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Archive for the ‘Portugese’ Category

Cataplana & Algarve Beaches

20 Oct

See food Cataplana.

Whats your traditional dish? A typical question any curious foodie would ask if one is in a foreign land. The famous one in Algarve region of Portugal is ‘Cataplana’.  Its interesting to observe how the food is prepared and served. It also reflects the life style of Portugese fishermen. Cataplana is prepared by steaming mixed seafood, vegetables and other aromatic ingredients together in a special pot (also called Cataplana). Although simple, the dish tastes excellent.  The process of steaming in a closed vessel retains all the juices from seafood & vegetables within the pot and it adds a natural taste to the dish. The fish doesn’t have to be perfectly cut. Just use whatever fish you may get it from sea. I liked the wholesome pot meal which is a balanced meal in itself.  The sauce goes well with Portuguese bread.

Cataplana is a dish cooked with seafood(fish, shell fishes..) and some sausages along with onion, tomatoes,garlic, olive oil and white wine. There are slight variations on what goes as a main ingredient to this dish. Fish Cataplana or Shell fish cataplana or Meat Cataplana. I observed that the meat one is an adapted one over some period.

We tried it in a Restaurant called ‘Millennium’ in Lagos during our last year trip.. Soon the restaurant became our favourite and we visited again this time as well. It was surprising to find out the ingredients from restaurant staff. It is closer to one of the traditional dish, Meen Kuzhambhu, from south indian fishermen community. In India, the sauce is prepared almost in the similar way minus the wine, plus tamarind,and spice powders in a clay pot. In Algarve, Corriander leaves are used and in the northern Portugal, Parsley is used for garnishing.

We enjoyed the dish along with Ciabatta bread, which was very close to the bread served in Restaurants in Algarve.

Ingredients:

  1. Mixed fish – 500 gms
  2. Mussels – 100gms
  3. Prawns – 100 gms
  4. Onion – 2 big
  5. Tomato – 4
  6. Olive oil – 2 Tbs
  7. piri piri sauce -1 Tbs
  8. Garlic -5 pods sliced
  9. Salt for taste as required
  10. Coriander for garnishing
  11. White wine – 1/2 glass
  12. Boiled potatoes – 100 gms (cubed or sliced)

Victoria See Barsh fish, Salmon fish, Pangasius fish, Prawns and Mussels.

Method:

1. Place the Cataplana pot on heat, add oil and once it is hot add garlic and saute for half a minute.

2. Add onion and saute until it is transparent. Add 2 chopped tomatoes and saute for a minute.

3. Grind the 2 tomatoes in to puree and add it to the pot.

4. Now arrange the seafood in the order they cook. The one takes longer time should go at the bottom and which takes short time like prawns or Muschels should go on the top layer.

5. Add the fish pieces in a layer and sprinkle some salt. Then add potatoes, Muschel and prawns on top layer and sprinkle some salt for this.

6. Add piri piri and add white wine. Close the lid and cook it covered for 10 minutes on a gas stove. Garnish with corrainder and switch off the stove.

My ceramic stove took nearly 25 minutes to finish cooking whole dish.(you also get the special cataplana pot for the induction stoves.). It would perfectly fit for a gas stove.

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Algarve Beaches

The south and south west region of Algarve is surrounded by beautiful beaches with rocky cliffs. Literally every 0.5km to 1 km you may find a beach, which has its own beauty. Meia Praia in Lagos is one of the longest beach in Algarve covering 4kms.  It is famous for water sports and wind surfing. The beach itself reminded me of ‘Marina’ beach in Chennai, India.

Meia Praia

Praia do Camilo Beach. This is one of our favorite beach with beautiful rocks and sea green water.

Praia do Camilo Beach.

Benagil Beach. A small beach but famous for Europe’s largest water caves (Will cover in next posts)

Faro Beach.

People enjoying last weeks of swimming period in Faro. (Swimming not allowed after September due to cold weather)

It was a beautiful experience to see Faro backwaters low tide and high tide changes. The boat happily floating during high tide and rests on sand during low tide as below.This change happens approx. every six hours.

Low tide Faro back waters.

Panoramic view of Porches beach.

Porches church and beautiful view of sea. Dont miss the beautiful sunset from here and bright fullmoon is an added bonus.

 

Destination Portugal! & Pastel de Nata (Portugese Egg Custard Tarts)

16 Sep
Yuhu!!…very happy to visit Portugal once again this year… Sweet memories of our last trip inspired us to make it again. We decided to go by car, as we love the beautiful landscapes when we cross borders of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. One way drive from our place(from south west of Germany) to Algarve region in Portugal is 2500kms. My hubby was very enthusiastic to drive the whole stretch and we especially like the contour variations that nature provides us with, especially in Spain and Portugal.

No traffic and less vehicles in Highways starting from Spain
As the journey is also part of our vacation, we wanted to enjoy every part of it. This was our Itenary- our home ->SanSebastian> Algarve(Our destination in Portugal)->Barcelona->home. we took sleep over break in intermediate destinations. SanSebastian is a cute destination, which we accidentally discovered in our last trip. It is a beautiful city along the sea coast (north of Spain). Barcelona is our ever favorite destination and we never miss an opportunity to visit Barcelona, where we stayed on our way back home.

Beautiful Mountain Landscapes and Olive trees everywhere…

Now coming to the landscapes and trees, the coniferous spiky trees  slowly disappearing and short varieties of shrub trees and olive trees everywhere until your eyes can reach . Mountains were green in France and slowly when you move down to Spain, the mountains where rocky and gets dry . Further down south, one can see Orange trees and lemon, olive trees and grape wines everywhere in Portugal. Figs,palm trees and eucalyptus are not to miss.
Fresh oranges from farm, sold on the road side, getting reminded of my home country, India. It was juicy and perfect to enjoy on a hot day. Mangoes were delicious and sweet.
Orange trees in Portugal

Oleander, Hibiscus, bougainvillea in different colors and varieties seems to be in most of the houses and in public gardens. During spring there are different kinds of flowers.
During September, the average temp has been ~28deg and it gets hot when you have to drive facing the sun. We badly needed an chilled lemonade or an watermelon juice. We got some lemon drink on the highway shop to chill down a bit.
One half of Algarve has beaches with rocky cliffs, other half of Algarve has dessert like beaches( olhau, Tavira). Every 1 km approximately you will find a new beach.
Chimney in every house is an essential exterior design

Pastel de Nata
This is a thin flaky pastry filled with egg custard flavored with cinnamon and Vanilla. One cannot miss this little cutie pie if you are in Portugal. Any bakery / pastry shop and even MCDonald’s has it in its Menu. Try this simple to make pastry and you will fall in love with it.
To have a perfect tart it has to have crispy and flaky outer layer, delicious and mild flavored egg custard. For the perfect looks, Pastel de Nata should be a little browned on top .
Ingredients:
  1. Pastry sheet – 1 (approx 40*20cm)
  2. Egg – 2(only the yellow)
  3. Milk -300 ml(Full fat milk)
  4. Sugar – 5 Tbs
  5. cinnamon powder – 1/2 tsp
  6. Corn starch – 2 Tbs
  7. Vanilla essence – few drops

Method:

1. Sprinkle 1/4 of Cinnamon powder on the pastry sheet and try to roll it to a long roll. ( I do this to get a thick layer of pastry rounds ,as my pastry sheet which was thin)

2. Cut this rolls in to 12 equal parts.

3. Take each one of these parts and keep them,  facing one of the cut part touching the board . Roll them to a small circle ,so that it fits in to the muffin molds.

4. Place the rolled circle pastry to the tins and adjust them to fit to the sides of the mold using your finger.

Egg Custard preparation Method:

1. Add 250 ml milk to the pan and heat it until it begins to boil.

2. In another bowl add egg yellow, sugar, corn starch and remaining 50ml milk and beat it well, so that there is no lumps.

3. Now slowly add this egg mixture to the milk and keep stirring.

4. When you notice the mixture gets thickening, switch of the stove and add 1/4 of cinnamon and Vanilla essence.

5. Allow the egg custard to cool and fill this mixture to the prepared pastry sheets in the tin.

6. Bake it for 15 min in at 180 deg in a preheated oven and another 10 min with the same temp in grill mode to achieve the dark color on top.

 

Chicken Piri Piri in my sytle…& Sagres(Western end of Europe)

05 Jan

Just recalling our trip to Portugal last year while writing this… Portuguese people are very warm and welcoming. We covered almost good part of south and traveled till Lisbon on the east. You can notice a good difference in culture &  food between south and upper Portuguese. The three common words we could hear very often in Portugal  is  ‘Obrigado ‘ , ‘ Ola’ and ‘Piri Piri’.  we had no idea of  any Portuguese until we arrived there. The first two words are thank you and hello.  Piri Piri is hot chili sauce made from bird’s eye chillies and  some  added spices. You may not miss this sauce in any of the restaurants there and they also warn you that its very spicy. This is something like Tabassco sauce but i find piri piri a milder and bit tangy one. This is also popular in African countries.

Basic ingredients in piri piri sauce are  fresh red chiilies, paprika,salt,lemon,vinegar,pepper.

Piri Piri Chicken is a popular chicken dish in Portugal. I spiced it up a little bit in my own way…I am using ready made Piri Piri sauce with slight addition of spices.

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken – 250 gms
  2. Piri piri sauce – 5Tbs
  3. Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
  4. White pepper – 1/4 tsp
  5. Orange food color a pinch( optional)
  6. Olive oil – 1 Tbs
  7. Salt as required for taste

Method:

1. Marinate the chicken with piri piri sauce with pepper little salt. Add the food coloring to get the bright orange color. Food coloring is optional.

2. Add oil to tbe hot pan and add ginger garlic paste and saute it for 2 min in medium heat.

3. Now add the marinated chicken and increase the heat to high. Cook for 3-5 min and incorporating oil and ginger garlic paste mixture on all sides of chicken. until a nice brown color coat.

4. Cover the pan and cook for another 10- 15 minutes in medium heat, after 10 minutes turn the chicken pieces into other side for covered cooking.

5. Once it is done, serve it warm with Piri Piri sauce.

we enjoyed this chicken with sauteed beans and sesame and baby cucumber.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————Sagres and some pictures : Located in Algarve Portugal, this place is famous for its beautiful beaches and one can visit the south western tip of europe. The beaches are are surrounded by big strech of mountains. There is also a light house and remains of 14th century sailing school.

Light house in Sagres, Portugal and South western tip of Europe.