My dad went to Brazil this past January to visit my 98 year-old grandma, his mother, who's been a little sick recently. He went by himself. I wish I could've gone. I haven't been to Salvador in five years! I wish I could take Mike and Denise with me so they could meet all my family, especially my grandma.
Left: dried shrimp from Salvador. Right: Manioc flour - the one on the left is one that can be found in Seattle and the one on the right is from Salvador, which is much lighter and finer.
Any time any of my family members or friends go to Brazil, more specifically Salvador, I always have them bring me back two special items: camarão seco (sundried shrimp) and farinha (manioc flour).You see, although I can find these two things here in Seattle at an Asian or Latin market, there is nothing like the real deal from my hometown!
The making of acarajé
So, when my dad came back from his month-long trip, I was excited to see him, but even more excited to see my camarão seco and farinha (sorry Dad!). And when Foodbuzz announced that they were looking for proposals for their March 24x24, I knew that I had to be a part of this month's feast. I proposed a Bahian culinary affair, and Foodbuzz accepted! So, today I thrilled to be sharing with you all a taste of Bahia!
To understand the culinary of Bahia, you have to understand its history. Pedro Alveres Cabral landed in Porto Seguro, a city on the southern coast of Bahia, in 1500 and claimed the territory for Portugal.
The city of Salvador, Bahia was established in 1549. The city quickly became the most important slave trading post in the colony. More than 37% of all slaves taken from Africa were sent to Brazil, and most of them passed through Salvador before being sent off somewhere else in the country.
Bobó de Camarão
The cuisine and culture of Bahia, more specifically Salvador, is heavily influenced by African traditions which were brought by the slaves in the early 17th centry. To this day, the people of Bahia have kept the African traditions alive through food, dance, music, and religion.
Caruru - the okra is traditionally diced.
Like I've mentioned before, palm oil is one of the key ingredient in Bahian cuisine. Other hallmarks are dried shrimp, manioc flour, malagueta pepper and coconut/coconut milk. Since my dad brought the shrimp and manioc flour from Salvador, we were able to enjoy the authentic taste of Bahia!
For this special dinner, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite, traditional Bahian dishes. Here is the complete menu :
Black-eyed peas fritters, deep fried in palm oil and served with dried shrimp hot sauce, Vatapá, and pico de gallo. Acarajé is the quintessential street food in Salvador. You will find a Baiana in almost every corner of the city selling them. They are also a staple in Candomblé , an Afro-Brazilian religion.
Bobó de Camarão
Shrimp cooked in a yucca, peanut, ginger, palm oil in coconut milk sauce.
Black-eyed peas cooked with palm oil, tomato paste and dried shrimp
Garlic-scented white rice
Brazilian-style gumbo. Okra cooked with palm oil, coconut milk, dried shrimp and spices. This is beleived to be the oldest recorded African dish in Brazil and another staple dish in Candomblé.
Farofa de Dendê
Manioc flour sautéed in butter, onions, palm oil and dried shrimp
Caramelized coconut dessert
Left: black-eyed peas. Center: farofa de dende Right: cocada preta
4 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
In a sauce pan, heat sugar over medium heat until it caramelizes into a golden-brown color. Add water, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Add coconut, bring mixture to a boil and remove from heat. Remove cinamon stick and cloves. Serve a spoonful in a small dish or spread mixture onto parchment paper and when cool, cut into squares.
I will be posting more recipes throughout the next couple of weeks!