Feijão, or in english, beans, are an important part of the Brazilian diet. Paired together with rice, beans are eaten at lunch and dinner throughout the whole of Brazil. Walk into any house, at anytime, and there will either be a new batch of beans cooking on the stove or leftover beans waiting to be reheated in the fridge. Beans are so important to the Brazilian diet that there is even a popular expression for when you bring unexpected guests for lunch or dinner: ‘Bota água no feijão!’ This expression literally means: ‘Time to water down the beans’ meaning that the beans need to be watered down so that they will stretch a little bit further.
Brazilians eat beans for lunch and dinner. Lunch in Brazil is the big meal of the day and most people have a light dinner or eat leftovers from lunch. Beans are eaten together with rice, vegetables, and protein. My favorite simple Brazilian meal is: rice, beans, collards, and beef.
There are many different types of beans in Brazil. The most popular type of bean is called feijão cariocinha, a bean that is similar to the pinto bean. Most parts of the country use feijão carioquinha in their everyday cooking. In Rio de Janeiro though, the everyday bean is the black bean; the rest of the country only uses the black bean for Brazil’s national dish called feijoada, a bean stew with beef and pork (recipe will come soon). The other types of beans that are used and can be found in Brazil are “jalo”, “fradinho”, “rosinha”, “bolinha”, “branco”, “verde”, “azuki” and “roxinho” (I love all these names and just had to share them!).
Although beans are so popular in Brazil, I was not immediately sold on the idea of eating beans when I first traveled to Brazil in 2005. Not having been raised on a bean diet I did not like eating them at all. Something in the flavor and consistency of beans didn’t appeal to me. On my first trip to Brazil I didn’t go close to beans: I didn’t buy beans, I didn’t cook beans, and I didn’t eat beans (I think that my aversion to beans must have caused my husband some withdrawal symptoms as he absolutely loves beans!). Sitting at the table with friends I was always the odd person with my beanless (yes, I just made that a word) plate. And, I was often met with strange looks when I told people that I did not eat beans.
But, luckily for my husband, I now eat beans and really enjoy them. Full of wonderful flavors, a good side of beans can add extra taste and nutrition to a meal. Also, having beans and rice ready in the fridge (I always make batches that will last for several days) makes cooking lunch or dinner much easier as half of the meal is already cooked.
Beans in Brazil are commonly cooked using a pressure cooker and are only seasoned after they are cooked. Beans take a long time to cook and using a pressure cooker cuts a lengthy process down to about 45 minutes. Brazilians use pressure cookers for a lot of their cooking and every house has one. Although a little scary to use at first I have come to love my pressure cooker and wouldn’t know what to do without it. If you don’t have one GO GET ONE you will be grateful you did!!!!!
To make the perfect rice to go with your beans take a look at my Brazilian Rice Recipe!
2 cups dried beans
12 cups water
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 – 5 slices of bacon, finely chopped
handful of chopped parsley
handful of chopped scallions or spring onions
salt to taste
Place beans and water in a pressure cooker. Cook over medium heat, when pressure has built up leave for 40 minutes. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, put the beans in a large bowl, cover with water (at least 1 inch above the level of the beans) and leave them overnight to soak. Boil in a pan of water with the lid on until cooked through.) Remove beans from stove, release all pressure from the pressure cooker and let sit with the lid off. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a deep pan so that it covers the bottom. Place over low heat and add onions when oil is warm. Sauté onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the bacon and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. At this point you can add the beans together with all of the liquid. Increase the heat to medium and stir well. While stirring crush beans on the bottom and side of the pan with your spoon, this helps to make a thicker bean sauce. Add the parsley, spring onions, and salt. Boil for an additional 15-20 minutes. Serve together with rice (for recipe click here).
For PDF of this Recipe CLICK HERE!