Join me on a trip to South America and the history of curry in this beautiful region!
Historically, the term “curry” was used in British cuisine to denote dishes of meat in a Western-style sauce flavored with curry powder. This orginated I’m Indian sub-continent that used a complex combination of spices and herbs. Curry has been changed and altered all over the world. Often, curry is prepared in the form of a sauce. Curry dishes may contain meat, shellfish, fish, or poultry. Sometimes this is in combination with vegetables.
Brazil is a beautiful melting pot of cooking practices and traditions. Many waves of immigrants brought their typical dishes and altered the recipe. The recipes were altered by replacing the missing ingredients with local ones in order to keep down cost and adapt to the new land.
Based on my research, Curry in Brazil seems to be most used used in Northeastern Brazilian cuisine. When you look into this area it says there is a huge influence of African cuisine from coastal areas. However, this seems to be the area that used spices most similar to a “traditional” curry. Using spices such as coriander, turmeric, and chili powder to create similar flavors that have only been slightly adapted to the regions culture by adding ingredients such as coconut milk.
I looked into at least thirty or more recipes related to “South American Curry Dishes”. The closest I got was a Brazilian adaptation of a chicken curry dish. Please note that not all curry dishes have meat in them and can range in flavor from spicy to savory and even sometimes sweet.
I found a recipe from written by a woman named Jennifer. To give credit where credit is due, I will share a link to her page at the end. Personally, I am almost always on a budget, so I altered her recipe a bit to suit my wallet. The recipe is for Brazilian Chicken Curry with Spinach. I did use her suggested cooking directions. However, my ingredients are slightly different due to my budget and families dietary needs.
Brazilian Chicken Curry with Spinach
(Link to original recipe located in sources)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp fresh parsley (in place of coriander)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (in place of cumin)
1 – 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 ½ tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
8 in boneless skinless chicken filets (or 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut half lengthwise/butterfied)
2 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 green bell pepper
2 tsp fresh ginger minced (I used ginger paste)
2 small jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
3 fresh tomatoes seeded and chopped (could use drained canned diced tomatoes)
14 oz coconut milk
6 cups fresh baby spinach
- Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Stir together the parsley, turmeric ,chili powder, cayenne (use lower amount for less heat), salt and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl or plate. Pat chicken dry. Press chicken pieces in to the spice mixture to coat, then transfer to hot skillet. Cook, turning once, until browned, 6-8 minutes (Doesn’t need to be completely cooked, as it will be returned to cook some more). Remove chicken to a plate and cover loosely with tin foil to keep warm. (I did not have tin foil so I placed Pyrex bowl over my plate with a spoon under the edge to allow ventilation)
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet. Cook onion, ginger, Green bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes (I used the canned diced) and cook, stirring, until tomatoes are softened. (When using canned, add after the onions start to turn translucent and green bell pepper starts to soften) Stir in coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Return chicken to skillet and and juices. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened slightly. Add spinach and stir in. Cook just until spinach is wilted. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve over rice is desired.
Note: in order for a sweeter and more acidic curry, I added a 1 tbsp of pineapple juice to step 3. You don’t need much, a little went a long way in this dish.
I found this dish was best served with a white rice as it can hold up under the chicken. Also, it soaks up some of the curry allowing you to mix your food into a stir fry like meal. I cut my chicken up for playing in order to make it easier to mix and serve. Also, creating slivers versus leaving the fillet whole allowed me to make the meal a bit quicker. In my home even a fresh meal needs to be quick as we all have weird schedules. The original recipe says it takes approximately 35 minutes total to cook. I was able to keep my cool time to almost exactly 35 minutes from start to finish. Perfect quick meal to spice up the daily routine! Hope you enjoy!!
cumin substitute searched on google