Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RECIPE - Bahian Farofa with Dendê (Farofa de Dendê)

All Brazilian farofas combine manioc flour (farinha) with some sort of fat or oil to moisten and flavor the dry, lightly-flavored flour. The fat can be melted butter or lard, it can be rendered bacon fat, or it can be a liquid oil like olive oil or neutral vegetable oil.

In the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, where the local style of cooking evidences a strong African influence - a heritage of the history of slavery in Brazil - the oil typically used in making farofa is the shockingly-orange, highly-flavored palm oil called dendê, which came from West Africa with the very first slaves bound for Brazil's gold mines and sugar plantations.

This recipe from Bahia also adds another typically West African flavor to the manioc and dendê mixture - dried shrimps. With a strong flavor of the sea, the small, dried crustaceans are finely chopped or ground into a flour to add one more of Bahia's essential flavors to this dish.

Bahian dendê farofa, along with white rice, is the perfect accompaniment for any of Bahia's marvelous moquecas - fish or seafood stews, redolent of coconut milk, cilantro and dendê.

There is no adequate substitute for any of the main ingredients in this dish, though manioc flour (farinha), dendê and dried shrimps can often be found in Latin American and African markets in cities which have immigrant communities, and dried shrimps can also be found in most Asian markets.
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RECIPE - Bahian Farofa with Dendê (Farofa de Dendê)
Serves 6

1/2 cup (125 ml) dendê oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 oz. (100 gr) dried shrimp
2 1/2 cups dried manioc flour (farinha)
salt to taste
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Finely mince the dried shrimp with a large knife or cleaver, or, alternatively, grind them in a spice grinder.

Heat the dendê in a large frying pan, the add the chopped onion and cook until the onions are soft and golden. Add the minced or ground shrimp and stir well to combine. Add the manioc flour in a steady stream, stirring all the while to moisten all the flour. When the farofa is dry and the grains are separated, season with salt, then continue to toast the farofa for a minute or two, stirring constantly.

Serve immediately as part of a Bahian-style meal.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.

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