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Street Food – Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

By Marcus Samuelsson | April 20, 2011

Do you have a great recipe for Swiss brezel, pannier  Jhal Mudi? You could have a chance to win a trip to New York! For more information about the competition go to the Street Food Competition site.

Its Portuguese colonial past, African slave history, Brazilian locals – Bahia de Salvador’s street food reflects its story as a land. Porto-Afro-Brazilian food has flavors not found anywhere else in the world.

Salvador’s coastal location and rich past are reflected in dishes like its moqueca, a 300-year-old recipe of slow-cooked, no-water-added stew made with seafood, onions, cilantro, garlic and tomatoes. A good quality moqueca should always be thick and delicious, not watery.

Then there is the acaraje. On every street corner of Bahia local ladies or baianas, dressed in the native dress of white long tunic and colorful headdress sell this ball of black eyed pea mash, deep fried in Bahia’s typical cooking medium of palm oil. The ball is then split open and stuffed with vatapa, a spicy creamy paste of bread, coconut milk, shrimp and peanuts. Often, it the vatapa will be steamed with caruru, a tossed dish of finely chopped okra cooked with palm oil, shrimp paste, cashews and other ingredients. Quite frequently, a simple salad and local hot sauce will will be stuffed in as well. The spicy sauce is made from a local cousin of the piri piri African pepper, the malagueta. These are pickled in vinegar for flavor and to reduce the intensity of the burn, before they are crushed with spices to make the condiment.  The healthier version of it is an abara, where the bean mash dumpling is steamed in banana leaves instead of being deep fried. Think of acaraje as North East Brazil’s falafel.

With the carnival coming up soon in March, it is a great time to plan a visit to try the variety of street food in Bahia. With over 25 thousand people on the streets for a two-week period, this is often called “the biggest street party in the world”. After the carnival visit Pelourinho, the once dangerous city centre, take in the beautiful architecture of this now UNESCO-protected heritage sight and dig in to the fritters and stews available everywhere.

Previous Street Food Articles:
Los Angeles
Bratwurst in Zurich, Switzerland
Zanzibar, The Spice Island
Fiskekyrka in Goteborg

Best Traveled Seafood, Singapore
Rabat, Morocco
The Perfect French Fry
Street Food Paris
Bia Hoi Shacks in Vietnam
Let’s Chaat
Jhal Mudi The Healthy Tasty Snack
Panini in Florence, Italy

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