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Yummy Yum from Around the World

Caiprinha’s, Carnivals, Football, and the Samba – doesn’t that sound like fun? I’ve heard so much about this people and their love for parties and fun I could well imagine how enjoyable it would be to explore their cuisine. My friend Fabio put me across to Renata and Flavia, and an afternoon I spent with them gave me not just a flavor of their cuisine but also their culture and the people they are. The “party people” took me on a fun-filled yummy yum ride through their cuisine.

Brazilian cuisine, like most cuisines, varies by region and is influenced by their natives and immigrants. Owing to this diversity, the cuisine can be broadly classified into northern, northeastern, southern and southeastern. The popular Brazilian restaurant close to Inman Square, Muqueca, they say, serves typically northeastern dishes. Meat is integral to their cuisine. A typical Brazilian meal would include rice, beans, steak and salads. Fejioada, a stew of beans and pork, served with rice is very popular and a Brazilian favorite. Flavia and Renata emphasize that in Brazil, people drink a lot of juices. Fruits grow in abundance in their tropical climate, resulting in an infinite variety of juices. Renata also mentions that a strong espresso coffee is had after every meal. A soft drink made of a local fruit, Guarana, is a very popular beverage. Cachaca, distilled from sugar cane, is the national liquor and the ingredient of the famous Caiprinha, their national cocktail. I was surprised to know that owing to their Japanese and Italian influence, sushi and pizza are very common and popular in Sao Paulo and Rio. Flavia and Renata seem to think that some of them are so good, they could very well compare to those of Japan and Italy.

Both Renata and Flavia explain that the people of Brazil are a warm, friendly people, who believe and take joy in partying and having fun. Renata, an EC student, explains that their culture is one of abundance, which is evident in their cuisine and way of life. The family comes together during most occasions, with food being in the center and playing a major role. She explains that elaborate Sunday lunches are a tradition her family always follows. An EC partner, Flavia adds that barbacues with families and friends coming together are a weekend norm at her place. Flavia and Renata were excited to share some of their favorite recipes with us.

Brigadeiro: Brigadeiro is a chocolate candy and a Brazilian all-time favorite. A must have for all kids’ parties, elaborate versions of the Brigadeiro are also served at weddings and special occasions.

For their Brigadeiro, you would need:
1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
1 cup coconut milk (optional)
4 eggs
4 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350øF. Lower the baking rack to the bottom one-third of the oven. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater until well mixed (about 6 minutes). Spray the bottom and sides of a tube pan with oil and pour mixture into pan. Fill a larger pan about 1/3 full (they use a turkey roaster pan) with the boiling water. Place the filled tube pan in the roasting pan with boiling water. The water level should hit about halfway up the side of the tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until firm. Cool completely on a rack. Refrigerate the pan for about 3 hours before unmolding it on the serving platter. Once unmolded, decorate the brigadeiro with a generous amount of chocolate sprinkles (about 1 cup worth).

ESCONDIDINHO DE CAMARAO: ESCONDIDINHO DE CAMARAO or “Hidden Shrimp,” as it translates to in English, is a favorite Brazilian bar food. This dish, together with fried yucca, beer and caiprinha, is a Brazilian bar-goers delight.

For their dish, you would need:
1 kg shrimp
5 tomatoes without skin
1 tsp of butter
2 cloves of garlic
1 big onion
1 Philadelphia cream cheese
Coriander
Shredded Cheese

Puree:
1 kg of cooked yucca
Pepper
4 cups of milk
2 tsp of butter
1 can of heavy cream
Salt

Directions:
A) Preparing the Shrimp:
Lightly salt and pepper the shrimp and keep aside. Melt butter and once melted, add chopped onions and let it brown. Add the tomato until it gets soft. Add the shrimps and cook it for 10 minutes. Finally add the coriander.

B) Preparing the puree:
Mix the milk and yucca in the blender. Toss it in a pan. Add butter and pepper until it turns into a cream. Turn off the burner and add the heavy cream.

C) Building it
Spray the pan with butter. Put in half of the puree. Add the shrimp. Add a cream made by Philadelphia cheese and milk. Put in the second half of the puree. Add shredded cheese in the top of it. Return it to the oven. Let it turn golden, and the dish is ready!

Mousse de Maracuja: If you find the Brigadeiro too sweet for you, then the Mousse de Maracuja or the passion fruit mousse is your choice. The passion fruit mousse is another old time Brazilian favorite.

For their mousse, you would need:
1 can of condensed milk
1 can of heavy milk
1 can of passion fruit juice

Directions:
Mix the three ingredients in a blender. Put the mixture in a round and deep ceramic dish. Leave it in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

Wasn’t that yummy? The Brigadeiro is indulgence, no doubt, and for all party people, you have your next party snack ready. Be sure to try them out. It will surely be a hit. Thank you girls for sharing these mouthwatering recipes with us!

We take off again. Next week yummy yum visits the American Heartland with a special Thanksgiving edition. If you have delectable Thanksgiving recipes or special Thanksgiving traditions you would like to share, please write into general@harbus.org with “Yummy Yum” as the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you!

AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHYNiranjana Neelakantan Gupta is an EC Partner. A home-maker, Niranjana enjoys hosting friends, cooking, writing and travelling.

November 16, 2009
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