They say, “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. So, we shouldn’t underestimate Papaya (Betik) because it is cheap and readily available. Even, the Great Christopher Columbus once called it “The Fruit of the Angel”.
Papaya, a lycopene-rich fruit, is rich in antioxidants like carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids; the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid; and the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and fiber. Together, these nutrients protect against heart disease, macular degeneration; promote digestive and lung health; boost male virility; and produce anti-inflammatory effects (that treat causes of trauma, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and allergies).
Wow! Who needs imported fruits when we can pluck them from our backyard! May I suggest that you buy these Fruits of Angel from your local wet markets to minimise the possibility of them being coated with chemicals to prolong their 'shelf life'. I found my favourite spot buying them - a grocery shop near my baby sis' place. These medium sized papayas, wrapped in simple surat khabar lama, are naturally sweet.
I love eating them just like that. You could put a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream in their hollow belly for an interesting dessert or blend cubes of papaya in low-fat ice cream for an exotic milk shake!
Since it is rich in lycopene, just like tomatoes, maybe you could add them along in your salsa, salad and kerabu. And it's better to eat more raw food like these papayas.
Why not try Betik Masak Air? This humble kampong soupy dish is made from cooking mildly ripe papaya in plain water along with pounded ikan bilis, shallots and black pepper, fragranced with basil leaves. Serve it with hot plain rice and fried (or grilled) fish. It’s simply delicious. You could also opt for cooking them in coconut milk, to replace the water. If you look at their nutritional content, this simple dish can be beneficial for breastfeeding mothers because papaya and fish are great combination for milk production.
I once stayed in a hotel where their soaps are made from papayas - heavenly smell!
Go on. Go ga ga over this humble fruit!