Papaya Quesadilla on the Braai

by Dr. Hennie Fisher – University of Pretoria

Papaya Quesadilla on the Braai

This recipe is an adaptation from one Suzan Najjar invented that uses rotisserie chicken. The smoked chicken however adds another layer of depth and complexity. The papaya, toasted between flour tortillas, layered with the smoked chicken, hot sauce, oozy melted cheese and fresh spring onions and parsley delivers a very unusual, but satisfying light meal that can be very easily adapted as a snack or starter at a traditional South African braai. Even though the quesadilla toasts better on coals that are slightly burnt out, if you are planning to serve them at the beginning of the braai, just scoop out some coals to the side (they do not need a lot of heat) and toast them slowly and lovingly until the cheese starts dripping out – quesadillas translates as ‘little cheesy things’, which is a lovely description for an item that is basically a toasted sandwich or closed type of mini pizza. Even though they are more traditionally made from maize tortillas, to the north or Mexico they are also made with wheat tortillas. The papaya in these quesadillas may also not be totally way-out, as quesadillas were traditionally stuffed with pumpkin. The warm papaya resembles slightly fruity butternut when eaten straight off the grill, but as they cool down the fresh fruitiness of the papaya and the smoked chicken works best.

Ingredients for 3 whole quesadillas:

6 flour tortillas or wraps
3 whole spring onions, cleaned and thinly sliced on a slant
¼ of a medium papaya, peeled and sliced thinly
1½ (about 200 g) smoked chicken breast, shredded
6 stems flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely sliced
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
30 ml hot chilli sauce, such as Sriracha (or more if you like a hot Quesadilla, or of course less)
2 limes
150 g Mozzarella, grated
150 g Brie, sliced


Lay three tortillas or wraps on a work surface.
Start with the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle evenly over the three bases.
Layer all the remaining ingredients in no particular order, ending with the Brie cheese.
Having the cheeses at the outer ends of the tortilla ensures that the quesadilla sticks together.
Drizzle over a few drops of lime juice, cover with the second layer of tortilla.
The quesadillas will be easier to manage on the braai in one of those two-sided braai grids, sprayed with a bit of baking spray to prevent sticking.
Although it was not done for this recipe, it may be a good idea to brush the outside of the quesadillas with some herby olive oil.