Papaya, or malagaw in Thai, is another imported fruit that has found a key place in Thai cuisine. The tree was first described by a Spanish chronicler name Oviedo in 1526 as found along the coasts of present day Panama and Columbia. The abundant seeds of the fruit are viable for up to three years, which allowed the fruit to be easily spread throughout the tropics. By the end of the sixteenth century the Spanish and Portuguese had spread the papaya to their colonies in India, Malacca and the Philippines.


A large cluster of papayas ripening on a tree

Papaya are rich in vitamins A and C as well as potassium. The skin as well as the core of the green fruit is rich in a protein-digesting enzyme called papain. It makes a very good natural meat tenderizer and is much used in Thailand, especially on local beef which traditionally has been quite tough. However, it's over-use results in the meat taking on a rubbery texture that can be quite odd in the mouth.

The papaya tree can look a little like a palm and grows to about eight meters (26 feet) tall. It grows easily in Thailand's tropical climate, and you will often see trees sprouting up around construction sites and compost heaps. The leaves can be quite large and are deeply lobed. The fruit is quite large, about the size and shape of musk melons. The meat of the ripe fruit is dark orange and like melons or squash, at the center is a cluster of loosely connected black seeds the size of peas.

Some find the smell of papaya a little objectionable, and it is common practice the squeeze a bit of lime juice onto the fruit to kill the smell before eating.


Weight Information
1 cup 1" pieces 145.0 g
1 cup, mashed 230.0 g
1 fruit, small 157.0 g
1 fruit, large 781.0 g
Nutritional Information for 1 cup 1" pieces
Energy 62.35
Protein 0.6815 20.000 3%
Total lipid (fat) 0.377 65.000 1%
Carbohydrate, by difference 15.689 300.000 5%
Fiber, total dietary 2.465 25.000 10%
Calcium, Ca 29 1000.000 3%
Iron, Fe 0.3625 18.000 2%
Magnesium, Mg 30.45 400.000 8%
Phosphorus, P 14.5 1000.000 1%
Potassium, K 263.9 3500.000 8%
Sodium, Na 11.6 2400.000 0%
Zinc, Zn 0.116 15.000 1%
Copper, Cu 0.06525 2.000 3%
Manganese, Mn 0.058 2.000 3%
Selenium, Se 0.87 70.000 1%
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 88.305 60.000 147%
Thiamin 0.03335 1.500 2%
Riboflavin 0.03915 1.700 2%
Niacin 0.51765 20.000 3%
Pantothenic acid 0.27695 10.000 3%
Vitamin B-6 0.0551 2.000 3%
Folate, total 53.65 400.000 13%
Folate, food 53.65 400.000 13%
Carotene, beta 397.3
Carotene, alpha 2.9
Vitamin A, IU 1377.5 5000.000 28%
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 0.435
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 3.77 80.000 5%
Fatty acids, total saturated 0.11745 20.000 1%
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.1044
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.0841