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Mouth- watering Bit

Mouth-
      watering
      Bit

OTHER
BRAZILIAN
FOODS
By Habeeb Salloum

The first time I entered a restaurant in Recife, Brazil’s major northeastern resort, I
was astonished to see featured on the menu kibe—a meat and wheat patty whose
home is the Middle East. In the ensuing days, I discovered that this famous Syrian dish
had become truly a Brazilian food. Served in almost every eating place throughout the
land, it was prepared in a much tastier fashion than its country of origin.

Yet, I should not have been surprised. The ethnic mixture and the diversified climate
of Brazil have been responsible for the creation of one of the most varied kitchens in
South America. For centuries Brazilian cooks have borrowed from the foods of other people,
then combined them with their own to produce an interesting and fascinating wide-ranging
culinary world. Aboriginal Indians; West African and Portuguese—both influenced by
the Moors; and other ethnic foods such as: German, Italian, Japanese, Syrian, etc. have
entered into the cuisine of that vast country.

Before the white man came, the Indians cultivated beans, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes
and manioc root—their principal food. Rice, introduced into the Iberian Peninsula by
the Arabs, was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, and bananas, coconuts and yams came
along with the African slaves. In the subsequent years, from these food crops, rice and
especially beans became the basic diet of the Brazilians, so much so, that Brazil became
known as ‘the land of beans’.

In the northeast of the country, the first part of Brazil colonized, the African slaves
who were imported in great numbers for plantation work did most of the cooking. The
Portuguese women were very few and pampered, disdained kitchen work. Hence, the enslaved
blacks were, in the main, responsible for developing the true Brazilian cuisine. Among the
people of Brazil there is a saying ‘the blacker the cook the better the food.’

As their ancestors had done in Africa, they lavishly spiced their dishes, using chili
powder as one of the most important flavouring. In the following years these hot eatables
became the norm for recipes in the north of the country. However, southward, the spicy
foods gradually diminish, being replaced by numerous immigrant dishes—a legacy of the
many foreign communities in that part of the land.

The products of the coconut are heavily employed in the Brazilian kitchen. They are
used in fish and meat stews as well as in sweets. Likewise, Brazil nuts are very important
in cooking or as appetizers after being salted, toasted or made into chips. Also, dendê
oil, extracted from the fruit of the West African palm, is the most common fat employed in
preparing food. It is one of the important ingredients which, along with coconuts and
Brazil nuts, help to create in visitors and inhabitants alike an incurable appetite for
the victuals of that Amazon land.

The epitome of the Brazilian kitchen is feijoada—a medley of countless
ingredients and the national dish of the country. This complicated mixture of beans,
salted meats, sausages and rice is considered by the inhabitants the king of all eatables.
However, its preparation is time consuming and, therefore, it is extremely hard to find in
restaurants. In the homes, it is traditionally served only at noon on Saturdays.

In the past, feijoada was known as a lowly peasant food and most of the
well-to-do were ashamed to offer it to guests. Today, it is a different story. Even in the
best of homes it is served, especially to large festive gatherings. When prepared for
these banquets, this dish, as its name feijoada completa implies, is by
itself a complete gourmet meal.

Outside of Brazil a cook might find a feijoada meal difficult to prepare. A
number of the ingredients, such as carne seca (preserved meat), are hard to find.
On the other hand, these can be easily replaced by other available products. In this
simplified version of Brazilian feijoada all the ingredients called for are to be
found in most large food outlets.

FEIJOADA COMPLETA
(COMPLETE BEAN AND RICE MEAL)
Feijoada—Bean Dish

4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium hot pepper, finely chopped
1½ pounds hot sausage, any type, whole
1½ pounds uncooked corn beef, cut into 2 pieces
1½ pounds lean beef, cut into 2 pieces
2½ cups black beans, washed
4 cups water
2 cups grapefruit juice
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

Heat oil in a large saucepan, then sauté onions, garlic and hot pepper for 5 minutes.
Add sausage, then stir-fry for a further 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and
increase the water, if needed, to at least 2 inches above the beans and meat, then bring
to a boil. Cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat and beans are well done,
adding more water if necessary.
In the meantime, prepare the following side dishes:

Cooked Rice

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ cups rice
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in a large frying pan, then stir-fry onion and garlic over medium heat for
10 minutes. Add rice, then stir-fry for further 2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients
and bring to a boil. Cover, then cook over medium/low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off heat,
then allow to cook in its own steam for further 30 minutes. Place on a serving platter,
but keep warm.

Cooked Collard
or Kale

4 tablespoons cooking oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch collard or kale, about 1½ pounds, washed and the thick ends removed, then chopped

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oil in a large frying pan, then stir-fry onion and garlic over medium heat for 10
minutes. Add collard or kale, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover, then turn
heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, then place on a serving platter,
but keep warm.

Sliced Oranges

3 medium sized oranges, peeled and thinly sliced, then placed artistically on a serving
platter

How to Serve

Remove the meat and sausage from the beans, then slice. Place each type of meat
separate on a platter and the beans in a serving bowl.
After placing all the dishes on the table, each person should place rice in the middle of
his/her plate, then top with beans, including some of the juice. Surround, separately,
with the meat, collard or kale and orange slices.

Note: This feijoada completa meal serves of about 10
Often a feijoada meal is ended with the following dessert and coffee:

QUINDINS DE YAYÁ
(COCONUT MUFFINS)

Makes 24 muffins
This dessert and almost all other Brazilian sweets are of Portuguese origin with strong
Moorish overtones.

2½ cups shredded and sweetened coconut
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract

Place coconuts, sugar, flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl, then thoroughly
combine.
Thoroughly mix butter, eggs and almond extract in a small bowl, then slowly stir into
ingredients in the mixing bowl, continuing until a batter is formed.
Place in greased muffin trays, half full, then bake in a 350º F preheated oven for 20
minutes or until done. Remove, then allow to cool before serving.

BRAZILIAN COFFEE

Brazil supplies half the world’s coffee needs and, hence, coffee is that country’s
national drink. It is served black in demi-tasses, heavily sugared.

3 cups water
5 tablespoons pulverized coffee
2 tablespoons sugar

Place all the ingredients in a coffee pot, then bring to a boil. Remove from the heat
and allow to settle for half a minute, then bring to a boil again and repeat the process
one more time before serving.

OTHER
BRAZILIAN
FOODS

Besides feijoada, the Brazilian kitchen is rich in a wide spectrum of tasty
dishes. From this storehouse of mouth-watering foods these few are sure to tempt the
uninitiated:

Canja
(Chicken Soup)

Serves 8 to 10
4 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pound boneless chicken, cut into small pieces
2 medium sized onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium hot pepper, finely chopped
3/4 cup pulverized Brazil nuts
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
8 cups water
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup rice

Heat oil in a large saucepan, then sauté chicken pieces over medium heat for 10
minutes. Add onions, garlic and hot pepper, then stir fry for further 5 minutes. Add
remaining ingredients, except the rice, then bring to a boil. Cover, then cook over medium
heat for 1 hour. Stir in rice, then cook for a further 20 minutes or until chicken and
rice are well done.

SHRIMP PATTIES

Makes about 36 small patties

1½ cups dried shrimp (found in Chinese markets), soaked in water for 4 hours, then
drained
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 medium sized onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
l/8 teaspoon cayenne
4 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
oil for frying

Place all the ingredients except oil in a food processor, then process into soft paste,
adding a little water if necessary. Set aside.
Place cooking oil in a saucepan to about 1/2-inch thickness, then heat. Drop in paste, 1
tablespoon at a time, then fry over medium heat until the patties turn golden brown,
turning them over once. Drain on paper towels, then serve while warm

MOQUECA DE CAMARÀO
(SHRIMP STEW)

Serves about 6

4 tablespoons butter
2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small hot pepper, finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot, scraped and finely chopped
1 large sweet red pepper, finely chopped
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 pound frozen shelled shrimps, thawed

Melt butter in a saucepan, then sauté onions, garlic, hot pepper, carrot and sweet
pepper over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin, then
cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes. Stir in shrimps, then cook for further 15
minutes. Serve hot.

BERINGELA COM
CARANGUEJO
(EGGPLANTS
WITH CRABS)

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1½ teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small hot pepper, finely chopped
1 pound frozen crab meat, thawed
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Sprinkle eggplant cubes with 1 teaspoon of the salt, then place in a strainer. Place a
heavy weight on top, then allow to stand for 1 hour over a pot to drain out bitter juices.

Heat oil in a frying pan, then sauté onions, garlic and hot pepper over medium heat for
10 minutes. Add eggplant cubes, then stir fry for further 5 minutes. Transfer frying pan
contents into a casserole, then stir in remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1/2
teaspoon salt. Cover, then bake in a 350ºF preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours. Serve hot.

VATAPÁ
(FISH STEW)

Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound fish fillet (any kind), cut into 2 inch cubes
6 cups water
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconuts
1/2 cup pulverized Brazil nuts
1/4 cup cornmeal

Melt butter in a saucepan, then sauté onion and garlic over medium heat for 10
minutes. Add remaining ingredient, except coconuts, Brazil nuts and cornmeal, then bring
to boil. Cover, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove, with a slotted spoon, the
fish fillet, then stir in coconuts, Brazil nuts and cornmeal. Bring to boil and cover,
then cook over low heat, stirring a number of times to make sure nothing sticks to the
bottom, for 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Gently stir in fish cubes and cook
for a further 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

CUSCUZ DE GALINHA
(CHICKEN COUSCOUS)

Serves 8 to 10

Cuscuz is a version of the famous North African dish called couscous. It was
introduced into South America by the West African slaves who adapted it to Brazilian
taste. Today, the basic difference between the two is that, in the Brazilian dish,
cornmeal instead of wheat semolina is utilised and the cornmeal is mixed into the stew.
To prepare this dish, a couscousière is needed. However, if one is not available, a
double boiler with a perforated top may be substituted.

4 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pound boneless chicken, cut into small pieces
1/2 pound spiced sausage, chopped into small pieces
1 cup chopped green onions
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium hot pepper, finely chopped
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried mint
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup water
2½ cups cornmeal
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 medium sized tomatoes, fairly thinly sliced
1 can heart of palms (14.64 oz 410 g), drained and sliced
1/2 cup sliced green olives
4 hard boiled eggs, shelled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 oranges, peeled and sliced

Heat oil in a saucepan, then sauté chicken and sausage over medium heat for 10
minutes. Stir in onions, garlic, hot pepper, coriander leaves, stewed tomatoes, mint,
salt, pepper and water, then cover and bring to boil. Cook over medium heat for 1 hour or
until the chicken and sausage are well cooked, adding more water if necessary. Set aside.
In the meantime, in a heavy frying pan, toast the cornmeal over medium heat for 15
minutes, stirring constantly, then slowly stir in 1 cup of water and stir-cook for another
3 minutes, making sure no lumps form. Stir into the chicken and sausage mixture the
cornmeal and the butter, then set aside.
Grease top part of a couscousière, then decorate the bottom and sides with some of the
tomatoes, palms, olives and eggs. Divide remaining tomatoes, palms, olives, eggs, and peas
into two parts and set aside.
Place 1/3 of the cornmeal mixture on the bottom of the couscousière, then spread 1 part
of the tomatoes, palms, olives, eggs and peas over top. Cover with another third of
cornmeal mixture and top with the remaining tomatoes, palms, olives, eggs and peas. Evenly
cover with the remaining cornmeal, then tightly cover.
Fill the bottom of the couscousière to within 1 inch of the top with water, then bring to
a boil. Fit in top part of couscousière, then seal the two together with a flour
impregnated piece of cloth. Steam over medium heat for 1½ hours.
Remove cover and invert a serving dish over top, then turn top part of the couscousière
on the serving dish. Gently tap the outside of couscousière to release the cuscuz,
then decorate with the orange slices and serve.

Habeeb Salloum, who resides in Toronto, is a Canadian author and
freelance writer specialising in travel and the culinary arts. Besides books and chapters
in books, Habeeb has had hundreds of articles about food and travel published. Among his
most important works are the books: Journeys Back to Arab Spain (1994); with J.
Peters, From the Lands of Figs and Olives (1995 HB; 1997 PB); with J. Peters, Arabic
Contributions to the English Vocabulary (1996); and Classic Vegetarian Cooking From
the Middle East and North Africa, (in press). You can contact him at salloum@chass.utoronto.ca 

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