We were enamored by the stories my sister-in-law returned with from her trip to Brazil.
The indescribable football frenzy.
The wilderness of the Amazon.
The gorgeous city panoramas from atop the Sugarloaf Mountain.
And of course the awe-inspiring Christ the Redeemer.
But what we could not stop discussing about, even weeks after she was back home, was Brazilian food.
And one lazy winter morning when my sister-in-law stirs up a rustic fish and shrimp stew for lunch, we are delighted.
Moqueca, that’s what it’s called, she explains once the bowls have been licked clean, and isn’t it stunning ?
The smiles say it all.
What a stark contrast, I muse, to the hearty Bengali fish stew that we all grew up loving.
Such incredible diversity and so much to explore in this vast universe of astonishing cultures and cuisines.
And ever since, the moqueca has been a regular fixture whenever we have craved for comfort food.
A piping bowl of the delicious stew. Some toast on the side.
And I am all set to snuggle under a quilt to binge-watch a show that’s been receiving rave reviews or to read the book that just arrived by post.
So when S and I plan seven different cuisines over seven days, I immediately know that one day has to be reserved for the hearty yet delectable moqueca, our favourite from the land of sunshine, samba and soccer.
Moqueca. A rustic cod and shrimp stew. The earthy sweetness of coconut milk. The heat of cayenne pepper. The freshness of green onions and coriander shoots. Comfort food at its best !!
Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)
- 250 g medium sized prawns deveined
- 250 g cod or any white fish cut into medium cubes
- 500 ml coconut milk
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 red bell peppers cut into small cubes
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes halved
- 7-8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 4-5 green chillies chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup green onions chopped
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves chopped
- 2 tsp cayenne powder
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp oil
- salt to taste
- Marinate the prawns with a little lemon juice , a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt, keep aside.
- Marinate the fish with a little lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt, keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Throw in the garlic, fry till light brown. Add the chopped onions, sprinkle the remaining cayenne pepper and a little salt, cook till the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomato purée, cook till the raw smell of tomatoes is not longer there.
- Add the bell peppers, throw in the chillies, cook for a minute or so.
- Lower the flame, gently pour in the coconut milk, bring to a gentle simmer, some 5 minutes or so.
- Add the fish and tomatoes, continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Finally add the prawns, cook for 5 more minutes over a low-medium flame. Adjust seasonings.
- Finish off with chopped green onions, coriander leaves and a dash of lemon juice.
- Allow the stew to rest for 10 minutes, for the flavours to infuse. Serve hot with buttered rice or toast.