Papaya ‘Malako’ in Thai is a small tree native to tropical America that had spread globally across the tropics. Records show that papaya seeds made it to southeast Asia as early as the mid 16th century and gradually spread in the region.
Papaya is cultivated mainly for its fruit. The trees grow fast and some cultivars start producing an abundance of fruits within a year.
In Thailand the orange sweet and soft fruit pulp is eaten raw when ripe, Papayas are commonly available in markets and in carts of street vendors.
The unripe green peeled fruits are are also eaten as a vegetable. At this stage the pulp has a pale green tint a firm texture and is nearly flavorless. Shredded raw green papaya is the main ingredient in the famous ‘Som Tum’ salad. Pieces of green papayas are also cooked in curries such as ‘Gaeng Som’.