Papaya and Egg Curry

by Dr. Hennie Fisher

Papaya and Egg Curry

Many countries in the south-central Asian peninsular region, such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, make various different versions of egg curries. Where the climate allows, many of these recipes incorporate boiled green papaya. Green papaya is not something we associate with everyday South African cuisine, and therefore it is not that easy to find. For this reason, the following recipe is made with ripe papaya, which imparts a wonderful gentle fruitiness to the curry. Even though the papaya is grated, it should not cook for so long that it totally disintegrates. The charm lies therein that one can still recognise and distinguish the papaya’s taste. Many of these recipes also fry the whole hardboiled eggs before incorporating them into the curry. We have however not included this step (although it is something that one may want to experiment with), rather opting for hard-boiled eggs of which the white and yolk were just set, so that they would remain creamy after being added to the curry, instead of turning rubbery. Frying the hardboiled eggs and then cooking them in the curry sauce essentially cooks the eggs three times, which would make retaining any creaminess, something that is necessary in this recipe, impossible.

This is an ideal recipe to entertain vegetarian guests, as it is suitably unusual to surprise, extremely flavourful and quite pretty to look at. Even though the recipe includes chickpeas and cauliflower, there is no reason why you cannot add any number of other vegetables, as long as they complement the papaya.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 people:

2 medium yellow onions, sliced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
25 g fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
2 red chilies, deseeded and thinly sliced (optional)
80 ml sunflower or other mild tasting oil
7,5 ml turmeric
7,5 ml paprika
5ml ground cinnamon
5 ml mild curry powder
7,5 ml whole coriander
7,5 ml whole cumin
4 pods cardamom
5 ml salt
2,5 ml freshly ground black pepper
7,5 ml sugar
15 ml fresh lemon juice
200 ml vegetable stock
400 ml coconut milk
160 g ripe but firm papaya, coarsely grated
200 g cauliflower, cut into smaller florets
250 g cooked chickpeas
8 (or 12 if you are serving 6 people) hard-boiled eggs, shelled
Handful of chopped parsley
Rice to serve
Roti to serve
Fresh coriander to garnish


Gently sauté the onions, garlic, chili and ginger in the oil. Grind the coriander, cumin and cardamom finely. Add this, together with the turmeric, paprika, cinnamon and curry powder to the onion mix. Fry, stirring all the time until the spices develop a good aroma. Add the stock and coconut milk as well as the cauliflower. Simmer gently until the cauliflower is slightly cooked. Add the chickpeas, add salt, pepper, sugar, lemon as well as the papaya. Cook on medium-high until all the ingredients are well integrated. Add the eggs and chopped parsley and warm through thoroughly. Serve with rice, roti and a sprinkling of torn fresh coriander. One may want to cut some of the eggs in half to show the beautiful egg yolk.