The Olympic flame is still burning on 196 flavors as we are celebrating Brazilian cuisine.
This mix of cultures and backgrounds is reflected in the flavors and aromas of Brazilian gastronomy. In this vast territory, each region has developed its own specialties and each state offers cuisines that reflect the unique landscapes and climatic conditions.
Indeed, the immense variety of fruits as well as fruit-based drinks or desserts are endless! Denise chose pineapple and coconut for her batida de abacaxi com coco, Mike opted for a papaya cream accompanied with blackcurrant liquor without forgetting the essential place of lime in his caipirinha. I personally chose coconut, one of my favorite fruits, for a delicious quindim.
Galinhada is the dish I chose to prepare today. A recipe that originated in the states of Minas Gerais and Goiás, and that is prepared mainly with rice and chicken.
The name comes from galinha, which is Portuguese for chicken.
Chicken actually came with the Portuguese, who were those who took the first steps to develop an agricultural system in the country. Today, Brazil is one of the largest exporters and producers of chicken in the world.
Chicken is one of the most consumed and abundant meat on the planet.
There are numerous races and varieties of chicken today. No less than 60 breeds and 175 varieties that all derive from the red junglefowl, native of Southeast Asia where it can still be found in the wild today.
It is in the nineteenth century that mass production started, and in the 1920s that henhouse factories are first established, in the UK, then in the US. At that time, chickens were not farmed for their meat, but for their eggs. When they were no longer productive enough, they were slaughtered for their meat to be sold.
By the 1950s, chickens farmed for their meat market largely outnumbered those farmed for their eggs.
By the end of the twentieth century, chicken was the most consumed meat in the West, more than any other animal, including beef, which until then, was the most consumed meat.
I chose to prepare galinhada in its most traditional form, namely with rice and chicken of course, but also with peas, green pepper and tomato, flavored with saffron, which is just as traditional as turmeric.
Variants of this dish are also prepared with tutu feijão (beans), guariroba (variety of bitter palm of hearts) as well as pequi (Brazilian fruit).
I must admit that I was very attracted to the recipe of one of the greatest chefs in the world, Alex Atala. The owner of restaurant D.O.M in Sāo Paulo, two Michelin stars and classified 4th best restaurant in the world has several very famous recipes but his most famous recipe is unquestionably that of galinhada. It is a recipe that he adapts in several ways and with different ingredients while using certain culinary techniques such as French and Italian, cuisines that he particularly likes.
But the catch is that Atala’s most famous galinhada recipe is not entirely traditional. For example, he uses paprika and annatto instead of saffron or turmeric as he marinates the chicken for 48 hours while a lot of basil. That said, it’s obvious that my next galinhada recipe will be one of Atala’s!
Mixing rice and chicken or other proteins is a common practice in many countries. This recipe reminded me of the famous jollof rice from West Africa, arroz con pollo from Costa Rica or even chicken magbous from Oman. On the fish side, arroz con bacalao from Panama and cod blaff from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are all similar recipes. And each country has its own history.
Galinhada is said to be the ultimate recipe to cure a hangover, similarly to chicken souse from the Bahamas.
- 6 chicken breasts , cut into chunks
- 2 cubes of chicken bouillon , diluted in ½cup water
- Juice of one lemon
- 5 tablespoons oil
- 2 scallions , finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , pressed
- 2 cups rice , washed and drained
- 2 tomatoes , peeled, cored and diced
- 1 green pepper , deseeded and diced
- 4 tablespoons peas
- A few saffron threads
- 1 tablespoon parsley , finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro , finely chopped
Mix the chicken, chicken bouillon, parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Marinate for 2 hours.
In a large pot, heat oil and brown the chicken pieces and the marinade for 3 minutes at high heat, stirring constantly.
Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add the rice, saffron, tomatoes, peppers, and peas. Mix well and cover with 3 cups of boiling water.
Stir well and cook covered for 15 minutes over low/medium heat, stirring gently so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Add a little boiling water during cooking if necessary.