Bali Bliss Papaya Salad

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Bali is bliss. It’s not hard to believe we’ve already been here for a couple weeks, as I’ve clearly sunken into a new, slower rhythm and just allowing the days to unfold at their languid pace. I haven’t been this relaxed in…well, I can’t even remember when to be honest. It feels amazing to not have a schedule to follow, to not have any major deadlines looming, no calls to answer. I’ve had to travel halfway across planet earth to find this solace, but I also don’t mind being surrounded by tropical jungle, dazzling green rice fields, rivers, and volcanoes, and sparkling starry skies.

Bali has a kind of beauty to it, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It is rich, mesmeric, mysterious. Everywhere you go, you are greeted with wafts of burning incense, floral offerings, and the sounds of flowing water. Spirituality and everyday life are intertwined, and god seems to be truly in the details.

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The food? As wonderful as it is to eat at restaurants (don’t do much of that in Copenhagen), I’ve actually been cooking a lot. Surprise! We’ve rented a house with a rather makeshift, but functioning kitchen, and the one-burner hot plate and I have become well acquainted during my experiments with all of the local produce. My family and I head out around 7am to the morning market, and for pennies fill our bags with all sorts of unusual fruits and veggies, then head home to play with it all.

The other groovy thing about where we are staying is the front yard full of fruit trees and coconut palms. There are papaya growing – no, bulging – off of their trunks. Fruit larger then my six-month-old baby (and he’s a big boy). The housekeeper picked one for me upon my request and it sat ripening on my counter for a couple days until I knew it was time. Total. Bliss-fest. You couldn’t take me to the fanciest restaurant and see me more excited than eating that silly, homegrown papaya. Truly.

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As much as papaya is perfect all on its own, the flavours around me beg to be enjoyed. This was a simple breakfast I tossed together with fresh ingredients I had just picked up at the market: kaffir lime, ginger, and freshly grated coconut (wow, nothing like it!). It is all together sweet, citric, spicy and rich – a delicious combination for starting your day on the right foot, or maybe an afternoon pick-me-up.

Papaya Paradise Party
Papaya are buttery, rich, satisfying, and a delicious taste of the tropics, but are available in most grocery stores throughout the year.

Papayas contain a cornucopia of nutrients, its most unique being papain. Papain is a digestive enzyme that helps digest proteins, similar to the bromelain found in pineapple. If you take digestive supplements, yours will likely contain papain.

Papaya is rich in antioxdants, such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavanoids, folic and pantothenic acid, as well as the minerals copper, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients all add up to major cardiovascular protection, due to their ability to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Papaya’s vitamins, minerals and antioxidants also provide immune support, promote digestive health, and protect against macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis.

Much like bananas, papaya contains a substance called chitinase, which is associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. If you have a latex allergy, you should avoid eating papaya (and banana too).

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If you cannot find kaffir limes, regular lime would be fine of course. Kaffir limes tend to be smaller, so if you are using regular lime, just one would likely be enough for the recipe below. And if you can’t get yourself to a Balinese market and have someone grind your coconut for you this morning, no worries, just use shredded desiccated coconut in its place. You can even lightly toast it if your heart desires.

The recipe for this salad is rather loose. I’ve added some rough measurements, but the dressing here depends greatly on the size of your papaya, so just use the ingredients below as a guideline and make the dish to suit your taste. If you like a more citric flavour, go heavy on the limejuice; if you like it spicy, add more ginger, etc. I also drizzled in some local virgin coconut oil, which had the most incredible coconut taste, but this is entirely up to you. Keep in mind that the fat in the coconut and coconut oil will only help in absorbing the carotenes in the papaya.
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This salad is just a little warm-up here – I thought a slow work up to the more complicated and technique-intensive dishes I plan on making would be best. For now, it’s time to just relax and enjoy the simple and blissful flavours of Bali, unwind, breathe. Find a corner of your home to curl up with this dish, light a stick of incense and drift away on a papaya cloud…I’ll meet you in paradise.

24 comments

  1. Tanja

    Sarah – some blog posts are just too achingly lovely and inspiring and wonderful to read all at once… your Bali updates are really unbearably lovely. I’m so happy to have found you through my sister M. Thanks for sharing the joy you take in all around you with such ease and elegance.

  2. Franziska

    I just made this salad, added some turmeric to the dressing, just on a whim. Enjoyed it on my deck in – finally sunny eastern Canada. I swear, my maples looked like palm trees while I ate the salad! Thanks!

  3. Ishita

    Hello Sarah,

    I wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.

    Participation is optional, but if you do want to participate here is the link to find out more: http://kookycookyng.com/2014/05/14/versatile-blogger-award/

    Hope you decide to take part. If you choose to participate then post the award badge on your blog, share seven things about yourself and nominate 15 other bloggers.

    Cheers
    Ishita

  4. Pingback: Food Love - A Cookie Named Desire
  5. Kate

    Do you surf? Bali is supposed to have great waves. I love papaya but it is so hard to find good ones in the states, at least on the east coast (I was spoiled by Hawaii). It’s difficult to tell which ones will be duds, in my experience. Any tips?

  6. Michelle @LALLnutrition

    Mmm the papaya looks amazing! I totally get the waiting for them to be perfectly ripened :) I ate tons and tons of papaya in Puerto Rico last year but you have rekindled my love. Too bad I’m not in Bali to taste the fruit right off the tree ;) I’ll have to head to the local grocer to pick one up. Bali is definitely on my list & you are obviously you’re having a fabulous time – enjoy the relaxation!

    ~M

  7. Darcel

    The people of Bali are as wonderful and nurturing as the land and food.
    Your Bali salad reminds me of the breakfast I had at my little hotel every morning, sitting in a garden of tropical flowers, a stream flowing in the gully below.

  8. Vera@growntocook

    Sometimes it is necessary to put some distance between yourself and your every day surroundings to recharge. We are in Normandy this week for the same reasons and although the scenery, food and weather is very different from Bali, the effect is similar :-) Have a great time with your family!

  9. Denise Watson

    The photos are simply amazing, look forward to more. I am for sure going to make this, my mouth is watering just looking at it. Enjoy and thank you for sharing your solitude:))

  10. Mia

    Bali is indeed an incredible place but for those who can’t afford a trip to Bali and who are searching to find a place where time is no issue, where you can live in and with nature, where silence and peace is key, do come to my place in Andalucia (Spain) where I rent cave houses. You can’t imagine how peaceful it is here, we have an a-location with a stunning view on the mountains, the village, the wood. You can walk or bike for hours without meeting a living soul except maybe the pastor with his sheeps and goats. There is a natural swimming pool where you can swim amongst the fishes and there is much more. Interested? Cueva Don Pablo in Orce. I have no website but I’ll send all info and pictures upon request.

    • Sarah

      Yes please do send info Mia!

      Your time in Bali sounds amazing and your fruit salad is beautiful. I love your recipes. My boyfriend is officially addicted to your recipe for “Genius Chic Pea Tofu” – I love it! My arms get a workout when I make it too :-)

    • Maren

      Dear Mia, I’d also love to receive pictures and info of Cueva Don Pablo. Sounds very good indeed! Thanks a lot.

  11. Lane | Green Spirit Adventures

    I’m so jealous, I’ve always wanted to go to Bali! I hope you and your family have an incredible trip! (And indeed, it sounds as though you already are!)
    This salad looks simply wonderful and your photos are stunning! :) It’s been a very long time since I’ve had papaya but this recipe has me craving it.

  12. Katie @ Whole Nourishment

    Such a simple pairing but one that I know it so much more than the sum of its parts, as your recipes usually are. I can almost taste the flavors in this gorgeous bowl of goodness. Love hearing about your time in Bali. Enjoy it all!

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