Scrumptious Brazilian dishes to help kick off the World Cup celebrations

Fish stew (Moqueca De Camarao), (Finedininglovers.com)

Fish stew (Moqueca De Camarao), (Finedininglovers.com)

Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:05 AM ET

 

Bring on the soccer balls — we're celebrating Brazil! With 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil ready to take the sports world by storm, all eyes will be on this part of south America, famous for its Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, gorgeous beaches, hot soccer players and delicious food.

Brazilian history is in every bite. According to Dolores Botafogo's The Art of Brazilian Cookery (Hippocrene), the cuisine blends the influences of Native Indian, Portuguese, North and West African, Middle-Eastern and European kitchens. Joan and David Peterson, authors of Eat Smart In Brazil (Ginkgo Press) note the largest influence on Brazilian cuisine came from African slaves, with greens, peppers and coconut milk, staples of West African cooking, becoming firmly established on the Brazilian palate.

The cuisine is certainly a melting pot of immigrants' influences from all over the world, rich in feijoadas, (traditional stews), smoked meats, excellent coffees and delicious sweets. Of course, each region reflects the different influences — southern Brazil's cuisine is heavy on red meat, churrasco barbecue, while north-eastern food is much more indigenous. Rice figures prominently in many dishes. "From the richest to the poorest, everyone eats rice," notes Botafogo, adding "cooking it properly is an art form."

Everything Brazilian dish is steeped in tradition and taste. Something to chow down on when we celebrate the FIFA World Cup Soccer, literally kicking off in a few hours time. Enjoy the games with the following Brazilian-based recipes.

Moqueca De Camarao

Many types of fish, shellfish and even chicken can be made into moquecas, a dish native to Bahia in the northeast corner of Brazil. You can amp up the heat if you like.

  • 2 lb. (1.2kg) fresh medium to large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb. (250g) white fish fillet (haddock or cod) cut into large chunks
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small chile pepper
  • 2 scallions, whites and parts of green, chopped
  • Bunch cilantro, washed and minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • Cooked long-grain rice

In a medium bowl, toss shrimp and fish with lime juice; let stand. Coat bottom of a large, heavy skillet with olive oil. Over medium-high heat saute onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, chile pepper, scallions and cilantro until onions are translucent. Reduce heat, pour in coconut milk and let simmer until mixture thickens. Add shrimp and fish and toss until shrimp turns pink and fish flakes. Serve over bed of rice.

Serves 2 to 4.

Arroz Brasileiro (Brazilian Rice) From Dolores Botafogo's, The Art Of Brazilian Cookery.

  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups (500ml) short grain rice
  • 1 tsp. (1ml) salt
  • 4 cups (1L) boiling water

In a medium pan with lid, heat oil and saute onion, garlic, tomatoes and bay leaf. Add rice and salt and stir until rice absorbs the ingredients. Cover mixture with boiling water. Cook over high heat for five minutes, then reduce heat, cover and simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until rice is fluffy and tender. Serves 4 to 6.

Bahia Butternut Mash

"The most amazing tastes come out of Brazil," says Sheila Lukins, author of the delicious All Around The World Cookbook (Workman). The original recipe calls for calabaza pumpkin, a veggie popular in Latin American markets — butternut squash makes a fine substitute.

  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 lb., (1.2kg) seeded, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp. (.4ml) ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place squash and carrots into large, heavy pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well and remove to a bowl. Add butter and ginger and coarsely mash vegetables with a fork. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve piping hot. Serves 6 to 8.


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