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Brazilian Food Bowl

A large number of immigrants who settled in Brazil introduced their own culinary culture– like the German & Russians in the south of Brazil, Japanese
Brazilian feira
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Brazil is South America’s largest country and boasts of a gigantic platter of culinary diversity where history, colonization, geography and religion meet on the same plate. Long before the Portuguese landed in Brazil, the indigenous people had started using flour; fish from the Amazon River also featured regularly in their food. The Portuguese contributed their typical codfish recipe, some stews, uses of eggs and wine in the local cookery. While African slaves introduced some specific oil (zende oil), condiments, spices and coconut milk which they incorporated into such well known Brazilian dishes as Vatapa, Moqueca etc. When these three sources of food culture fused with the local produce, it created a unique taste in the gastronomic world. Brazilian cuisine is based not only on a great wealth of raw materials but also on the diversity of skills and cultures. So, neither football, nor Samba, let us take a look at Brazilian gastronomy. 

A large number of immigrants who settled in Brazil introduced their own culinary culture– like the German and Russians in the south of Brazil, Japanese and Italians in Sao Paulo. The most basic “Brazilian” cotidian meal can include Portuguese Cod fish, Japanese Sushi, Arabian Esfia, African Okra, Italian Pasta, German sausages on the same plate. I was overwhelmed to see the richness and variety of fresh ingredients. Roaming through Rio de Janeiro’s streets, I found many juice corners serving a long list of tropical flavors. I counted; there were almost 72 types of juices. Unbelievable! In São Paulo, every Sunday was our Feira Day, the farmer’s Market was flooded with fruits and vegetables ranging from tamarind to strawberry, broccoli to silver fishes. On lazy Sundays, picky customers go there early in the morning to store their weekly pantry and have breakfast with Japanese fried pastel. Going to Feira was one of my favorite activities on Sunday. Learning local dialects from rural  vendors was a bonus. After spending seven years in Brazil, I learnt some cooking techniques and how to use fruits in salty recipes. Here I am introducing a few recipes that are very common for Brazilian stomachs. 

Fejioada Brazilian food recipe
Fejioada

Feijoada

Beans and rice are without doubt the most important staples in the Brazilian’s diet. They are served throughout Brazil at least once a day and many times twice daily. Almost all foreigners residing in Brazil know that unless beans and rice are at hand.Generally, it is the laboring class that makes beans and rice the mainstay of its diet, but many intellectuals, too, do not consider that they have properly eaten unless these foodstuffs have been available during the course of the day, usually at lunch. Black beans , which seem to be the most popular kind consumed in Brazil, are an indispensable ingredient in the national dish Feijoada. This dish came to Brazil. originally from African slaves. There is no record of this dish prior to the nineteenth century, but its popularity has grown steadily. Preparing and serving a Feijoada is almost a ritual in Brazil. It is served all over the country with slight variations. Many families have their own recipes for Feijoada. Preparing this national dish takes 5 to 24 hours, as it is a very heavy dish localites don’t eat Feijoada everyday, specially Saturday lunch and Wednesday lunch are reserved for Feijoada. 

Ingredients:

1/3 pound jerked beef
3 cups black beans
1 pound smoked sausage
1 pound smoked pork
1 pound smoked tongue
1/4 pound bacon
1 pig’s foot

Method:

Soak jerked beef overnight in plenty of cold water. Soak beans overnight. Drain beef, cover with cold water , bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Drain again and cool. Add all the meats , cover with water, bring slowly to a boil and simmer until the meats are almost tender. Meanwhile, in another pot, place the drained beans , cover with cold water and no seasoning and cook until almost tender.

Combine the contents of the 2 pots and cook beans and meat together, simmer until the meat is very tender and the beans are soft enough to mash. While the meats and beans are cooking, prepare the following

2 onions, chopped
1 piece fresh sausage, cut up
1 garlic clove, minced
Sprinkle of Cayenne pepper

Fry Onions with chopped sausage until lightly browned, then add garlic and pepper. Stir, frying until lightly browned. Add 1 cup of cooked beans, mix well and mash all together, then stir in some of the beans and simmer for 5 – 10 mins, until the seasonings are blended. Return this sauce to the beans and meats and again simmer until well blended. Adjust seasoning.

Separate the meats from the beans and slice in uniform pieces and arrange on a platter. According to a long established custom, the tongue is placed in the center and the other meats surrounding it. Moisten the meat with some of the liquid from the beans. Serve the beans in a hot pot, with flaky boiled rice, sliced oranges,  pepper and lemon sauce.

Brazilian pastel
Brazilian pastel

Finger food- Pastel

Sao Paulo is the gastronomic  capital of Brazil, thanks to its high level of disposable wealth and a large Japanese community that places a high social value on refined eating. Forming the largest colony outside of Japan, they have made sushi and pastel popular throughout Brazil. Country’s love affair with evening snack Pastel has become a quotidian dish that was influenced by Japanese cuisine . A deep fried crunchy layer stuffed with varieties of flavors such as ground beef, shredded chicken, strawberry nutella can easily replace samosa feelings for Indians. For the starving buyers in farmers markets, Pastel and Sugarcane juice are a monopoly combination. Under a small tent, Japanese descendants continuously fry rectangular Pastel in a deep vessel with hot oil irrespective of seasonal temperature. This finger food took place everywhere  from Bar to Street market, from Football to Samba, from beach to farmers market and it was almost our favorite snack in Brazil. Let’s learn how to make it. For stuffing you can choose any combination, you can play with varieties of ingredients such as chicken and cheese or onion and mushroom or chocolate and strawberry. 

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour
1 cup water
2 cups of oil for deep fry
1 teaspoon salt 

Method:

Mix Flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour the water slowly into this. Knead them well until it becomes hard like our Samosa dough. Keep it aside for 15 mins. After taking a portion from the dough, roll it, make a big circle. In the center, put your stuff , close one side, give a rectangular shape by cutting edges.Close the borders well with a fork  like Momos. Finally, fry it in deep hot oil. Fry it like golden brown. Serve with sauces of your choice. 

Brigadeiro
Brigadeiro

Sweet tooth- Brigadeiro

Brigadeiro is very similar to Kolkata’s rosogolla. The roundish, chocolate candy serves sweet moments for guests on almost every occasion in Brazil. I wondered about the recipe when I ate it for the first time but finally one of our good friends showed us the mystery of its making.  Frankly speaking, it’s super easy, something even a kid can make by her/himself. 

Also read: The Feast of Chatuchak Market bangkok

One cannot disassociate the preparation of candies and cakes in Brazil from their early association with indigenous people and the convents built in Northeastern Brazil. It was to these establishments that the Portuguese nuns brought their recipes for candies, cakes and cookies when they left their home-land to settle in the new country. Later, the African slaves added their own touch and also incorporated some aboriginal ingredients.
Usually, in Brazil, Brigadeiro and other confections are shaped into small bite sized balls by rolling in the palm with lightly buttered hands. They are then placed in small paper cups before arranging in the serving dish. The little bonbon cups are available in pastel color and silver and gold, as well as in various sizes. They use it according to the flavor of Brigadeiro. The most common Brigadeiro is chocolate flavored but strawberry, coconut flavors are the closest competitors. 

Ingredients:

1 can of condensed milk
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
7 tablespoons of chocolate powder
1 bowl of grated chocolate

Method:

Take a non-stick pan,  pour condensed milk & chocolate powder, put on a low flame, stir it constantly until the powder dissolves. Leave it to cool completely. Spread butter on your palm, make a ball like rasgulla, put into a grated chocolate bowl, marinate it very well. Generally, Brazilians serve brigadeiro in a small paper bowl. It’s very cute, looks like candy for kids. 

Guarana fruit
Guarana fruit

Beverage- Guarana

Even though it is not obtainable in this country, one cannot omit a brief word or two about Guarana. This is a Brazilian shrub from which a dried paste for medicinal use is prepared and also a base for a very refreshing and stimulating soft drink. Brazilian American importers have long speculated on the idea of introducing the Guarana beverage to thirsty Americans but because of its tendency to ferment, importation of ready -prepared Guarana has not been successful.
On our first day in Brazil, our landlord welcomed us with a glass of Guarana. It was in April, a light rainy night, he introduced us to this unique fruit drink and left an entire bottle in our fridge. For me, It was love at first sight. It tasted like Coca Cola with a different sensation in your mouth. I searched a lot about this black and red combination fruit which is available only in Brazil, unfortunately. 

When one considers that not only is the beverage refreshing and pleasing to the taste, but also that it is a nerve stimulator and restorative, its potential value as a good seller cannot be overemphasized. The fact that it contains 5% caffeine lends this drink properties similar to those of coffee, that is, its slight acceleration of the brain and muscular control.
Guarana can be served plain with ice, or it can be incorporated into several very good cocktails and punches. In the hope that this useful refreshment drink may someday be imported from Brazil to India. 

Images courtesy: Chaitali Chaterjee and Wikimedia Commons

Chaitali Chatterjee is the author of ‘Latin Desher Rasona’ a Bengali cook book containing her gastronomic exploration spanning several countries of South America. She has a decade long experience in food blogging and writing about her personal experiences in newspapers and magazines. She has been actively involved in a cultural exchange between India and various countries she lived in. Currently she is based in Agra, India.

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