Veg Thai Papaya Salad (Without Pounding, No onion, No garlic)

No pestle & mortar in your kitchen?  Not to worry!  This Som Tam recipe allows you to make this popular Thai salad easily, without any need for pounding.  I like pestle & mortars, it can be fun sometimes, but other times I just find it messy and a lot of work. I know how to make it the traditional way, and how not to – and there is very little difference in the taste if any at all. For this recipe all you need is a small chopper or food processor.  You can find green (unripe) papaya in most supermarkets. This salad is great on its own or served as a side to any Thai meal.  If it’s the star player, in Thailand they nearly always serve it with sticky rice on the side. Again this is No onion, No garlic pure vegetarian recipe!

Preparation time: 15 mins, cooking time: 0 mins


  • 1 small green (firm, unripe) papaya, thinly chopped
  • 1 cup tomato slices
  • 1 cup red, yellow, green bell peppers, thinly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts or cashews ( have used masala peanuts which adds more spiciness)
  • 5 green beans (optional)
  • 1 fresh green chilli, sliced, seeds removed (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. light-tasting vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil


  1. First peel the green papaya, then use the largest grater you have (like what you would use to make scalloped potatoes) and grate the green fruit, rotating it as you go to avoid hitting the inner seeds.  If you don’t have a grater, try the second method, which is the one they use in Thailand.  Use a large, sharp knife. First deeply score the flesh, then run your knife just under the surface to release beautiful shreds.
  2. Now get out your food chopper or processor and add the chilli, soya sauce, oil, lime juice and brown sugar.  Process until liquid turns out from the chilli.  Slice the beans into segments and add them to the chopper or processor.  Pulse to lightly chop and bruise the beans (in Thailand the beans are pounded to bruise them, but this method works just as well).
  3. Place the shredded papaya plus all the other vegetables in a large salad bowl, holding back some of the basil for the garnish. Pour over the dressing and beans and toss.  Finally add the nuts and toss again.
  4. Taste-test to tweak the salad to your taste.  More chilli can be added for more spice.  If too sour for your taste, sprinkle a little white sugar over your salad and toss to mix – the sugar will melt in a minute or two.  Serve your salad as is, or as a side dish to any Thai entree.  If this is your main course, try serving like they do in Thailand, with a side of sticky rice.

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