Thursday, October 4, 2012

On the Road - Salvador - Pt. 2 - The Joy of Abará

As Julie Andrews once warbled, "Let's start at the very beginning, A very good place to start...". So, we're beginning our reportage on our recent visit to Salvador, Bahia with the item that's always first (alphabetically, at least) in any list of traditional Bahian dishes - abará. It's hard to think of anything that might proceed abará in an alphabetical listing of dishes - except aardvark, and they don't eat aardvarks in Bahia.

 Abará  is one of the foods that is most closely associated with the Afro-Brazilian religion of Bahia, Candomblé, and it's also one of the items that can always be found for sale by baianas, the traditionally-dressed black women who sell Bahian food, most notably acarajé, on streets, squares and beachfronts of Salvador.

In the rituals of Candomblé, which preserve the religious traditions brought from Africa to Brazil by slaves, abará is a favorite food of the orixá (divinity) Iansã, and offerings of food made to her invariably include abará. Iansã is the orixá of the River Niger in Africa, and of the wind, hurricanes and tempests. She is considered to be one of the most agressive of the female orixás and has dominion over the dead. In the syncretic tradition of linking orixás with saints of the Catholic church, she is identified with Santa Barbara and is worshiped as such in the Catholic churches of Bahia.

 There's nothing complex or complicated about abará - it's not a fancy or delicate food. But it does combine many of the most important ingredients of the Bahian pantry, which was large inherited from Africa. Basically, an abará is a soft batter made from black-eyed pears, flavored with bright orange dendê palm oil and cooked by being steams in a banana-leaf package. Sometimes ground dried shrimps are added to the batter for additional flavoring, but this isn't obligatory. Readers familiar with Mexican tamales will have a very good idea of what an abará is, as the two dishes are very similar. They differ in the mass used to create the dough - ground corn in the case of tamales and ground black-eyed peas in the case of abará. Although tamales are often stuff with a meat or chicken filling, abarás are not and resemble most closely those unstuffed tamales called "blind."

The list of ingredients that go into making abará is almost identical to acarajé. Both are based on the same batter, though in acarajé the batter is deep-fried in dendê whereas abará is steamed rather than fried and a small amount of dendê is stirred into the batter to flavor it. This makes abará slightly more healthy eating than acarajé, though it could never be considered health food.

In Salvador we sampled  abará at the famed Bahian buffet of SENAC, the public-private vocational school that can be found in any city in Brazil. In our next post, we'll look at the 40+ dish SENAC buffet in more detail. It's an edible encyclopedia of Bahian cuisine and an essential part of the Salvador experience.

(Click here for a recipe for abará  from an earlier posting on Flavors of Brazil).


  1. James, why do you say it isn't healthy if it's essentially made from cooked beans?

    1. I said that because of the presence of dendê oil, which is a highly saturated fat - something that most doctors say to eat only in minimal quantities.

  2. Chuyên tư vấn môi trường
    |Công ty môi trường
    |cong ty moi truong
    |cty moi truong
    |cty môi trường

    trang tải phim hd nhanh cung cấp những bộ phim hd chất lượng Full HD nhưng với dung lượng thấp nhất

  3. Obviously slaves taken from my country Nigeria took the abara with them to Brazil, we call it moi moi in my country pronounced ' moy moy' like in boy. It's not black eyed peas but brown beans. Here we at times put quarters or halves of boiled eggs or pieces of fried fish in the moi moi before steaming.

  4. Packers and Movers Bangalore - Reliable and Verified Household Shifting Service Providers Give Reasonable ###Packers and Movers Charges. Cheap and Best Office Relocation Compare Quotation for Assurance for Local and Domestic House Shifting and Get estimates today to save upto 20%, ***Read Customer Reviews - @ Packers And Movers Bangalore

  5. If you want to Fulfill your Erotic Desire with Our Girls, then you can book our sexy girls at a Very Affordable Price for you, and Our Services all times Available.
    Mahipalpur Escorts | Call Girls in Mahipalpur

  6. Nice Article, I Really Like The Way You Set Things Out In An Easy Way To UnderstandFree Forex Signals

  7. We provide a comprehensive overview of Fxit Stock including the latest price, news, dividend history, earnings information and financials. Wouldn't it be great if you could somehow consolidate all this critical data into a single source? Well now you can!

  8. Je ne suis pas vraiment un lecteur Internet pour être honnête mais vos blogs vraiment sympa, continue comme ça ! 에볼루션카지노 Je vais aller de l'avant et ajouter votre site à vos favoris pour revenir à l'avenir.

  9. Dbd Forums Overview: Stay ahead of the market with our live and real time stock market overview. Get all of your favorite stocks in one place, and get alerted to live news at the same time!

  10. Catch the Aces Fresenius Live Real Time Stock Market Overview, your one stop shop for Aces Fresenius information. Live prices are updated every 5 minutes, so you see all of the latest Aces Fresenius changes as soon as they happen. With a sleek and intuitive user interface, we strive to make your data experience easy.

  11. Simply Log Into Your Ati student login Account From Your Device Or Computer Browser To Manage Your Account. Doing So Will Allow You To Review Your Account Balance, Add A Refill Card, Make A Payment, And Much More.


  12. شركة نقل العفش الطائف
    العديد من شركات نقل العفش والتي توفر خدمات نقل وتخزين الاثاث والعفش هنا قائمة بافضل شركات نقل العفش ...
    والتنظيف اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث
    شركة نقل العفش بمكة
    شركة نقل العفش بالرياض
    شركة نقل العفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل العفش بتبوك
    شركة نقل العفش بالقصيم
    شركة نقل العفش بينبع


  13. شركات نقل عفش جيزان
    العديد من شركات نقل العفش والتي توفر خدمات نقل وتخزين الاثاث والعفش هنا قائمة بافضل شركات نقل العفش ...
    والتنظيف اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث
    شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
    شركة نقل العفش بابها
    شركة نقل عفش بنجران
    شركة نقل عفش بالباحة
    شركات نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركة نقل عفش الاحساء