‘Vatapa’ Bahia’s Nut Puree with Prawns

‘Vatapa’ Bahia’s Nut Puree with Prawns

Extremely exotic, this Afro-Brazilian icon is another creamy and rich dish from Bahia made with xerem (a mixture of ground peanuts and cashew nuts), coconut milk and red palm oil (dende). This dish is so popular in Brazil that even the great composer and singer Dorival Caymmi cleverly turned into tribute song with the same name. He provides the recipe ingredients and some cooking tips and sets the tone that a good Vatapa must be stirred regularly, so it doesn’t go lumpy or burn. Dorival is absolutely right: Vatapa is so delicious that a song is more than deserved. You will also agree with him when you cook it and the irresistible aromas of palm oil, nuts and coconut milk start to float in your kitchen. Commonly used as a filling to the Acarajé fritters (recipe coming soon) or eaten with seafood or chicken, it can also be served as an exotic dip.  Ingredients  Prawns: 1kg prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic 1 long red chilli, finely chopped 1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped Vatapa Puree: 250ml of coconut milk 100ml hot water 8 slices white block, crusts removed 1 cup toasted and unsalted peanuts 1 cup toasted and unsalted cashew nuts 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 2 long red chillies 4 large tomatoes, skinless and roughly chopped 50g dried Thai shrimp* 80ml red palm (dende) oil** 1 piece ginger (3 cm), grated Pinch of nutmeg Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste 1 red chilli (extra), sliced, to garnish Lime wedges, to serve Brazilian-style rice (recipe...
Brazilian Coconut Tea Cake and 20 Facts about the City of Salvador

Brazilian Coconut Tea Cake and 20 Facts about the City of Salvador

When I decided to make this coconut cake recipe I immediately thought about Bahia, an exuberant state located in the North-East of Brazil. Typical images of Bahia: rows of coconut trees and the beautiful sunset, all images of Bahia by my friend Thelicia (thanks Theli!) I’ve been to Bahia many years ago for an university conference and was enchanted by the people, strong cultural heritage and the history of its capital Salvador. I stayed in a nice and charming bed and breakfast near the city centre. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name but it was an old Portuguese-style house hidden at the end of a steep lane. There was a small garden at the front and a set of narrow stairs that led people to the main entry. The B&B was run by two ladies dressed as typical baianas. The cosy decoration reminded me of an old Brazilian country house, the rooms had high ceilings and dark timber floors. The big windows on the living areas were kept open during the day and fresh air would circulate giving almost an outdoor feel to the place. In the bedrooms, there was predominantly dark timber furniture, bedspreads and linens were white and there were lots of colourful paints of local artists on the light blue walls. Breakfast was served in little room in the middle of the house and every morning the table was covered with tropical fruits and a selection of home-made quitutes (or treats) like sweet corn pudding, cassava bread and a super moist coconut cake. More images of Salvador, Beacon, Church and the Bonfim’s Church fence covered with bracelets of  “Nosso Senhor do Bonfim”. Considered an amulet the bracelet is a popular souvenir of Salvador...
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

In my opinion, this is the best street-food that Brazil can offer. I still remember when I went many years ago to sunny Salvador in Bahia state and bought them straight from the very friendly Baianas of Acarajé: the gorgeous cooks who make these fritters in a street cart. Baianas are very easy to spot in the streets of Salvador as they are dressed in long white dresses with a wide skirt made with layers of lace. On the head they wear a white turban and with the clothes lots of colourful bangles and necklaces. This costume dress has African influence and is related to the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé. The dishes of the state of Bahia are the most famous in our country and many traditional foods like bobó, moqueca and vatapá essentially have red palm oil (dendê), chilli, coconut milk, coriander and seafood. These dishes are offered to gods during sacred rituals of Candomblé. When baianas are dressed in colourful clothes they are called Baianas of Tourism. In Rio’s carnival parade every samba school has a special wing dedicated to Baianas and they wear the same dress and turban but made with shiny colourful fabric and lots of sparkly beads. Carmen Miranda, the late Brazilian star who is known for her tutti-frutti hat and flamboyant style got inspiration from baianas to create her style. She became a Hollywood star singing and dancing songs about Brazil in the Hollywood musicals of the 40s. Both the typical baiana’s dress and acarajé are very important to Brazil’s culture and are heritage-listed. Acarajé is often filled with dried or fried prawns, vatapá and chilli sauce. Because they are a bit plump,...
Cashew Nut

Cashew Nut

The cashew nut is the seed of the cashew fruit. In Brazil is particularly used to make sweets like bon-bons, truffles and pralines. Available from most supermarkets. List of recipes of this website using cashew nuts: Chocolate and Cashew Nut Shots with Mini Truffles Romeo and Juliet Goat’s Cheese and Guava Paste Panna Cotta Avocado Ice-Cream with Cashew Nut Brittle Vatapá Nut Puree with...
Coconut milk

Coconut milk

The artisan coconut milk is a liquid obtained by grating the meat of brown coconut, soaking it in water and then squeezing the  mixture using a muslin (cheese cloth). For Brazilian recipes preferably use either artisan or canned coconut milk. Available from supermarkets and grocery stores. List of recipes of this website using coconut milk: Brazilian Coconut Tea Cake Crumbed ‘Cuddled’ Prawns with Mango and Coconut Salad Coconut Mousse with Pineapple Flowers Manjar Prune and Coconut Cocktail Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé) ‘Vatapa’ Bahia’s Nut Puree with Prawns Moqueca: Bahia’s Fish Stew ‘Bobó’ Prawns in Cassava and Palm Oil Sauce  ...