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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