Stoba is a popular stew from Curacao, which may include green papaya, beef, pork tail or goat. Also popular in Aruba and Bonaire, it is a hearty mainstay on the ABC islands.
Taking inspiration from Curacao’s stoba, I put together a vegan papaya stew recipe that is rich in flavor and hearty. While some recipes for stoba incorporate green papaya (unripened), I used a ripe papaya. It did not have crisp, white flesh that was ready to take on the flavor of whatever it was added to; instead, this papaya had orange flesh and was packed with sweet melon flavor. It wasn’t unripe, but it also wasn’t so ripe that it was a deep orange on the inside. It worked very well with the spices, and created a nice counter to the green peppers in the stew.
I also incorporated a can of young jackfruit, which I shredded to add texture, and balanced it with some red kidney beans for additional protein and fiber. If you don’t have any young jackfruit on hand or have trouble finding it where you are, you can leave it out. It will have zero impact on the flavor, but will impact the texture.
Like most stews, the best part of this stew is absolutely the sauce — nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, onion powder, soy sauce and tomato sauce. Overall, It is easy to make, and so incredibly good!
Vegan Caribbean Papaya Stew
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp onion powder
2 medium green peppers, sliced
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 tsp bouillon (fake chicken or vegetable)
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (OR gluten free tamari)
15.5 ounce can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
14 ounce can of young jackfruit, drained and shredded
1 medium papaya, peeled, sliced in half, seeds removed and cut into bite-size chunks
Prepared brown rice, quinoa or your favorite grain, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve – optional
1. In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add oil, onions, garlic and a dash of salt over medium heat. Sauté for 5 minutes, and then, add nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, and onion powder. Sauté another minute, stirring constantly. Add green peppers, and sauté another 5 minutes.
2. Turn the heat down to low. Stir in the tomato sauce, bouillon, soy sauce, kidney beans and jackfruit. Cover with the lid, and simmer on low for 25 minutes—stirring every now and then. If it starts to stick to the bottom, add some water (maybe an additional ¼ cup).
3. Stir in the papaya, and cover with the lid. Simmer over low heat for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain with lime wedges on the side. A splash of lime juice can be quite nice!