A Foreign Fruit
Popular among the Thais
The Papaya (Carica Papaya) is a foreign
fruit that has become very popular among the Thai people.
Introduced into Thailand about 200 years ago at the
beginning of the present Chakri dynasty, it has been
a highly successful immigrant. It is now grown in every
town and village of this country and its fruit is enjoyed
by people in all walks of life.
great popularity may be attributed to several factors:
The plant is easy to grow; it has a high productivity;
its fruit has a good taste and is nutritious; its juice
is also valuable.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britanica, the
papaya originated in Mexico. However, it is stated in
The Diffusion of Tropical Plants and the Portuguese
Discoveries published in 1988 by the Portuguese Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, that the papaya was first found in
the Andes in South America. Anyway, it was recorded in
the Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
published by Hafner Press in 1920 that a Dutch tourist
had reported in 1771 that a Portuguese had brought papaya
seeds to the Philippines to be planted on Luzon Island.
It was from there that the fruit was spread to Malacca
is no record as to who first brought papaya seeds to Thailand
and when, though it is widely believed that it was soon
after Bangkok was set up as the new capital. Then more
and more people grew the trees, mostly in small quantities
for self-consumption. Today, there are papaya plantations
in Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Muak Lek in Saraburi and
Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima. They are an important
export fruit of Thailand, ranking in value after longans,
pineapples, durians and mangoes.
The papaya has
different local names in different parts of the country,
but is generally known as malako. The local
names are widely different from each other, including
loko, taengtan, mate and
kuaila in the South, bakuaitet in
the North, and mak-hung in the Northeast.
papaya is a dioecious plant with male and female flowers
on separate plants. However, some of the papaya plants
are monoecious. Only these monoecious plants bear fruits
that are numerous, large and delicious. The papaya fruit
contains 10% sugar, 0.5% protein, 0.1% fat, 0.1% acid,
1.3% fibres and 88% water. In addition, there are small
amounts of vitamin C, carotene and protease.
The papaya is eaten as a fruit when ripe. Some like
to add a few drops of lime juice to enrich its flavour.
It is a popular fruit for both the rich and the poor
because of its taste, nourishment and inexpensiveness.
But it should be eaten before the fruit is too much
ripened and its texture becomes too soft.
The unripe fruit is an important ingredient of a very
popular salad called som
tam, which is a mixture of sliced green papaya
with dried shrimps, fried peanut kernels, tomatoes,
palm sugar, fish sauce, bird peppers, etc., which are
pounded together to make them well mixed before eating.
ripe and unripe papayas are also made into processed
food in several ways. The fruit, leaves and roots of
the papaya tree all contain medicinal properties and
are used by Thais as herbal medicine. One of the most
useful parts of the plant is the juice from the green
fruit called papain. It is a protein-splitting enzyme
and a very good meat tenderizer and digestive aid. It
is also used in many manufacturing industries, such
as in making beer, soft drinks, medicines, leather,
soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, paper and chewing gum.
you want to try to grow a few papaya plants in your
backyard (in a tropical or subtropical area), use only
the black seeds, soak them in water for 24 hours, wash
them, remove the thin skins, and then place them in
earth holes dug at a distance of about 2-2.5 metres
from one another. Put 3-5 seeds in each hole. When the
plants grow to a height of about 20 cm., keep the strongest
one and pull up the others. If you are not in a hurry
or unable to act promptly, you should put the seeds
in a well-ventilated place for 2 or 3 days until they
are dry. Then they can be kept for 2 to 3 months in
a place with a humidity of no lower than 60%.
How to make Papaya Salad
1. 2-3 cups coarsely grated papaya
2. 2 tomatoes, sliced
3. 2-3 cloves garlic
4. 2-3 chillies, chopped
5. 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
6. 1 tablespoon ground dried shrimps
7. 1 teaspoon sugar
8. 2 tablespoons lime juice
9. 1 tablespoon fish sauce
Green beans, lettuce and cabbages
Pound the garlic and chillies into a fine paste. Add
the grated papaya, pound a little. Season with lime
juice, fish sauce and sugar. Blend in the ground dried
shrimps, grated lime rind and tomatoes.
Garnish with green beans, cabbage and lettuce. Serve with
streamed glutinous rice. Pickled field crab or chopped
roasted peanuts may be added for flavouring.