The challenge for May at Chefs Across Boundaries is Brazilian food and it had me quite excited. I have never cooked anything Brazilian and I doubt I've ever eaten any Brazilian dish (at least nothing comes to mind as I write this). I don't have any books on Brazilian cuisine and so I turned to the Internet.
After Googling around and not finding anything that I liked or felt was suitable I turned to Pinterest. And that's where I found this lovely fish stew - Moqueca. A light coconut gravy, no spices - just salt and pepper, fish and a few flavourful ingredients; it seemed perfect for the awfully hot weather we're having these days. I read quite a few recipes and what I liked is how flexible you can be with the sea food. Prawns, assorted white fish, squid- I could use whatever was at hand. Another thing that made me pick this dish is that it had no hard to acquire exotic ingredients and what I didn't have I could easily substitute without going too far from the original.
Moqueca is an old traditional Brazilian preparation that is ideally cooked in a clay vessel. This recipe, which uses coconut milk, is from the Bahia region of Brazil and is also known as Moqueca Baiana. You will need to to cook it in palm oil for complete authenticity.
The stew is really easy to make. Essentially you just layer up the ingredients step by step as you go, pour in the liquids, and then just cover and let it simmer till it's done. With hardly any stirring or supervising the moqueca practically cooks itself! This one is a keeper, trust me.
Here's my tweaked desi version of the beautiful Brazilian fish stew - Moqueca.
6 - 8 boneless pieces Bhetki
8 -10 fresh prawns, cleaned and deveined
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
4 -6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 fresh green chillies, roughly chopped. Use jalapeno if you have it
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder. Use Paprika if you have it, and a some cayenne if you have that too.
1 cup coconut milk. I used Maggi coconut powder
1 cup water or stock
1 lime, zested
1 spring onion, chopped fine
Marinate the fish and prawns in salt and set aside.
In a wok heat the olive oil, a couple of tablespoons at least. Once the oil is hot chuck in the peppers, chillies, onions, tomato, and the garlic and let it all fry for a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat so the garlic doesn't burn. Once the onions have softened and turned translucent add the chillli powder and stir.
Place the fish pieces and the prawns on top. Cook covered for a couple of minutes. Then pour the stock/water and the coconut milk into the wok. Add the lime zest and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook till the fish and prawns are done.
Remove to a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped fresh spring onion greens and serve on a bed of hot rice with a couple of lemon wedges.