Try this Palakkad style Raw Papaya Kootu or Molagootal, which is a mix of cooked raw papayas and tur dal. A freshly ground spice paste adds much flavour to the dish.
As I had a bounty harvest of green papayas from the tree that needed to be taken down, I messaged my neighbours asking if anyone wanted to take some. I was happy that quite a few neighbours came forward to take on the offer of raw papayas. I casually asked one of my neighbours what she planned to make with the raw papaya and she said ‘Molagootal’.
Molagootal is a dish that is very popular in the Palakkad cuisine of Kerala, which borders Tamil Nadu. While my family does not hail from Palakkad, we follow quite a few of their dishes like Avial, Olan, Molagootal, Kootan etc. by virtue of the geographic closeness of Tirunelveli to Kerala. Most of them have a use of coconut, and spices like cumin, pepper corns, highlighting the local produce of Kerala.
While Keerai Molagootal is my all time favourite, I had no clue that the same could be prepared using Raw Papaya. Another neighbour, also of Palakkad origins said that she intended to make avial, that turns out delicious with the addition of raw papaya instead of ash gourd. For avial, the usual mix of vegetables like elephant yam, carrot, plantains, potatoes can be added along with similarly julienned raw papaya along with the standard coconut-cumin seed-green chilli spice paste for a simple and quick dish. I decided to prepare the raw papaya molagootal this time. Kootu / kootaan/ molagootal, all have a similar process of grinding a spice paste using roasted spices like cumin, black pepper, red chillies along with coconut, and then added to a mix of cooked dal and cooked vegetable (or mashed greens of choice). You’ll find recipes for Keerai Molagootal and Pudalangai (Snake Gourd) kootu on my blog.
Video: How to make cabbage kootu
Best way to eat raw papaya kootu or any other variety of molagootal for that matter is with steaming hot rice, ghee, a sliver of lemon pickle and a roasted papad. My mom also makes a zingy raita made from ground baby mangoes in brine (vadumanga) or a banana raita that is an excellent accompaniment to kootu and rice.
Try out these other Raw Papaya Recipes too:
Raw Papaya Kootu
- 1 small raw papaya
- 1/2 tsp turmeric divided
- 1/2 tsp salt divided
- 1/2 cup tur dal
for spice paste
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp black pepper corns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 dried red chillies Bedgi
- 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut or desiccated
- 1 flake tamarind size of a 1 rupee coin
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp urad dal
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- Peel the raw papaya and immerse in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. This is to make it easier to cut without all the sap sticking to the fingers. Remove and cut into a 1 cm dice. Boil the diced raw papaya in 2 cups of water with salt and turmeric for 15 minutes, until cooked, but not mushy. Alternatively, place in a pressure cooker with 1 cup water with salt and turmeric and pressure cook for 1 whistle.
- Pressure cook tur dal with 1.5 cups water and pinch of turmeric. Mash well and keep aside.
- For spice paste, heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Fry pepper, cumin, red chillies until cumin splutters. Add coconut and lightly toast for 1 minute on low flame along with tamarind piece. Remove all this into a mixer jar when cool. Add 1/4 cup water and grind to a fine paste.
- In a cooking pan, combine the mashed cooked dal, cooked raw papaya pieces and the freshly ground spice paste. Season with 1/4 tsp salt or more and bring to a simmer. Thin with a little water to get a pouring consistency of kootu. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Prepare the tempering by heating coconut oil in a small pan or a tadka ladle. Add the red chillies, mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds splutter, transfer this over the prepared kootu.
- Serve hot with rice and ghee.