(Family Features) – Untamed. Exotic. Vibrant. These are just a few of the words used to describe Brazil. From its lush Amazon rainforest to its thriving cities, Brazil is a country teeming with life. And well worth a visit.
Brazil is the largest country in South America – and is roughly the size of the continental United States. While the language spoken there is Portuguese, its rich culture has been influenced by Portugal, Africa, Europe, East Asia and its own indigenous Indian people.
The country has five basic regions, each with its own distinct geographic and cultural variations. The Northeast has the greatest percentage of people of African descent. The South and Southeast are home to the majority of Brazilians of European and Japanese ancestry, while indigenous peoples live mostly in the North and Central-West.
But no matter where you go in Brazil – the sun-washed coasts, tropical rainforests, bustling cities or wide open plains – you’ll find fabulous food.
With so many cultural influences, Brazilian cuisine ranges from the simple to the sophisticated, and blends flavors from all over.
Feijoada is considered Brazil’s national dish. It’s a stew with black beans and smoked and sun-dried meats, especially pork and smoked sausages. It’s served with traditional side dishes such as orange slices, shredded kale, rice, cassava meal browned in butter, and a hot pepper and lemon sauce.
If you can’t make it to Brazil this year, you can bring a taste of Brazil home any time. Here are some typical Brazilian ingredients you can use to liven up your meals:
Meats: Brazilian sausages, different cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, chicken thighs and drumsticks. Brazilian sausage may be hard to find, so you can use chorizo or other spicy pork sausages.
Tropical Fruits: avocado, banana, coconut, guava, lime, passion fruit, pineapple
Seasonings: chili pepper, cilantro, palm oil, sweat pepper
Sides: beans, cassava fresh fruits, rice
For your next party, start off with cod fritters as appetizers, then serve up some King Prawn and Coconut Stew over rice. Finish things off with fried bananas with cinnamon sugar or a cachaca and lime parfait. You and your guests will feel like you’ve truly had a taste of Brazil.
To learn more about Brazil and how to get there, visit www.braziltourism.org
“Como se diz isso em portugu√™s?”
This means, “How do you say this in Portuguese?”
Here are some answers to that question:
How are you? — Como vai? Tudo bem?
My name is … — Meu nome √© …
What is your name? — Como voc√™ se chama?
Nice to meet you — Prazer em conhec√™-lo (male) — Prazer em conhec√™-la (female)
Yes — Sim
No — N√£o
Thank you — Obrigado (male) — Obrigada (female)
You are welcome — De nada
Please — Por favor
Very Good — Muito bom
Delicious — Delicioso
King Prawn & Coconut Stew
This dish is a mixture of indigenous Indian, African and Portuguese, which makes it a fantastic illustration of the melting pot that is Brazilian cuisine.
Originally it would have been cooked in banana leaves over hot coals
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 to 2 green finger chilies, seeded and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 limes
2 pounds raw king prawn or shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1/2 pint coconut cream
2 tablespoons dende, peanut or walnut oil (optional)
1. Place the onion, chilies, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and lime juice in food processor with a generous pinch of sea salt. Puree then pour into a non-metallic bowl and add prawns. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Heat a wok or heavy-based deep casserole dish. Remove prawns from marinade and keep to one side.
3. Add olive oil to the pan and then add marinade. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes before adding coconut cream. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer for 2 more minutes, when sauce should be well combined and slightly reduced.
4. Throw in prawns and cook for 2 minutes, or until just cooked through. Check seasoning before removing from heat.
5. To serve, pour dende oil over all and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs. Serve with bowls of steamed rice.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Note: Dende oil originated in Africa and is made from palm. It is a vibrant orange-gold color and has a slightly nutty flavor. Peanut oil or walnut oil may be substituted.
Cachaca & Lime Parfait
Cachaca – pronounced ka-sha-sa – is a kind of rum made from sugar cane. It is sold in the United States as Brazilian Rum.
11 tablespoons sugar
3 un-waxed limes
4 egg yolks*
1 pint double or heavy cream, lightly whipped
2 ounces Cachaca
Tuille cookies, or thin butter cookies
1. Line a one-pound terrine or loaf pan with non-PVC cling film.
2. Zest two limes and juice them all.
3. Pour sugar into small heavy-based saucepan and add one tablespoon water. Mix well with a wooden spoon, then heat until sugar has dissolved and mixture is at the soft ball stage. This is when sugar will drip continuously from a wooden spoon.
4. Put the egg yolks into a food mixer and whisk until light and fluffy. Dribble sugar syrup down side of bowl very slowly to allow it to cool before it blends with yolks.
5. Once it is all incorporated, fold in cream, rum, lime juice and zest.
6. Pour mixture into pan; cover the top with more cling film and then freeze for at least six hours until set.
7. To serve, remove pan from freezer and allow to stand for ten minutes. Cut into slices and serve with cookies and mint sprigs with a dusting of icing sugar.
Serves 8 to 10
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Note: If you can’t find un-waxed limes, scrub limes thoroughly before zesting.
*With eggs and all other raw foods from animals, there is a small possibility of Salmonella food poisoning. The risk is greater for those who are pregnant, elderly or very young and those with medical problems which have impaired their immune systems. These individuals should avoid raw and undercooked animal foods.