Brazilian food has been influenced primarily by the Portuguese and also their African immigrants. Brazil is an enormous country (the fifth largest in the world calculated both by land mass and population size) and so consequently there are many regional variations in their cuisine.
The dish, feijoada is considered by many to be the country’s national dish and is a stew of meat (beef or pork) and beans. Apparently it originated from slaves being given the scraps of pork and cheap beans to eat by their masters. I’m not a bean lover so decided to try and find another typical dish.
I stumbled across vatapá; a typically Afro-Brazilian dish made from prawns, coconut milk, peanuts and cashew nuts and thickened with white bread.The dish originates from the North and Northeast of Brazil, particularly the Bahia state. It is usually served with acarajé (fritters made of black-eyed peas) or white rice.
There are various recipes online for this dish and I used an amalgamation of a few. The only thing I was missing was (once again) palm oil which gives this dish a lovely orangey / red colour. I have now relented and ordered some off Amazon as it does keep cropping up in many recipes and I can’t find any locally.
To make Vatapá, I first soaked 3 slices of white bread in a tin of coconut milk and then blended them together. I ground up a small packet of peanuts and cashew nuts together and put these to one side. The prawns were boiled up in some fish stock with lime juice and put to one side. I fried off an onion with garlic and chilli then added the nuts and fried them for a few more minutes before adding the coconut mix, the cooked prawns and some of the cooking liquor from the prawns.
Overall this was a so-so meal. If I hadn’t have guessed I would have assume it was Asian rather than South American (or even African). Perfectly nice but not one I’d make again.