Indian foodies need to evolve into knowing some amazing unknown cuisines. Sapna Sarfare finds out the true delights of Brazilian cuisines which is relatively mysterious here.
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With more people travelling and tasting varied cuisine, tastily made food is no longer just our desi fare for them. Yet, a few cuisines must have missed the hungry eyes or not caught on as much. Brazilian cuisine is one such cuisine. South America’s biggest nation has varied influences on its cuisine to make it as vibrant as its culture.
According to Chef Joy Dey, the Chef de Cuisine of Double Tree by Hilton Pune Chinchwad, Brazilian food is a combo of European and African cuisines which differs from region and is a great reflection of the nation’s mixed culture. “Full of protein, it is less fatty and contains more seasonal produce. While the main ingredients are common throughout the country, the popular dishes differ in the regions.”
Executive Chef Ritesh Negi of Crowne Plaza Pune agrees with Chef Joy and adds that locally available root veggies like cassava, yam and fruits like mango papaya, guava, orange, papaya, pineapple are used a lot. “One of the popular dishes happens to be rice and beans, along with chickpeas, black eyed peas, butter beans, broad beans. You see Brazilians daily consume a combination of starch and protein. Then there is the variety of meats. Brazilian love meats and have a very time-honored style of roasting them. Dips and sauces are used along with it.”
Culturally, Brazilian food gets divided into 5 major culinary types, says Chef Joy. There is the Northern region which has seafood prominence with Portuguese colonial influence. “The fertile Northeast Coast has tropical ingredients like sugarcane, palm oil, okra, farofa, pacoca, black beans, mango, papaya, guava, passion fruit and pineapple. You will find hunting and fishing items in the Central-West region with ingredients like rice, soya bean, manioc and maize. See pork, beans, maize and cheeses representing the South-East region. Lastly, Southern Brazil is known for the barbecues with Italian and German influences.”
Chef Negi reveals, “Ingredients first used by the Brazilian native people includes cassava, cashew, etc. The many waves of immigrants brought their typical dishes to replace missing ingredients with local equivalents. European immigrants from Portugal, Spain, Germany and Poland who were more used to a wheat-based diet and they were the ones to introduce wine, leaf, vegetables and dairy products to Brazilian cuisine.
Each cuisine is associated with certain ingredients. In Brazil, these include coentro or fresh coriander, dried prawns, lime, tapioca starch, rice, parsley, scallions, black turtle beans, manioc flour, dende oil, carne seca or dried meat made up of varying cuts of beef, fresh and milk of coconut, coloral (a red ground spice from Amazon), cinnamon, clove and fennel seed.
Regional cooking techniques speak of the cuisine and culture well. Chef Joy reveals that in Brazil, the cooking methods commonly used would be grilling or steaming in pit oven. “Since Brazilian food is a mix of cultures, the recipes too reflect that. So you see a lot of grilling, steaming and boiling in cooking.”
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Any place you visit and certain special occasion demands special dishes. Chef Joy mentions a few Brazilian dishes. There is Espetinhos – a sort of shish kebab. It commonly uses sausages and chicken and can be had with a hot sauce along with some Farinha de Mandioca (crunchy flour) on top. “Then, there is Queijo Coalho which happens to be a salty Brazilian cheese served grilled. Tapioca is served various manners. Finally, you have the refreshing drink called Caipirinhas loved during the carnival.”
Wait, there is more. Chef Joy mentions Brazil’s national dish – Feijoada which contains pork, rice, black beans, ham, onions, beef and chorizo. Though it has every part of the pig, it is usually toned down to appeal to the tourists. “Another popular dish is Pastel, a thin deep fried pastry parcel with varied fillings. You can also taste Brazilian white rice with carrot and nuts a lot.”
The suggestion that Chef Joy gives for cooking Brazilian food is to keep in mind that it is all about fresh and seasonal ingredients. Now, go ahead and enjoy your wonderful Brazilian delights with some Samba.
200 gm Cod, 2 inch cube
200 gm Prawns, medium size and head off
200 gm Squid, cut in rings
400 ml Seafood Stock
200 ml Coconut Milk
80 gm Red Bell Pepper, sliced in thick rings
80 gm Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced in thick rings
80 gm Green Capsicum (sliced in thick rings)
120 gm Tomato, sliced in rings
100 gm Small Onions, sliced
50 gm Garlic, crushed
10 ml Lime Juice
5 gm Red Chili, chopped
20 ml Palm Oil
Parsley, chopped – 10 Gms
Black Pepper – 5 Gms
Salt, to taste
Season the fish with lime juice, salt, ground pepper and garlic. Keep it for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, season prawns and calamari with salt and pepper. Heat the palm oil in the clay-pot and fry the chopped onion until golden brown. Remove the pot from heat. Layer half of the raw onions, capsicums, tomatoes in the clay-pot. Add all the marinated fish pieces over the layered vegetables and drizzle it with any leftover marinade. Sprinkle it with half of the chopped parsley and red chilies. Serve with rice or bread.
450 gm all Purpose Flour
1 Egg Yolk
30 gm Margarine or Soft Butter
3 gm Baking Powder
400 ml Milk
Salt as per taste
80 gm Mozzarella Cheese
Vegetable Oil, for frying
300 gm Mince Chicken
50 gm Garlic, chopped
50 gm Onion, chopped
Seasoning, to taste
In a large bowl, combine the flour, egg yolk, margarine/butter and baking powder. Slightly warm the milk and mix with 2 tablespoons of water and salt. Add to the flour mixture and make semi soft dough out of it. Allow the dough to rest for about 15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick using a rolling pin and cut into approximately 4-inch squares. Use cooked chicken with onion, garlic and mozzarella as a filling. Keep the filling in center and then press together using a fork to create a crimped seal. Heat a pot of oil over medium-high heat to about 160 C. Add the sealed pastels and fry until golden brown.
Mousse De Maracuja
250 ml Whipping Cream
250 ml Sweetened Condensed Milk
125 ml Frozen Passion Fruit Juice Concentrate
Fresh Passion Fruit, for garnish
Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend at low speed until the liquid becomes light at fluffy. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl or individual short glasses. Garnish with fresh passion fruit pulp on top of it, if available. Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving.
- Recipes by Chef Joy Dey