Foreign Flavours – The Comoros: Papayes vertes au gratin

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I struggled finding exciting recipes for the Comoro Islands/the Comoros (but not the Comoros Islands). That is, until I started Googling in French. BOOM! A whole new world!

I went for a green papaya gratin from La Comorienne, even though the recipe had pictures of a regular (fully matured) papaya. Meh.

For an African dish, this tasted surprisingly European, mostly resembling mashed potato + a béchamel sauce. That’s probably why my wife loved this so much. 😉

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This would ideally be served alongside a chicken/meat dish, but we had it as a stand-alone dinner.
PAPAYES VERTES AU GRATIN (original French recipe at La Comorienne)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 green papayas
  • 350ml milk
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 5 sprigs of parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 125g grated Gruyère
  • 5 spring onions
  • 1 shallot
  • a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • oil
  • salt & pepper

METHOD

  1. Wash and quarter the papayas. Remove the seeds (The original recipe didn’t mention this, but I’m guessing you don’t want to be left with a mouthful of peppery papaya seeds when you bite into this, do you?). Boil in salted water for 20 minutes. Drain.
  2. Peel the boiled papayas and pass them through a passe-vite/food mill (whatever you call it). Drain well. (In all honesty, I blitzed mine in a blender.)
  3. Finely chop the spring onions, shallot, parsley and garlic. Fry in a bit of oil along with the sprigs of thyme.
  4. Add the papaya purée and mix well.
  5. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and pour in the milk, before adding salt, pepper and nutmeg. Keep stirring, bringing to the boil over a low heat until the sauce thickens somewhat.
  6. Add half of the Gruyère and pour in the sauce with the papaya mixture.
  7. Pour into an oven dish, top with the remaining Gruyère and bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.

PS: I came across a few green papaya gratin recipes in French, including one with 200g of lardons. Lardons. Really? They seemed like a stretch in my African state of mind, so I went with this recipe instead.

 

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