: Pawpaw Curry with Lolo (You are Here!)
Making Miracles: Lolo Buns
Dinner By Dennis: Palusami
Sneha’s Recipe: No Oil Or Butter Fijian Coconut Bread
CulturEatz: Kokoda, a Fijian Coconut Milk Ceviche
Pandemonium Noshery: Fijian Banana Cake with Dates and Coconut
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Fijian Creamy Lentil Soup (Dhal)
Kitchen Frau: Spiced Sweet Potato and Banana Salad
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Kokoda
Pawpaw Curry with Lolo
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Pawpaw Curry with Lolo
Pawpaw Curry with Lolo
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3-3.5 pounds green papaya
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper or cayenne
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup canned coconut cream
- 1-2 chopped green Thai chillies
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Peel green papaya and remove seeds. Dice into chunks and set aside.
- Heat coconut oil in a large skillet and add the mustard and cumin seeds plus the garlic and allow to sizzle and become fragrant.
- Add the onion and cook until onion browns lightly.
- Stir in the papaya and spices along with the water.
- Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the papaya softens. I've described the raw papaya texture to be like potato- similarly, it should have the texture of cooked potato when it is done. Time might vary depending on the size of chunks.
- Stir in the coconut cream and heat briefly.
- Garnish with chopped chillies and fresh cilantro.
- Serve with steamed rice.
That salad looks so bright and fresh! The little bit of heat from the peppers must really make it pop. I’ve never used cooked papaya before either and am really curious to try this. Thanks for the recipe!
Yes but this is not the salad. This is a cooked curry.
My mistake – it looks delicious anyway!
I mentioned my salad in the post and planted the seeds of craving. LOL! Happens to everyone.
What’s the advantage of using unripe papaya? I always wondered that.
The green papaya is very firm, like an uncooked potato. Think of it like the times you may have cut into an under ripe cantaloupe that was very hard versus one that was juicy and soft. The papaya is the same way. In a som tum salad, the papaya is crisp, not unlike raw salad veggies. In this curry, it softens up, like potato in an aloo curry. It is all edible, soft or raw, just in some applications a certain texture is preferred.
This looks wonderful – I can almost smell it simmering!
The aroma isn’t fruity at all- very much curry. It does have the slightest taste of fruit, but nothing like the fruity taste pf ripe papaya.
Interesting! I did not think those were the same fruit. I know they are related, but I’ve never heard that they were one in the same. Great recipe. I normally only use green papaya in a salad. Can’t wait to try and cook with it.
There are a couple different kinds of papaya but both kinds will be green papaya when they are unripe. The difference with the ripe is that one is yellow and the other deep orange, but the green papaya is white and the seeds will also be white but those gain color as they ripen.
What a perfect meal, coconut based curry with coconut buns, yum yum Sue!
I have never worked with green papaya. This is an interesting dish. I’ll keep it in mind for a side dish at our next dive party.
I tried with coconut milk and it was great! Followed your recipe.
I made this recipe tonight because I had a papaya that wouldn’t ripen even after weeks. Finally out of frustration I went to the interwebs and did a search for green papaya recipes since I see them all the time at my Asian market. As soon as I found your recipe I was like wow yes that looks amazing! I made the recipe tonight and it was absolutely incredible. I loved the flavor of the raw papaya and loved the curry! Thank you!
I’m thrilled that you loved this! Thanks so much! <3