This recipe hails from the Bahian state of northeastern Brazil, and is typical of the Afro-Brazilian cuisine of the region. Thickened with bread and ground nuts, it's no wonder this simple, yet comforting curry is hugely popular right across the country. While dendê oil adds a unique flavour to the dish, if possible, choose a sustainably produced oil.
- 8 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 110 g (¾ cup) roasted salted peanuts
- 115 g (¾ cup) roasted salted cashew nuts
- 500 ml (2 cups) good-quality fish stock or water
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 lime, juiced, plus extra lime wedges, to serve
- 1.5 kg fresh green prawns, peeled, cleaned
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 long red chillies, seeded, 1 roughly chopped, 1 finely chopped
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) dendê (palm) oil (see note)
- coriander leaves and steamed white rice, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink Coconut batida – a shaken cocktail with Sagatiba Pure Cachaça (700ml, $50)
Soak bread in 200 ml coconut milk for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Process nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Process soaked bread in food processor until smooth.
Bring fish stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, and add 1 garlic clove and lime juice. Add prawns and cook for 5 minutes or until just cooked. Transfer the prawns to a bowl, reserve 1½ cups stock and discard garlic clove and the remaining stock. Wipe the pan clean and reserve.
Process onion, the roughly chopped chilli and the remaining 2 garlic cloves in a food processor until finely chopped.
Heat oil in the reserved pan over medium heat. Cook onion mixture for 5 minutes or until golden. Add ground nuts and cook for a further 2 minutes or until golden, adding more oil, if necessary. Add bread mixture, reserved stock, remaining 200 ml coconut milk and 125 ml water, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Return prawns to pan and cook for 3 minutes or until heated through. Season, scatter with finely chopped chilli and the coriander, and serve with rice and extra lime wedges.
• Dendê (palm) oil is available from South American and African food shops, and delis. It is used for its distinctive flavour, bright orange colour and ability to be heated to high temperatures. Substitute vegetable oil mixed with 1 tsp ground turmeric.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 9, pg74.
Photography by Derek Swalwell