The festa of São Cosme and São Damião (Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian) occurs on the 27th of September. It’s a day when everybody eats carurú, a kind of vegetable stew made from quiabo (okra), dried shrimp, dendê oil, and ground cashews. However, whenever someone says they are having a carurú, they mean that guests are served a traditional plate that includes this food (plus vatapá, among other things). It’s one of many traditional Bahian holidays celebrated by people coming together in family, food, and friendship. Since the two saints were twin brothers, Cosme and Damião are syncretized with the orixá of twin children called Ibeji.
RECIPE – CARURU
2 lbs. okra, trimmed and cut into small rounds
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 lb. dried small smoked shrimp (found in African or International markets), ground in food processor
1/2 lb. roasted, unsalted, cashews, ground in food processor
3/4 cup dendê oil
juice of one lime
Heat the dendê oil in a large heavy saucepan, add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Add the ginger and cook for an additional minute or two. Add the okra, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the okra is soft. Add the ground shrimp and cashews, and cook for an additional five minutes. Add water just to cover. Continue to cook at low temperature, checking consistency. If the dish becomes very thick and slippery, add the lime juice. Let cook until the okra seeds change color from white to rosy-pink, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.