If you ever go to any traditional Bengali food fest or restaurant or to any occasion like marriage parties, one dish you surely will find in the menu is 'plastic chutney'. You might be thinking, who eats plastic! Don't worry, it is nothing but raw papaya chutney. The next obvious question comes, why plastic then? Although the history behind the name is unknown, but it is perceived that may be because of its glass-like translucent texture, this chutney is called plastic chutney. Yes, that is how it looks after cooking in sugar syrup. Chutneys work as palate cleanser, so in a full-course Bengali meal, they are served after a heavy main course and before the dessert, which obviously are sondesh, doi and rasogolla.
Before sharing the recipe of sweet and tangy 'plastic chutney', let us find out what are the benefits of raw papaya. As per the book Healing Foods by DK Publishing, this vegetable has anti-bacterial properties. Raw papaya also contains the highest concentration of papain (a beneficial digestive enzyme), promoting good digestion. Now this can probably be one of the biggest reasons for choosing papaya for preparing this chutney.
Here's A Quick And Easy Recipe Of The Raw Papaya Chutney
Raw papaya- 1 cup (if shredded) or 2 cups (if finely sliced and then cut into small cubes)
Sugar- 2 cups (you can add more sugar as per the amount of sweetness you want)
Salt- 1 to 2 pinch/pinches
Water- same as the papaya
Lime Juice- 2 to 3 tablespoons (or more if you want extra tang)
Cashew nut- 10-12 (broken)
Panch Phoron/Bengali 5 spices (mix jeera, rai, saunf, kalonji, methi)- 1 teaspoon
Dry red chilli- 1
Bhaja (roasted) masala (cumin, coriander, red chilli roasted and grounnd)- 1 teaspoon
Mustard/Refined oil- 1 tablespoon
Take a wok/kadhai on medium flame, pour the oil in it.
Put red chulli and panch phoron and sauté for 1 minute (do not burn the spices). If you don't get the five spices, you can just use black mustard seeds.
Put the papaya in it and sauté for 2/3 minutes and pour water.
Let it cook in low-flame.
Once the papaya is well cooked and gets a glossy colour, add sugar and salt, cashew and raisin; mix them well and close the lid.
When the water is almost soaked and the chutney gets a good thick consistency (not dried up), add the roasted masala mix and lime juice and switch off the flame.
Let it cool down before serving.
In a traditional Bengali meal, plastic chutney (or any chutney it be) is served with papad. You can also try this chutney with paratha and also as an alternative to jam. Try it and let us know how the plastic taste.