Brazilian Feijoada

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Brazilian Feijoada
Brazilian Feijoada

Introduction

Feijoada, a flavorful stew of beans and pork, is called the national dish of Brazil. Typically served at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays, this hearty meal is a thick mixture of beans, fresh and smoked meats plus seasonings. Feijoada is such a heavy dish that the only recommended activity after eating is napping. Also, it’s recommended to wash it down with caipirinha.

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The origin of Brazilian feijoada

A popular myth states that the Brazilian feijoada was a luxury dish of African slaves on Brazilian colonial farms, as it was prepared with relatively cheap ingredients (beans, rice, collard greens, farofa) and leftovers from salted pork and meat production.

However, historians consider that feijoada is a Brazilian version of stews from Southern European countries and traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes (cozidos) like those from the regions of Estremadura and Trás-os-Montes are the ancestors of Brazilian feijoada. The earliest printed references to the dish appeared in the mid-19th century, based on menus of upper-class.

Traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes
Traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes

It has evolved to include Portuguese and native Indian influences. Nowadays it is elaborated with many different smoked and sun-dried meats, smoked sausage and served with a number of side dishes, including sliced oranges, cold cuts, farofa (stir-fried manioc flour), couve mineira (thinly sliced kale) and white rice.

Couve mineira
Couve mineira

The name is derived from the Portuguese word for bean, ‘feijão’. Black beans are most commonly used, but depending on the region, feijoada can be made with any dried bean. Some regional feijoadas may be accused of not being the  ‘true’ feijoadas,  i.e. Feijoada Completa,  as the peoples of the various regions use whatever local produce which is available,  but whatever the modifications, the basics are the same.