Thursday, December 15, 2011

Malabar Spinach Curry with Coconut & Papaya (Vaali Papayi Ambat)

If there is one curry I can eat for breakfast, dinner and lunch, its got to be Vaali Ambat. Incidentally, my husband also loves this Ambat. Vaali is the Konkani term for Malabar Spinach also known as Basale Soppu (Kannada), Pui Shaak (Bengali). Adding unripe Papaya adds a different dimension to the dish taking the flavour a notch higher.

Vaali Papayi Ambat

Growing up, Ma made cooked Vaali with Raw Papaya also known as Papashphala in Konkani. Interestingly, we make use of the leaves (paan) and the tender stems (dentu). Ambat is a Konkani curry which typically is made with Gourds, Vegetables and Lentils and has a seasoning of fried onions which offers a unique taste to the dish. The days when she made this curry without Raw Papaya, I refused to eat it. So every time when my parents went for shopping, they made sure there was Spinach with Papaya. So much just to make a little girl happy! I also realise today as a woman that only your parents would understand your quirks and pamper you and make every wish of yours their command. Even last time when I visited India, Ma made these and Dad made sure he found the finest Papaya in the market.

An unripe Papaya on the tree

The trick for this recipe is to bung all of it on in a large pressure cooker and let the cooker to do the job for you. Place all the vegetables and lentils in the order of boiling point which means the one which takes longer to cook goes in first. So throw the lentils, Vaali (Dentu), Papaya (peeled and chopped), Vaali (leaves chopped) and last but not the least onions (chopped). I like this curry a lot and enjoy a bowl of this curry with great elan!

~ Vaali Papayi Ambat ~
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Malabar Spinach (Vaali) [Leaves and stem] - 6 cups
Raw Unripe Papaya (peeled and chopped) - 2 cups
Toor Dal (washed, rinsed and soaked) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

For Masala -
Grated coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
Red Chillies (Byadgi) - 5-7
Tamarind (pulp) - 1/ tsp

For Seasoning -
Onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup

Peel and dice Papaya into bite sized cubes. Wash, clean the leaves and stem of Spinach. Drain off the water and chop the leaves and tender stems. Roast red chillies with a teaspoon of oil on low flame for couple of minutes. Once cool, grind to a fine paste with grated coconut and tamarind pulp. In a pressure cooker, add the washed lentils, Spinach stem, Papaya, Spinach leaves and Onions (1/2 cup). Cook upto 4 whistles and allow to cool. Bring the boiled lentils and vegetables to a boil, add the ground masala and adjust water, salt as per taste. Add Turmeric powder and once the curry is cooked, turn off flame. In a separate pan, heat a few spoons of oil, fry the chopped onions till they turn reddish brown. Pour this seasoning on the curry and mix well. Cover with a lid and serve warm with cooked white rice.


  1. i like this curry very much. I am mangalorean , settled in singapore. Now also i will cook basale soppu with raw papaya

    1. @ Dhanya Gopal -
      Thank you. I love to hear from my readers.

      I like this combination a lot. Its a very tasty and nutritious dish.


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