Oh Brazil…I really miss your flavour, your food, your colours, your people. It’s not always easy to leave everything behind and start a new life in another country. And sometimes, our hearts beat a beat faster with thoughts from a far away land which we don’t belong anymore…
It’s all tears though. I’m really grateful for the fact that I am now a permanent resident of Australia (cough as I said before cough) and I’m proud for having achieved that. However, I still was born in a different country, with a different culture and with different perspectives and lifestyles. And that means, I will never leave my background no matter how long I’ve been away from my home country. And the one thing we can kind of make us feel like ‘home’ is food (as usual). There’s actually a word we, Brazilians, use when we miss something very dearly. It’s called ‘saudade’.
‘Melancholic nostalgia and longing for a dear person, place or thing that is far away from you. Something or someone we know is long lost.’
And sometimes we feel a lot of saudades from our family and friends and also of the food in Brazil. It may sound kinda rude but really, food for us means a lot. As it probably means to a lot of people. Brazilians live and socialise around the table. We gather every weekend for barbecues and dinners with our families and closer friends. We make business over lunch and dates over dinner. And the food we miss the most, is certainly the one that our mothers or grandmothers used to make. That is the food we crave and miss the most.
Brazilian food is also very, very rich. We are, after all, a big country. In fact, we are the fifth largest country in the world (yep, we are bigger than Australia). And we have 27 states (imagine remembering all the capitals and states in Geography!!) and our culture background is really mixed and also quite old. Therefore, we have a vast and deep culture from all over the world.
FUN FACT: Did you know that the largest community of Japanese outside Japan is in Brazil?
And we have much more, as you may know, I’m from Italian background from my mothers’ side of the family and Portuguese from my dads’. There are also lots of German, Polish, African, Japanese, Lebanese, Turkish and more. Not to mention the indigenous tribes from Brazil which are extremely diverse but are slowly being diminished by the growth of urban areas and for farming. Phew…tl;dr, Brazil is HUGE and a culturally diverse country with lots of yummy foods to die for. So if you haven’t tried anything yet, I’m gonna show you our most loved staple dish: Feijão.
Feijão is a bean, like cannellini or pinto beans. The difference is in the way we cook it. No beans for breakfast peeps (sorry don’t freak out but, ew!). As you may know, Brazil is still a third world country with most of its population living in poverty or with very low resources. And beans and rice provide a balanced yet cheap meal which became the country’s staple dish.
Also, we use a couple of different types of beans, being the ‘Black Turtle’ the most popular, followed by ‘Pinto’ beans or ‘Carioquinha‘ as we call it in Brazil.
For me, carioquinha, is the best bean to make feijão. It’s slightly ‘lighter’ than its black counterpart in flavour and a bit more creamier when it’s cooked. Great combo right there!
I must also add, there are two main ways of cooking beans. The basic ‘feijão‘ recipe is simple and it just requires seasoning to be served. The seasoning is made aside while the beans are being cooked in a pressure cooker (we use that thing allll the time. Saves us some much time and hassle!). However, the more sophisticated way of preparing it requires a few more ingredients, usually derived from pork and sometimes beef. Traditionally, a Feijoada is made with black beans, pork ears, tail, sausages and other fatty bits. It’s quite a meal and its really heavy as you can imagine. Feijoada is usually served on its own (no rice) with a side of orange slices, which help breakdown the fat and make the digestion process a tiny bit easier.
And as you obviously know, I gave up the whole meat-eating thing a little while ago and honestly, I can’t remember the last time I ate the ‘real’ Feijoada. But I love feijão and I miss having that hearty meal that reminisce so much of home. So I made my own as any other Brazilian vegetarian/vegan would. And I made my version of a feijoada with so many delicious and hearty veggies that make any original version fade away into oblivion.
Well, at least I think so.
And before I forget, another add-on which is unforgivable to leave behind is Farofa. Most loved and used in barbecues in Brazil, farofa is also the perfect companion to a feijoada. If you are still wondering what is it, I’ll tell you know. Farofa is derived from manioc or cassava which is a root, typical to South America and South East Asia. It can be consumed as a root (cooked in water/deep fried) or be turned into flour and then be used as tapioca (will share this one soon!), manioc flour and farofa. All in all, great to eat anyway.
Ok, so now I feel like you all are a bit overwhelmed with this much information, so I’ll just cut the talk and share this amazing recipe with you! I really hope you like it. Because it’s healthy, hearty (perfect for Autumn/Winter), nutritionally rich, protein packed and delicious. It ticks all boxes and it’s relatively easy to make, requiring just some extra time to soak the beans (important part).
So here we go, an easy, delicious, complete meal with an Autumn-y feel and exotic flavours.
- 1 kg of Pinto (Carioca) beans
- 3 medium carrots
- 4-5 large mushroom cups
- 2 zucchinis
- 1 onion (brown or Spanish)
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- Small bunch of spring onions
- 3-4 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoons rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Chilli powder to taste (make it as spicy or mild as you like)
- 2-3 tablespoons of rice bran oil
- Farofa to serve)
- Firstly, wash the beans and soak in cold water overnight. The more soaked they are, easier is to cook them in case you don’t have a pressure cooker.
- When the beans are ready to cook, add them to the pressure cooker and follow the instructions for water limits on the pan. If cooking in a pot, add the beans and cover with water (about 5 fingers above the beans).
- Add the bay leaves and salt and cook over medium heat until the bean are cooked (slightly soft).
- Meanwhile, prepare the seasoning. In a pan, add the oil and the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until soft, then add the spring onions and the remaining seasonings. Cook a little more until fragrant.
- After 30 minutes, check the beans (if cooking in a pressure cooker, to open the pan, remove from heat, put pan under running tap water and let lever release all pressure before opening lid.
- If beans are half way cooked, add the vegetables and let cook a little longer. After 10 more minutes (on pressure cooker, it should be ready, repeat process to open pan) add the seasoning and taste for salt. If need more cooking, leave pan open and cook until ready.
- Serve with farofa and enjoy.
Hope you enjoy and let me know if you tried Feijoada or Feijão.
P.S.: you can find Brazilian products in Australia here.