This recipe is for a Bahian version. Try it this week when you’re feeling for something yummy, scrumptious, and satisfying. For a completely vegetarian version, try substituting the fish for bananas or cook with plantains instead.
juice of 1 lime
salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium tomatoes
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1/4 cup firmly-packed chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp dendê oil*
2 cups coconut milk
Season the fish with the lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Marinade for 30 minutes. In a blender or food processor, blend the tomatoes, the onion, peppers and the cilantro until you have a homogeneous but still slightly chunky liquid. In a large frying pan, add the dendê oil, then add the mixture from the blender and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is hot and bubbling. Add the fish, covering the pieces with the tomato mixture and cook for one or two minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the fish is completely cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve in a decorative earthenware bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves, a few rings of onions, and bell peppers if desired. Serve with white rice and a good, preferably home-style, hot sauce.
Luiza Mahin was born some time in the 1800s in either the Gulf of Benin, West Africa or Bahia (her exact place of birth and birth date are uncertain) and claimed to be of African royalty. Based on her surname, she is assumed to be of the Mahi tribe from the Nagô (a subgroup of the Yoruba) nation who were practitioners of Islam. Luiza Mahin is most iconically known to have been very involved in many of the slave revolts and uprisings that occurred in Bahia during the early half of the nineteenth century. She was a key player and strategist in the Malê Revolt as she helped to distribute messages in Arabic to others involved. It is said that had the Malê Revolt been successful, she would have been declared the “Queen of Bahia”. It’s not clear whatever happened to Luiza Mahin. Some reports say she escaped to Rio de Janeiro, was found and arrested before being deported to Angola. Other tales say that she escaped to Maranhão where she settled and helped to influence Afro-Brazilian culture there. She had at least one son, Luiz Gama, who was a well-renowned Bahian poet and abolitionist who had this to say about her:
“I am the native son of a black African woman, free, of the Nagô nation, whose name is Luiza Mahin, pagan, who always refused baptism and christian doctrine. My mother was short, thin, beautiful, the color of jet black unglazed, teeth white like snow. Haughty, generous, a sufferer, and vengeful.”