Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Feijoada - Brazilian black beans chilli stew

This is a great winter dish, ideal to be eaten on lazy Sunday brunches. The traditional Brazilian feijoada is basically well-cooked black beans with various (smoked) parts of a pig inside. It reminds me pretty much those witchy stews we watch as children in cartoons with frog legs, salamandra tails, etc. Our plant-based version is by far tastier and it does not leave you with any of the creepy feelings of the traditional dish. The end result should be a well spiced black bean dish with a smoked taste, creamy structure that contrasts with various textures from the vegetables, seitan, nuts, etc.


500g black beans
4 bay leaves
150 g pumpkin or sweet potato into cubes
100g burdock root, parsnip or salsify, cut into pieces
200g chestnuts (if they are already cooked, they can be added almost at the end)
100 g coarsely chopped hazelnuts
200 g smoked tofu sausage (or smoked tempeh) - optional
1 red chilli deseeded
Fresh (Thai) basil or cilantro
1 tbs freshly ground coriander balls
1 tbs freshly ground cumin seeds
1 t.s. allspice
1 tbs paprika powder (if you do not want to use smoked tofu or tempeh here you can use smoked Paprika powder - where I live, in Ghent it is found at Dille & Camille)
1,5 tbs sea salt (or to taste)
Chilli pepper flakes (or tabasco), to taste
Freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sinaasappelzest
Olive oil (add at the end)
Pieces of seitan or soy chunks, marinated with a little shoyu, ginger, paprika and chilli

Rinse the beans until the water comes out clean. Take out the stones and the bad beans. Cover the beans with filtered water and leave them 12 hours soaking. Pour away the water. Add fresh water to cook the beans. Cook them in a pressure cooker for more or less 20 minutes or cook for 1 hour, over low heat in a regular cooking pan. The cooking time may vary a bit, depending on the type of beans and on how fresh they are. Add the bay leaves, the coriander and cumin powder, pumpkin, burdock root and hazelnuts. Let it cook another 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft enough and the water has become a thick sauce. Add more water if needed during the cooking process. Remove the bay leaves and add the chestnuts, hazelnuts, meat substitutes if you choose to use them, chilli and possibly the orange zest. Let boil again for a few minutes before turning off the fire and to add the fresh basil (or cilantro).

Serve with (basmati) rice, lightly stir fried kale, orange slices and possibly with a typical Brazilian "vinaigrette" (a salad of diced tomato, onion or green apple, dipped in lemon juice or vinegar with olive oil, salt and spring onions)

To get the taste closest from the original Brazilian recipe it is important that the black beans are reasonably fresh. Old or poorly preserved beans will have an earth / mold-like flavor. There must also be something smoked as an ingredient or seasoning: either by adding smoked tempeh, tofu, seitan, veg sausages either by adding smoked paprika, smoked salt or natural "liquid smoke". Actually, you can use all kinds of winter vegetables in this stew: turnips, beets, daikon, etc. The most important thing is that there are different textures together with the beans.

Bon appetite!

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