Vatapa, Bahia. Brazil

An estimated 1.3 million slaves were imported, from West Africa, into Bahia before slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888. These people were to have an immeasurable impact on what Bahia was, and is today. Shipped from Africa in horrendous conditions, the ones who survived the transatlantic trip, were sold and put to work in the regions vast sugar plantations.

Other than a providing a work force for the Sugar Barons, the Africans who were removed from there homes brought culture – music, Religion, artesiania, dance and of course gastronomy. Due to this huge displacement of people, Salvador is the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture in Brazil and its influence is unmissable. At night the colorful city throbs with Afro-Brazilian music that accompanied the interesting smells that waft through the lively cobbled streets.

Here is a recipe for Vatapa, A typical Afro Brazilian recipe that is eaten as a side dish or spread inside Acaraje.

  • 8 small bread rolls
  • 350 ml of coconut milk
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • Cup of peeled peanuts (unsalted)
  • Cup of ca hew nuts
  • A large knuckle of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic

1 cup of dry shrimp

1. Spread the shrimp on a baking shallow baking tin and roast in the oven (180oc) for five minutes.

2. Remove from the oven, cool a little and in your fingers pinch of the heads and discard them. Place the remaining bodies in a pestle and mortar and grind into a rough powder. You can cheat and use the blender.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, cashew nuts, peanuts and cilantro to a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

3. Now break up the bread rolls and put them in a liquidizer with the coconut milk and whiz until you have a smooth consistency.

4. In a large pan add a little dende oil and the onion and heat gently. Once the onion is softened add the garlic-ginger-nut paste and your pounded shrimp. Heat for a couple of minutes while stirring so all the flavors infuses.

5. Now pour in your bread and coconut milk and the remaining dende oil. Turn up the heat a touch and stir well with a wooden spoon.

6. Cook until you have a heavy and stodgy consistency making sure you stir regularly with a wooden spoon so none of the mixture burns on the bottom of the pan.

Serve as a side dish in the middle of your acaraje.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 19th, 2008 at 10:05 and is filed under Brazilian Recipes, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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