Green Papaya with coconut (Papaya thoran)

DSC_0952Green Papayas are a common vegetable in Kerala and consequently ‘Papaya thoran’ is one of many vegetable dishes in the typical Keralan household.  The Papaya fruit is a highly nutritious fruit and an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, pantothenic acid and fiber.  It also has B vitamins, alpha and beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthan, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K and lycopene, the powerful antioxidant. The possible health benefits of consuming papaya include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering blood pressure, and improving wound healing1.  Green or raw papaya is even more powerful than ripe papaya – it is full of essential nutrients and enzymes to promote digestive health. Since enzyme levels decline as the fruit ripens, green papaya retains all of its natural enzymatic qualities. Because of its amazing health benefits, green papaya is also called as a ‘super food’ 2. One word of caution – green papayas contain pepsins in their latex that may induce contractions and lead to miscarriage in pregnant women, according to a British Journal of Nutrition report3. I have heard this anecdotally too growing up in India hence I recommend that all pregnant women should avoid papayas especially green papayas.

Green PapayaI have posted other vegetable ‘thoran’ recipes before and papaya thoran also follows the same basic recipe. Steam the vegetable, add grated coconut and finally a tadka (oil seasoning) of mustard seeds, dry chillies and curry leaves in coconut oil!  Now that’s what I call simple comfort food when served with rice and dal!  I like to finely chop the green papaya pieces but I have seen some recipes where the papaya is used in grated form. You can also add 2-3 pieces of shrimp to the papaya while cooking it to get an additional flavor –  my amma used to do that all the time 🙂

In the US green papaya is not very commonly available however we get them from the Asian grocers.

Green Papaya with coconut (Papaya thoran)

  • Servings: Makes about 4 side dish portions
  • Time: About 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 3 cups, green papaya skin peeled and chopped into 1/2 ” cubes (or even smaller)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or 3 small green chillies chopped fine)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (or fresh frozen coconut that has been thawed)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 2 dry red chillies cut into half
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves


Take a medium size cooking pot and add the chopped papaya pieces to it along with the water , salt, turmeric and the chili pow (or chillies).  Place on medium heat and cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes or so until the papaya is cooked and all the water is almost gone. Then add the grated coconut and mix. Turn the heat off.

Take a small pan or a tadka pan and heat the coconut oil in it. Then add the mustard seeds and turn heat to medium and wait till the seeds splutter and then add the cumin seeds and the dry red chillies and the curry leaves and stir for about 30 seconds.  Turn the heat off and pour this oil mixture onto the pot with the cooked papaya and stir well.


While cooking the papaya, if all water is gone and papaya is still not cooked (sometimes the papaya can be hard), then add more water and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes.

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 Step wise pictures:IMG_0002

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