It may well be only one country but Brazil offers a host of different culinary cultures. Merrilees Parker starts her journey in the Afro-influenced coastal city of Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia. She helps offer food to the Candomble Gods before filling up on sweet street food and being swept along by the infectious energy of street drummers.
The next day, she meets Da Da, a famous restaurateur and TV chef who learned the art of Bahian cookery while living in the Favelas (shanty towns). Together they cook a spiny lobster and Moqueca fish, a delicious local coconut cream and fish stew.
Merrilees then paddles up the River Amazon and journeys into the rain forest in search of Brazil nuts and bizarre fruits, tapioca pancakes and exotic barbecued fish.
Downstream, Belem‘s wonderful market offers even more surprises including a Guarana smoothie, jambo leaf, manioc and dried shrimp soup and hundreds of herbal medicines.
Merrilees then heads south to Recife in the Pernambuco state, where Portuguese flavours are the order of the day. Here, sugar plantations have given the worldCachaca, Brazil’s answer to rum.
Merrilees samples the national cocktail and whisks up a Cachaca mousse before joining the Easter celebrations at the extraordinary Fazenda Nova, an open-air reconstruction of old Jerusalem where tens of thousands watch the Last Supper and gorge themselves on goat kebabs and pastries.
Further south in Porto Allegre, Merrilees meets the Gauchos who tend Brazil’s famous beef cattle and cooks them Waggoner’s Rice, one of their favourite dishes. The mixture of European culture and the love of meat means the area offers huge barbecues and sophisticated wineries, both of which Merrilees experiences before finishing her journey in the country’s party capital Rio de Janeiro.
She ends her Brazilian experience with beach food and the national dish, Feijoada.
- Wagoners' Rice (Arroz Carreteiro)
- Brazil Recipes: Lobster & Sea Bass Moqueca Stew
- TV Shows: Planet Food - Brazil Recipes Cachaça & Lime Syllabub
Wagoners' Rice (Arroz Carreteiro)
Serving: 4 to 6 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 green peppers, de-seeded and sliced
- 2 red peppers, de-seeded and sliced
- 2 yellow peppers, de-seeded and sliced
- 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 375g/13oz beef cut into cubes
- 350g/12oz non-stick rice
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- Grind together garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper with a pestle and mortar.
1. Heat the olive oil in large heavy-based saucepan until very hot. Add the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes until just beginning to brown. Add the paste from the mortar and stir.
2. Stir in the beef and continue to cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until all the meat is well sealed. Next add the peppers and tomatoes and stir well.
3. Tip in the rice. Stir well and pour over enough water to cover the ingredients by 2.5cm/1inch.
4. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or when the water has nearly all been absorbed. You may need to add a little more water if the rice is too al dente and the dish quite dry.
5. Just before serving sprinkle over the parsley and spring onions.
Recipe courtesy Moacir XXX, 2003
Brazil Recipes: Lobster & Sea Bass Moqueca Stew
Serving: 4-6 servings
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 2 bunches fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 bunches fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 large Sea Bass, cleaned
- 2 large lobsters, halved
- 10 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 6 onions, chopped
- 4 green peppers, de-seeded and chopped
- 2 bunch spring onions spring onions, finely sliced
- 6 limes, halved
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 1 pint coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil
- * ½ ladle dende oil
- 3 tablespoons salt
- Freshly ground pepper
1. Roughly chop nearly all the coriander and spring onion, leaving enough for garnish. Place the coriander, parsley, garlic, tomatoes, onions, peppers, spring onions and salt into a large heavy bowl. With a pestle, mash together all ingredients, gradually squeezing in juice of limes.
2. Take both fish and slash diagonally 3 times on each side. Stuff some of the mixed vegetables and herbs into the slashes and the centre of the fish and close. Take the halves of lobster and cover with vegetables and herb mix, leaving around half for later.
3. Heat a large saute pan with the olive oil. Arrange sea bass and lobster (placing flesh side down) in the sauté pan. After 2 minutes, pour over the coconut milk and bring to a gentle bubble. After a further 2 minutes, turn over the fish and lobster. Add the remainder of the vegetable and herb mix.
4. Cook for a further 10 minutes, when the fish and lobster are tender and the vegetables are cooked through.
5. Transfer to a large serving dish and sprinkle with remaining coriander and spring onions.
Add dende oil (is available) in a slow circular motion over the top.
*Cook’s Note: Dende Oil is an African palm-oil, widely used in the Brazilian state of Bahia and is difficult to obtain elsewhere. The dish is just as delicious without it.
Recipe courtesy Aldaci Dada Dos Santos, 2003, Image: Moqueca de peixe e camarao by Luca Nebuloni
TV Shows: Planet Food - Brazil Recipes Cachaça & Lime Syllabub
Serving: 4 – 6 servings
Preparation time: 50 minutes
- 5 un-waxed limes
- 20 fl oz double cream
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2½ fl oz Cachaca
- biscuits to serve
1. Zest the limes using the fine side of a grater. Next squeeze the juice from one of limes and thinly slice the remaining ones.
2. Pour the cream into a large clean bowl. Add the sugar and then using a large balloon whisk beat the sugar and cream together until well combined. Fold in the Cachaca and whisk again for a couple more minutes. Finally add the lime zest and juice and whisk again until the mixture forms soft peaks.
3. Pour into a large glass bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then remove from the freezer and place in the fridge for a further 10 minutes.
4. Dress with the remaining lime slices and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy Pousada do Amparo
Places Mentioned - BrazilShare the series