By Lindenberg Junior | English Edition by Ann Fain
My last visit to Salvador, Bahia was only for a couple days for a business meeting, but in that short time, I experience Bahia’s soul food and its magical music. The music caressed my spirit, sang in my heart, danced inside and out of me; the rhythms riveted me to attention, pricked my nature, and rocked my soul. The culinary delights that Bahia serves brought out my great passion for food and the amazing art of creating it. Both the cuisine and the music got me inspired!
On a Friday afternoon while enjoying a “cafezinho” (Brazilian coffee) with pao de queijo (cheese bread) and shopping and strolling through the folk art district known as the Pelourinho, I stopped to enjoy a samba de roda with beautiful “morenas” taking turns dancing while a trio of afro-Brazilian percussionists played. At their side was a “baiana” selling her acaraje, a mashed bean small cake stuffed with peppers, dried shrimp, onions and ginger, and served with vatapá, a puree of fish or shrimp (check the easy recipe bellow).
I watched the enchanting performance, sang and enjoyed the pleasurable moments for over half hour. During the break, I decided to order an acaraje from the “baiana” and follow my destiny… inspired by the drums, the chants and the orixa songs… eating my acaraje…and thinking… Brazilian cuisine is a rich variety of flavors and colors adapted to local ingredients, which is unique, delicious and sometimes exotic. Because Brazil is so vast, each region has its specialties.
Fast forward to my home in L.A., I decided to use my kitchen for new experiences, and in particular, to make my own version of acaraje – in an easy and alternative way to…”matar a saudade” da Bahia!
Ac arajé 123
40 Minut es – 6 People
* 7 table spoon of veggy broth
• 500 grams of blackeyes beans
• 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
• 3 teaspoons (tsp) salt
• 1 ½ teaspoon (tsp) garlic sauce
• 350ml of palm oil
*Tip: Garlic sauce can be easily found in Latino markets or Cuban foods shelves.
• 3 malagueta peppers, finely chopped
*1 tomato, cut into small chunks
• ½ cup (tea) of dried shrimp without shells
• 1 cup (tea) of palm oil
• 2 medium onions chopped
• 1 / 12 teaspoon (tsp) salt
• ½ teaspoon garlic sauce
*Tip: malagueta is a Brazilian type of pepper, and as alternative you can substitute it for 1 medium size Serrano pepper or another “flavorful” pepper of your preference.
How to Prepare
Start the preparation the day before. Place the beans in a bowl and cover them with water and soak for at least 12 hours. After 12 hours, drain and rub the grains between your palms to loosen the skins. In a blender place the beans, onion, garlic sauce, 2 tbl spoon of broth, salt (to taste) and blend well until you get a dough, set it aside. In a deep skillet, heat the palm oil over medium heat. Take 2 tablespoons of the dough and form “rounded” acarajés then fry them slowly in the palm oil until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Put the pepper and half of dried shrimp in a blender, add the 5 tablespoons of vegetable broth and blend until smooth. Put aside. In a small saucepan heat the palm oil over high heat and sautee the onion until golden brown. Add the mixture of dried shrimp, the remaining whole shrimps, the tomatoes chunks and season with salt and the garlic sauce.
Cut each acarajé in half, put the sauce inside and get a “fresh” taste of Bahia!