Saturday, July 28, 2012

Taste of Brazil - Teasers (little bites) IV

Every winter (which is June in Brazil) in the small town of Goias they have a film festival. Well this year we headed there for a concert on Sunday night (the last evening of the festival).  After we spent some time fighting the crowds and enjoying the music we headed to the little court yard in the center of town where vendors were set up selling a variety of foods,  hand crafted goods, and tie dyed clothing.  Of course one of the food booths caught my eye as I had not seen the likes of it before.  They were serving a dish called Acaraja da Dinda.  A typical street food originating from African slaves and popularized in Salvador, Bahia and northeastern Brazil.  I had to give it a try...

Acaraje is made from black-eyed peas which are formed into balls and then deep fried in palm oil.  How can you go wrong with frying in palm oil - right?   In the state of Bahia the vendor who are found making this regionally known cuisine are called "Baianas".  Mostly women  who are garbed in all white cotton dresses, a headscarf and cap.   The chef this evening is not your traditional Baianas.  She is dressed like everyone one else at the festival and would not stick out in a crowd.  I watch as she drops the ball of dough into the hot grease and wait. (she advises me that I must try a fresh one and thus a small wait is in order) A few minute later the dough is now brown and ready to be removed from the hot oil.  The Baianas wraps it in paper,  splits it open and stuffs it with caruru which is a mixture of shrimp, ground cashew, green tomatoes, red tomatoes, ocra, onion, palm oil and spices.  I am warned that this caruru  is known to be a little on the spicy side and anyone who know me,  knows that I grew up in Iowa and there was not a lot of  foods seasoned with hot peppers at our family table.  I am learning to enjoy the spicy side of food so I ventured a bite after being reassured by our chef that hers are not as fiery.  Of course anything deep fat fried has to have some flavor value and although the spice was good and not too hot,  I could not personally get past the little shrimps with their shells still on.   Besides this texture issues,  the flavors were good and I look forward to trying it again in Bahia  where they are infamous! 

Recipe for Acaraje at "Flavors of Brazil"

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