Brazilian Potato and Bean Stew

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Brazilian Potato and Bean Stew
World Cup fever is at its highest point right now with everyone looking forward to the finals this weekend…….even I cannot escape it!!!! Since I have not yet figured out the game yet, I use this as an opportunity to learn more about the countries playing the matches. It’s been interesting reading all about the sights, culture and most importantly food about the various countries. My bro in law, N, has been talking about this business trip he is going to take to Rio and that got me thinking about Brazilian food itself. Many travel websites have mentioned that South America is not ideal for vegetarians with just a few options. A little research resulted in plenty of vegetarian variations on Feijoada, a few salsas and some rices ……but I wanted more. I finally found a chicken and shrimp stew that I could make vegetarian. Its called Xin Xim de Galinha.

I found this recipe in Sara Moulton’s website under Weeknight Meals with guest Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, a Brazilian Chef and cookbook author. What attracted me to it was the fact that I had most of the indgredients on hand. I didnt have the time or quite frankly the energy to go shopping !!!! Anyway, I have found that while substituting for chicken or seafood, potato, cauliflower or paneer work the best. Well, this time neither did I have cauliflower nor paneer, so I used potatoes and the ubiquitous black beans so prevalent in Latin cuisine. The base of the stew is made with cashews, peanuts and coconut milk. It’s a recipe from the state of Bahia. Bahian cuisine is most famous of Brazilian regional cuisines. This stew honors the Goddess Oxum that the African slaves brought with them during the Portuguese colonization of Brazil, hence the use of peanuts!!! It is basically browned pieces of chicken and seafood or in case lightly browned potatoes in a thick creamy nut based sauce. It’s combined with the popular and brilliantly yellow oil….dende oil or palm oil. Palm oil is mostly in Tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil. I did not buy palm oil instead used turmeric to get a similar yellow hue. Some versions do have jalapenos in them.

This stew is colorful, spicy and deliciously tasty !!! Somehow, the simple potato becomes almost exotic and unique in this sauce. The stew is simple to make but complex and rich in flavor. The flavors are rounded and soft but then you get the kick from paprika and lime juice. I served it with rice, a simple hot sauce for more heat if you prefer and a simple tomato & onion salad.

Brazilian Potato and Bean Stew

BRAZILIAN POTATO AND BEAN STEW

(Vegetarian Xin Xim de Galinha)

 

2-3 medium Red Potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed (2 ½ -3 cups)

1 – 1 ½ cups canned Black Beans, rinsed and drained

¼ cup unsalted Brazil nuts / Cashews, lightly toasted

¼ cup unsalted peanuts, lightly toasted

4 tbsp. Olive oil

1 cup finely chopped Onions

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp. grated Ginger

1 tbsp. Tomato Paste

1 ½ cups chopped Tomatoes

1 can Coconut Milk

1 tsp. Turmeric

½ tsp. Paprika

Salt to taste

Juice of 1 Lime

¼ cup chopped Cilantro

 

In 2 ½ tbsp. of oil, lightly brown the cubed potato and set aside. (Pat the potatoes dry before this step or they will not brown properly and you will end up using more oil)

While the potatoes are browning, grind the nuts till they resemble a fine meal. Set aside.

In 1 ½ tbsp. oil, sauté the onions, garlic and ginger till onions are soft, tender and translucent.

Now add the tomato paste, tomatoes, turmeric, paprika and salt. Sauté for 3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and a cup of water or veg. stock.

Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Uncover, add more water if desired and add the beans. Simmer for another 5-6 minutes till potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat, add the lime juice and cilantro and serve.

 

Unlike the original, this stew will not be orange-red but more yellow. It will also be slightly gritty from the nuts. It should only be slightly thick from the nuts, so adjust water/stock accordingly.

 

This is off to “Bloggers around the World- World Cup 2014 Brazil” at Cooking around the world. Also off to “No croutons required” at Lisa’s Kitchen and “Bookmarked Recipes” at Tinned Tomatoes.bookmarked recipes new logono+croutons+required

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Akara or Acaraje ( Black Eye Pea Fritters )

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Black Eye Pea Fritters

World Cup fever is everywhere……you cannot escape it, even a football ignorant person like me!!! Growing up, I watched a lot of cricket and tennis. While cricket now is no longer on my must watch list, tennis is still quite prominent. V and N however really enjoy football or soccer as its known here. So we have been watching a few matches and I have to say that I still don’t understand many of the rules….I however enjoyed myself thoroughly!!!

I have had my eye on this Nigerian dish for quite a while and have been waiting for the right time to make it……..you know, when you have the ingredients and the time as well as the inclination to make it!!!! When I saw the Bloggers around the World- World Cup 2014 challenge, I figured it’s the right time. It’s a Black Eye Pea Fritter called AKARA. It’s very popular in most West African Countries but is usually associated with Nigeria. I love beans of any kind….well let me rephrase, almost every bean….not very fond of fava beans!!! I also use beans to sneak in protein in the diet of my very picky eaters. They like deep fried food…..lets be honest almost everyone loves it and I do let them have deep fried stuff once in a while!!

Anyway, different versions of akara are found all over West and Central Africa. During the slave trade, it made its way to the Caribbean and South America. In Brazil, its called ACARAJE. These are very similar to the Middle Eastern Falafel, only in this case instead of chickpeas or fava beans, black eye peas are used. Akara are typically eaten for Breakfast, snack or as a part of a multi dish meal. I prefer to serve these as appetizers or eat them in as sandwich or pita like falafel.

Black Eye Pea Fritters

This is a pretty simple dish….I know I say that about every dish I make but it truly is or maybe its simple b’coz I never even look at a recipe if it is not simple!!! My friend C, always asks is it Ghay easy or a normal person easy??? You soak black eye peas and then blend it with a few ingredients, drop spoonfuls in hot oil, cook till golden brown and enjoy….. I will let you be the judge as to how easy it is. This version is the simplest and also vegetarian. There are variations with shrimp, stock cubes, ginger but this being my first time, I stuck with very few ingredients. You can either use the scotch bonnet peppers, which are extremely hot or stick to Thai bird chilies or jalapenos, which are less intense. My only note is that it is important not to add too much water and use a food processor to puree the beans. The processor aerates as it grinds so the fritters are light and airy.

 

AKARA OR ACARAJE (BLACK EYE PEA FRITTERS)

 

1 ½ cups dried Black Eye Peas

1 small Onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

½ Scotch Bonnet Pepper, seeded and chopped

1 ¼ tsp. Salt

Canola or Peanut oil for frying

 

Pick over the peas and rinse in cold water. Soak in enough to cover by 4-5 inches overnight.

Drain and cover again with fresh water. Rub the peas between your palms to loosen most of the skins. Skim off the free skins and drain thoroughly.

Place in a food processor and process, pushing it down till you get a grainy paste.

Now add 4-5 tbsp. of hot water, a tbsp. at a time till you get a droppable consistency. DO NOT ADD EXTRA WATER.

Now, separately process the onions and peppers and mix into the bean mixture.

Heat the oil for frying and add the salt just before you drop the bean mixture into the oil.

Stir the batter gently and using a cookie scoop, drop the batter into the oil. Do not over crowd the pan. It will absorb oil if you do so.

Fry on medium for 6 minutes or so, turning the fritters regularly. They should have an even, rich reddish brown color.

Drain on paper towels and serve hot with a spicy dipping sauce.

As I said earlier, this is off to the Bloggers around the World- World Cup 2014 at Cooking around the World.

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