On November 25, the symbolic character of the Baiana is celebrated as part of the Mês da Consciência Negra (Black Consciousness Month). Celebrations take place with a mass at the church Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks), in Pelourinho, followed by a dance of samba de roda, and typical Bahian food.
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.
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.
To get a taste of Bahia, try making this classic dish. Let us know how it turned out.
Bobó de camarão, translated as shrimp bobó in English, is a Brazilian dish of shrimp, puréed manioc (a.k.a. cassava or yuca), coconut milk, and other ingredients. Like many Bahian dishes, it is flavored with palm oil, called dendê in Brazilian Portuguese, and is traditionally served with white rice, but may also be served by itself. Bobó de camarão is nearly identical to the West African dish Ipetê, and is one of the many iconic recipes from the Bahia region.
RECIPE – Serves 8
For the manioc purée:
2 lbs (1 kg) cooking onions, peeled and chopped
2 lbs (1 kg) firm, ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 Tbsp finely cilantro, finely chopped
2 lbs (1 kgs) manioc/cassava/yuca root, peeled, boiled and mashed
2 cups (500 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (1 liter) coconut milk
For the shrimp:
4 lbs (4 kgs) medium or large shrimp, peeled, deheaded and deveined, with tails left on
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (1 liter) coconut milk
2 Tbsp dendê oil
Prepare the manioc purée: In a large heavy saucepan, combine the onion, tomatoes, green pepper and cilantro with the mashed manioc. Stir in the olive oil and coconut milk, then heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the cream begins to pull away from the bottom of the pan when you stir. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Prepare the shrimp: Rinse the shrimp well in plenty of cold running water. Drain. In a large, deep saucepan combine the drained shrimp, chopped garlic, salt, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, green pepper and the olive oil. Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently. When hot, add the coconut milk in 1/2 cup amounts, stirring after each addition to completely mix. Continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Add the reserved manioc puree to the shrimps and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Just before removing from the heat, add the dendê oil and mix it in completely. Remove from heat, pour into a decorative deep serving platter, sprinkle with additional cilantro if desired and serve immediately.