Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Hello Everyone! One more day until the end of April, which means that this will be my last recipe from the Philippines on our journey through the Flavours of Southeast Asia. I most definitely had fun tackling healthier alternatives of classic and much loved Pinoy dishes, as well as celebrating Amcarmen’s Kitchen turning seven years old!

Tonight, I’ll be sharing a recipe in response to a challenge that my friend brought up in our exclusive interview. It started off with her asking me if there are any ingredients that I would never cook with on my blog, to which I responded with: raisins, cucumber, and cilantro. She then hit me with a surprise challenge which is to make a dish with at least two of the three ingredients that I listed – something that I would have to like and eat!

To quote her:

“…something that you had previously found to be a negative experience, is going to be turned into a positive experience, so I’m changing your life!”

And here’s my response; no twists or a fancy remake of this side dish, just straight up, humble atchara. Atchara (also spelled achara or atsara) is a pickle made typically out of grated unripe papaya. Other vegetables such as carrots, capsicum (bell pepper), onion, garlic, and ginger are also added to make up this pickle. Raisins may also be added, but are optional.

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

All of these are then mixed together in a solution of vinegar, sugar, and salt. The key is finding the right balance of sourness and sweetness in the pickling solution. It is then placed in airtight jars where it will keep without refrigeration, however once opened it is preferably kept chilled to maintain its flavour. Ideally, you’ll want the atchara to mature for about a week before consuming it, for it to fully develop its flavour. The longer you keep it, the better it tastes. Once opened, you can keep it in the fridge for up to two months.

Atchara is usually served with grilled or fried dishes; I like to have atchara as an accompaniment to fried fish to give it a little more life. Technically it goes well with any meal that is fatty and salty, as the sharpness of the atchara helps cut through that greasy aftertaste in your mouth.

Since the challenge is to make a dish that includes two of the three ingredients that I dislike the most, the atchara that I will be sharing with everyone tonight includes cucumbers and raisins. The Southeast Asian variations of atchara, or as they collectively call it in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, acar, is mainly made of pickling cucumbers together with carrots and shallot, sometimes even daikon. I’ve had this version of acar when I was living in Brunei, and it was actually delicious as an accompaniment to various fried dishes!

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya) Ingredients


*I had jars of varying sizes, but if I were to estimate, I think they’d fit into about 3 medium-sized jars.


For the pickle

  • 1 medium unripe papaya, shredded
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small red capsicum, sliced thinly
  • 1 packet (50g) raisins
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • Spring onion stalks

For the pickling solution

  • 1 & 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small-sized brown onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Combine the shredded papaya together with the salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, setting it aside to sit for about an hour or until the papaya starts to release its liquid. Then place the shredded papaya in a cheesecloth and firmly squeeze to get rid of any excess juices.
  2. Pickling Solution: Meanwhile, in a small-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the whole black peppercorns ginger, garlic, and onions. Continue to cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down slightly.
  4. Atchara: Combine the shredded papaya together with all the prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Add the warm pickling solution and gently toss to combine. Cover and set aside to completely cool down.
  5. Once cool, transfer the atchara into sterilised jars with tight-fitting lids. You may keep them on the countertop or immediately place them in the fridge for about a week to let the flavours develop before serving.
  6. Serve, cold or at room temperature, with your choice of fried and/or grilled meat/seafood. Enjoy!


The verdict? I definitely loved the pickled cucumbers, in fact I always scoop out for them for every serving. The raisins? I don’t know; there’s just something about them that I don’t like and I can’t explain it. I tried one and after that, I still picked them out.

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)


– Ally xx

Auguest 2019: May (my_kusina_ph)

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Hello everyone, my name is May. I am behind the IG account @my_kusina_ph. I normally feature Filipino food and I love using “bilao” as my plating dish, hence, the hashtag #bilaoserye for some of my home-cooked meals. It was last August since I started my IG food account, almost a year now. My friends encouraged me to set one up as they know how much I love to cook (because I have been cooking for them a lot! Lucky them!). So I said to myself, why not give it a try!

When I was a kid, my lola (grandmother) and mother, both true blooded Kapampangans (Kapampangans by the way are known to be one of the best Filipino cooks) would ask me to help out in the kitchen by washing utensils and chopping ingredients. At that time, I felt it was more of a chore. Later on in high school, I find myself enjoying my “me” time in our little kitchen, experimenting and trying out recipes (I’m having goosebumps right now as I remember my aunt’s handwritten recipe book). I guess that’s when my love for cooking started.

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Through IG, I have met people who share the same passion in cooking and food in general. They have inspired me to become a better cook. Most of them are generous enough in sharing their recipes! Allison is one of the warmest people whom I’ve met virtually in IG. I wish to meet her in person someday! She would post the ingredients and let us guess what she would be cooking next. Often times, she would feature a particular ingredient and highlight how it can be used in a certain dish. I am very happy to be part of her “Auguest” series!

This month, her blog would be featuring fruits. I chose to feature green papaya since it’s very accessible in tropical countries like the Philippines.

Back home in the province, we would just pick this fruit from our farm anytime we needed one for cooking. Here in Manila, everything comes with a price, unless you have a tree in your backyard or a generous neighbor has one. Here’s a photo of our papaya tree:

Papaya Tree

I have travelled around Asia and whenever I visit a country, I make it a point to enrol myself on short cooking courses to learn more about the local cuisine. I love the diversity in Asian cuisine; the way various spices and herbs come together to create a glorious dish!

Green Papaya Salad is a well known Asian salad dish. It’s a spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. In fact, it is present in most Southeast Asian cuisines. In Thailand, this dish is called Som Tam, in Cambodia, Bok L’hong, in Laos as Tam Som and in Vietnam as Gỏi đu đủ.



For the green papaya salad

  • 200g green papaya, shredded
  • 40g carrots, shredded
  • 6 string beans, cut into 2 inches long
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-3 red bird’s eye chilis, chopped
  • 1-2 stalks of Coriander leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 6 tbsp roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
  • 3 pcs Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs*

For the dressing

  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 7 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 5-7 tbsp coconut sugar

*To cook the soft-shell crabs, dredge them in seasoned flour with salt, then dipped in beaten egg, and lastly coated with flour. Deep fry in cooking oil until golden in color and crispy.


  1. First, add the chilis, garlic cloves, and string beans together in a mortar. Lightly crush/pound.
  2. Add in coconut sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and mix well, adjusting the flavors as you work, to your liking.
  3. Lastly, add in shredded papaya and carrots. Mix well.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish, and top with roasted peanuts and crispy fried soft-shell crabs. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve.

Below is a photo of the tool I used for shredding the papaya and carrots. Easy to use. I got it from one of my market tours in Vietnam and it only costs Php 100!

Vegetable/Fruit Shredder

Here’s the finished product!

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Enjoy this healthy salad dish! Oh, you can top it with shrimp if you can’t find soft-shell crabs!

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | May (my_kusina_ph)


– May (my_kusina_ph)

Ginataang Manok (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Ginataang Manok (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone and a very Happy New Year to all! It just came to my attention as I was about to write this post that I should probably prepared a much more distinctive dish to welcome for the first post of the Year – but oh well.

Before I dive into the recipe, let me take up this paragraph to reveal the theme for Amcarmen’s Kitchen for this 2019 – it’s gonna be a FRUITFUL Year! That’s right! This year will be all about cooking with fruits or their… Derivatives? I’m not sure if that is the correct word I am looking for, but what I’m trying to say is for example milk from a coconut or juice from an orange and not the actual fruit itself. Let me know in the comments below what the word for this is!

So to kick start the year, I’ll be featuring Coconut and their… derivatives *insert crying laughing emoji* in all the dishes that I will be sharing for the month of January – both the sweet and the savoury!

Ginataan is one of the most basic cooking processes in the Philippines where ingredients are cooked/stewed in coconut milk. Dishes can vary from savoury dishes such as tonight’s recipe of Ginataang Manok to dessert and snacks such as Ginataang Halo-Halo.

Ginataang Manok (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Ginataang Manok, or in English, Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk, is basically the process of cooking Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup) with the addition of coconut milk.

Short tangent, I went back an had a quick read of my Tinolang Manok post that I shared back in 2015 and I would just like to address a few things that may confuse some of you – heck it confused me a little bit so I’m sure it’s bound to raise questions, especially if you aren’t a regular follower of Amcarmen’s Kitchen.

First things first, I had cooked up the dish when I was in Australia. I had already completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Design, and had graduated just a month before I posted it. Anyway, so on my post I mentioned that I tried to look for malunggay leaves and/or chilli leaves, and to be told by the farmers that no one at the market sells them in Australia. On the other hand here in the Philippines, malunggay and chilli leaves are abundantly sold in markets and supermarkets nationwide. You can even pluck some malunggay leaves from your neighbour’s tree! Just thought I had to clear this up as I am currently back in the Philippines and may confuse some of my new followers from the Philippines in regards to this statement.

Secondly, and lastly I guess – I wrote about my apparent hate for green papaya in Tinolang Manok and my preference for using chayote instead. I did state that maybe there was something off in the particular green papaya that I had picked out – and 3 years later, after having Tinolang Manok with green papaya on a weekly basis ever since being back here in the Philippines, I can finally confirm that there was definitely something off with the one I had picked out from the markets back in Australia. For me, now, green papaya definitely overthrows chayote!

Okay apologies, 3 paragraphs isn’t exactly a short tangent, but now that that’s cleared up and out of the way, on with the recipe!

Ginataang Manok (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk) Ingredients



  • 1kg chicken whole legs, chop each into 3
  • 200ml coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 1 small green papaya, peeled, seeds removed and cut into wedges
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies*
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch chilli leaves
  • Thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Salt, to taste

*Optional – only if you want your ginataang to have a spicy kick to it or not


  1. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the sliced ginger and sauté until fragrant. Add in the garlic and continue sautéing until golden brown, followed by the onions, cooking until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the chopped chicken in the chicken and season with a touch of salt. Give it a good mix, then cover the pot and let it cook for about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add in about 1.5 litres of water together with the whole black peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the coconut milk, papaya wedges, and red chillies (optional). Cover and leave to cook on low heat for about 15 minutes or until the papayas are tender. Taste and if needed, season with a bit more salt; adjust to your liking.
  4. Add in the chilli leaves and give it a good mix. Turn the heat off and serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Ginataang Manok (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Now that I think about it, I wonder if this should’ve been a Papaya dish rather than a Coconut dish? Thoughts?


– Ally xx

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

Hello Everyone! My goodness has it been cold these past few days/nights! Today I didn’t particularly do much besides staying indoors, away from the cold and rain, and cooking up a nice pot of Chicken Soup to stay warm. I made Arroz Caldo, a Filipino chicken porridge, over the weekend seeing as I thought I’d be doing down with a cold, but I was mighty fine the next day. I had some leftover chicken and ginger from that, and so I decided to make chicken soup with it! All I really needed was green papaya and malungay or chilli leaves. Also, perfect as it’s winter warmer month on my blog, and I actually didn’t have chicken soup pre-planned into the month.

Growing up, my mom always made this dish, even though we live in the tropics where we have hot weather all year round, it was still a perfect dish for a rainy day. We usually skip the malunggay or chilli leaves altogether since its not commonly found in the markets, unless you grow your own, and we usually use chayote (or known as chokos here in Australia, which by the way I never knew until I arrived here) instead of green papaya; no real reason for the substitute. My mom also adds glass noodles to the soup rather than pairing the soup with rice (but I still add the glass noodles and have a serving of rice anyway).

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

I think I may have at one point in my life tried this chicken soup with green papaya, and I honestly could not tell the difference in taste, until today that is. I’m not sure if it’s the particular papaya that I picked or the way I prepared it, or whatever it may be, it did not leave a lovely taste to my buds. It just tasted wrong and I can’t pinpoint what it tasted like. Probably just raw papaya to me, but I believe that I’ve cooked it long enough because it was soft, and I don’t think I needed to do anything with it besides peeling and removing the seeds to prepare it. After this dish of mine, I definitely prefer using chayote/choko with my chicken soup. Anyway, I also tried to look for malunggay and chilli leaves in the markets. No one knew what malunggay leaves were and a lady told me that “no one here sells chilli leaves”. I stopped and thought for a while, and then I saw a sign that said that they sell curry leaves. I thought to myself if I could use curry leaves instead of chilli leaves, and so I bought a small bag of fresh curry leaves. It was a wise decision in my opinion! The curry leaves made the soup even more fragrant, which I didn’t think was possible seeing as the chicken soup alone without it was already fragrant enough. It also added a subtle flavour to the soup which I can’t quite describe. Basically, if you’ve had the chance to smell curry leaves, that smell is the flavour. I don’t know if I made any sense there but that’s what I feel/taste.

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup) Ingredients



  • 1kg chicken wingettes, washed and cleaned
  • 1.5L water
  • 1/2 small-sized green papaya, peeled, seeds removed and cut into wedges
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • Thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • Small bunch curry leaves
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the julienned ginger strips and sauté until fragrant. Add in the garlic together with the curry leaves and continue sautéing until golden brown. Finally, add in the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the chicken wingettes together with a bit of salt and pepper. Give it a good mix, then cover the pot and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add in the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the papaya wedges and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the papayas are tender. Taste and if needed, season a bit more to your liking.
  4. Turn the heat off and serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

The secret to making a good chicken tinola is to simmer the chicken for a long period of time. This enables the flavours of the chicken to infuse into the soup and also tenderises the chicken. I’d say cook it between 45-60 minutes, but 20 minutes cooking time is good enough if time is not on your side. Both has worked out fine for me.


– Ally xx