A bit about Curry and Ginga

Perhaps the best way to introduce our blog is to say something about its title. 

On one hand, Curry and Ginga stands for the two cuisines discussed in this blog: curry, a staple Indian dish, represents our interest in that part of the world. Ginga, a Brazilian expression meaning to groove, speaks to our passion for Brazilian flavours (and our nationalities). On the other hand, we chose the name Curry and Ginga because our recipes often and unconventionally marry both culinary traditions - our curries have ginga and our Brazilian dishes are full of spice. 

What is more, these two cuisines are surprisingly compatible. Ingredients like peppers, coconuts, cashews, mangoes and banana leaves, for example, are prominent in recipes from either country. It seems that shared colonial histories (Brazil and regions of India were, in the past, Portuguese territories), a similar climate and maritime trade routes approximated India and Brazil's cuisines. As a result, not only do Brazilian and Indian flavours work harmoniously and deliciously well together, but they also make for the perfect opportunity to explore and discover new and interesting recipes. 

Ultimately, that is what Curry and Ginga is all about: borrowing from the best in Brazilian and Indian cooking to create original, mouth-watering dishes. 

Monday, 27 April 2009

Basmati rice cakes

In Brazil, rice cakes are a popular finger-food. Traditionally served at bars, they are prepared with long grain rice, soft cheese and spices. Maria Luiza and I, authors of this blog, are particularly fond of these rice cakes and we have them without fail alongside our cocktails when we go out in Sao Paulo. When making these the other day however, I decided to replace the long grain rice with basmati rice, and some of the traditionally used spices with Indian ones. The result was surprisingly delicious - an Indian flavoured rice cake worthy of being served at the best bars and pubs in Sao Paulo. We might just enter them in the city's next year's competition for the best rice cake recipes in town! 

Basmati rice cakes


2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp butter
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely diced chives
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground white pepper seeds
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp baking powder
cheese of your choice, in small cubes (we recommend gruyer cheese) for the filling
Sunflower oil

How to make:

1. Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water and leave it soaking in a bowl with two cups of water for at least 10 minutes. 
2. Put the remaining 2 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Add the butter, some salt, the bay leaves and turmeric powder to the pot and the remaining water and rice. When the rice has fully cooked, drain any excess water, remove the bay leaves and leave the rice to cool. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together all other ingredients (except for the cheese and oil). Add the cooked rice and stir everything together. Check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary. 
4. Roll the seasoned rice into small balls, filling each rice cake with a cube of cheese. 
5. Deep fry the rice cakes in sunflower oil until golden brown. 

Cocktail samosas

Potato and Heart of Palm Cocktail Samosas
(makes approximately 36 samosas)


Filo pastry 
Clarified butter
2 hearts of palm, chopped
2 medium sized potatoes, chopped
50 gr fresh garden peas
1 tablespoon flour
125 ml milk
1 lime
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
2 red chillies, seedless and chopped
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
Salt and pepper

How to make:

A. Heart of palm filling

1. In a pan, melt the butter and cook half the onions and bay leaves until the onions become transparent. 
2. Add the flour, and mix well until the onion and flour mixture becomes golden brown. 
3. Add the milk slowly to the mixture while stirring constantly. The end result should be a thick white sauce. 
4. Add the hearts of palm, season with salt and pepper, and turn the heat off. 

B. Potato filling

1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water and salt until soft. Drain and reserve. 
2. Do the same with the garden peas. 
3. In a frying pan, cook the remaining onions in one tablespoon of clarified butter.
4. Add the cooked onions, potatoes, peas, lime juice, the ground spices and chillies to a bowl and mash everything together. Season with salt and pepper. 

C. Assembling the samosas

1. Following the method seen in the video below, fold the samosas in sheets of filo pastry measuring 4cmx13cm. Use the potato filling for some and the hearts of palm filling for others. 
2. Place your potato and heart of palm samosas in a greased baking tray, brush each of them with melted butter, and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees celcius for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Spiced beetroot salad

We love beetroots at Curry and Ginga. Besides being highly nutritious (they are a natural source of vitamin C, A, potassium, iron and fibres), beetroots are delicious to eat and gorgeous to look at. If, like us, you're a beet fan, then try this Asian inspired, exceptionally nourishing salad that is just perfect for the summer months. 
Spicy beetroot salad:
(Serves 4)


600 gr cooked beetroots, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
100 ml coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
Sea salt and pepper 
Salad leaves (we recommend baby rocket and watercress)

How to make:

1. In a deep frying pan or wok, heat the oil and cook the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and chilli flakes for approximately 2 minutes. 
2. Add the beetroots, the coconut milk, the cardamom, the lime juice and zest and stir for about 3 minutes. 
3. Transfer the hot salad to a serving dish, season with salt and pepper, mix in the chopped coriander and leave to cool. At this point, you can either cover the dish and leave it in the refrigerator over night to allow the beets to marinate and absorb all the dish's flavours, or toss in the salad leaves and serve. I recommend leaving the beets to marinate, draining them, using the left-over juices to make a great salad dressing, and then tossing in the leaves and serving the salad with a generous drizzle of the dressing you have made. 

Prawn curry with sautéed pupunha (heart of palm)

Prawn curries are always delicious. Regardless of which variety you choose to make or order at a restaurant (in India there are several recipes - Goan, Malabar, Madras, etc), this dish is bound for success. In our version of this Indian classic, the curried prawns are accompanied by sautéed pupunha, or hearts of palm in English. Hearts of palm are commonly used in Brazil, particularly in salads, and have a mild taste and a creamy consistency when cooked. If you haven't had the pleasure trying this versatile vegetable before, we certainly recommend that you do. And why not try making them as in our recipe below, served with a tasty prawn curry?

Prawn curry with sautéed pupunha (heart of palm)
(serves 4)


12 large fresh prawns, cleaned
Juice of one lime
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
100 ml tomato puree
1/2 cup of water
3/4 green bellpepper, chopped
1 red chilli pepper, seedless and chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
100 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup toasted, chopped cashew nuts
1 pupunha, finely sliced length-wise
50 gr butter
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper 

How to make:

1.  Wash the prawns under running water. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen cloth or with kitchen towel paper. 
2. In a deep frying pan, heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and let these cook under low heat. 
3. When the onions begin to turn golden brown, add the garam masala and stir for around 2 minutes. 
4. Add the tomato puree, the bell peppers, the chilli peppers and water and, under high heat, stir all ingredients until the sauce begins to simmer. 
5.  Cover the pan with a lid and let the sauce cook for around 15 minutes under low heat. 
6. Add the coconut milk, half the cashew nuts and half the coriander to the sauce and leave it to simmer. 
7. In the meantime, boil the pupunha in a large pan of boiling water with a generous pinch of salt for around 5 minutes. Drain and reserve the pupunha while you finish the curry. 
8. Once the curry has slightly reduced, add the lime juice and increase the heat to high. As soon as the sauce begins to boil, add the prawns. Stir for around 5 minutes and turn the heat off so that the prawns do not over cook and turn rubbery. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. 
9. In a separate frying pan, quickly sauté the pupunha in butter. Season and add the chopped parsley. 
10. To serve, place some of the pupunha on a plate and cover with the prawn curry. Decorate with the remaining coriander and cashew nuts. 

Spiced pão de queijo (cheese bread)

Pão de queijo, which means cheese bread in Portuguese, is a wildly popular snack in Brazil. These small, cheesy, soft rolls are sold at bakeries and supermarkets, routinely served at steak/grill restaurants and invariably had alongside espressos at coffee shops. Surprisingly addictive (pães de queijo give new meaning to the expression 'once you start you just can't stop'), it is a real shame that these tasty cheese bites are not to be found outside Brazil. 
Perhaps the reason why it is so hard to come across pães de queijo anywhere else is that the main ingredients are frustratingly difficult to find. Pães de queijo, to begin with,  are not made with wheat flour but with a special type of mandioc flour called "polvilho." To be exact, polvilho is mandioc startch. Now, although polvilho might be hard to find, it is definitely worth the search and it can at times be found in specialist stores. It is also sold occasionally through online food distributors. For those readers who don't want to go through the trouble of finding polvilho, I've been told tapioca flour is a good substitute. 
Making pão de queijo abroad can also be complicated because it is nearly impossible to find the cheese (called meia-cura) used in its recipe. Fortunately, however, this ingredient can easily be substituted by other mild tasting cheeses such as gruyere, or, for a stronger taste altogether, with parmesan. Having said something about pães de queijo's ingredients, it should be noted that the recipe given bellow is unconventional. To keep with our blog's theme, we have added a pinch of curry powder to our recipe to give our Brazilian cheese breads an Indian twist. The end result is a batch of unpredictably scrumptious cheese rolls that will simultaneously surprise and please the palate. 

300 gr "polvilho doce" (mandioc startch) or tapioca flour (You might need a little more if using the tapioca flour)
1/2 tablespoon salt
80 ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon butter
125 ml whole milk 
125 ml water
1/4 of a "meia-cura" cheese, grated OR a handful of grated gruyere and a couple of pinches of parmesan cheese. 
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or garam masala powder for a different end result).

How to make:

1. In a large bowl, mix the "polvilho", the salt and the garam masala/curry powder. 
2. In a saucepan, bring the milk, water and oil to a boil. Make sure to turn the heat off as soon as the mixture boils. 
3. Add the butter to the saucepan, mix well, and add the contents of the pan to the the bowl containing the dry ingredients.
4. Using a spoon or a kitchen blender, blend/knead the mixture together for approximately 10 minutes. Only use a kitchen blender if it is powerful enough to knead dough. 
5. When the dough has cooled, add the whisked eggs and cheese and knead the dough with your hands until if feels smooth and no longer sticky. Leave the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes. 
6. While the dough rests, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius or 356 degrees farenheit.
7. Using your hands, roll the dough into small, ball shaped pieces and place these on a greased baking tray. Bake them for about 20-30 minutes or until they turn golden brown. 
8. Serve hot. 


Pães de queijo should be eaten while still hot. Cold, or re-heated paes de queijo will not taste as good. If you feel you have made too much dough, simply place the already shaped pães de queijo on a tray and freeze them. Once frozen, store the pães de queijo in a zip lock bag and consume within the month.  Make sure to defrost the dough before cooking. 

Garam Masala

A masala, in India, stands for a mixture of spices and herbs which is traditionally either store-bought or hand crafted at home. A staple ingredient in Indian cooking, masalas (each made using a particular combination of fresh and dry spices) make cooking curries and other dishes substantially easier. Garam masala, in particular, made from spices such as cardamom, cinamom and pepper, is widely used and imparts dishes with a pleasing, warm, aroma. Garam, as a matter of fact, means hot in Hindi. 

Garam Masala

6 gr cinnamon
6 gr de clove
6 gr de black pepper
2 gr cardamon seeds
1 bay leaf
3 gr coriander seeds
3 gr cumin seeds

How to make:
1. In a frying pan, heat the seeds, cloves and pepper until they are lightly roasted.
2. Place the roasted ingredients and the remaining spices in a food processor or coffee grinder and grind the ingredients until smooth and powdery.
3. Store the garam masala in a air-tight container and use it within six months. 

The recipe given above should serve as a guideline for anyone interested in making their own garam masala. However, feel free to add your own spices to the list above. Fennel seeds and mace, for example, work beautifully with the standard spices already mentioned.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is a typical (and delicious) Indian dish comprised of chicken pieces marinated in a yoghurt and spice mixture and grilled in a tandoor oven. Temperatures inside the oven come close to 500 degrees Celcius and, as a result, the chicken cooked in the tandoor is superbly tender and juicy. Most of us living outside (or even in) India, however, do not have access to a tandoor, but this should not discourage you from trying this simple but amazingly tasty dish. Simply barbecue the chicken instead or bake it in a hot oven. 

Tandoori Chicken


4-6 chicken thighs and drumsticks, skinless
300 ml natural whole yoghurt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 a tablespoon hot chilli powder
A few drops of tabasco sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
Salt to taste

How to make:

1. Clean the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and slit all pieces with a sharp knife. 
2. In a bowl, mix all other ingredients and add the chicken making sure to coat all pieces evenly with the marinade. If possible, leave the chicken marinating over night.
3. Grill the chicken pieces on a hot barbecue or in a pre-heated oven to 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 20 minutes, checking to make sure it does not burn. 

Mandioquinha (Arracacha) Bombay

If you enjoy Indian cuisine it is very likely that you have tried bombay potatoes before, and,  if you have, it's likely you're already a fan. A popular side dish in India but also around the world, this potatoes and spices recipe compliments roasts and curries beautifully. At Curry and Ginga, however, we like to mix Indian and Brazilian flavors and, as a result, our recipe uses mandioquinha rather than potatoes as a main ingredient. Native to South America, mandioquinha or arracacha as it is called in Spanish, is a root vegetable largely commercialized in Brazil that is yellow in color and rich and sweet in flavor. And, although it might be difficult to find mandioquinha outside South America, it is worth the search and effort if you can find it. Prepared with spices and a rich tomato sauce, our mandioquinha dish at once resembles and differs from the original bombay potatoes and makes for a superb side dish.  

Mandioquinha Bombay


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
500 gr peeled, diced and paraboiled mandioquinha
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
A 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander
1 garlic clove, chopped
250 gr cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon tomato extract
1/4 red chilli pepper, de-seeded and diced
1/2 cup water

How to make:

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and add the bay leaf and the mustard seeds. Cover the pot so that the seeds don't split and jump out of the pot. 
2. Add the ginger, the onions and the garlic and wait for the onions to turn golden brown.
3. Add all other powdered spices and mix well. 
4. Add the tomatoes, the tomato extract, the paraboiled mandioquinha and the water and allow everything to cook until the mandioquinha turns soft. Add more water if necessary to ensure the pot does not dry up. 
5. When all the vegetables are soft and the tomatoes have formed a rich sauce, and the chilli pepper and coriander and serve hot. 

Chilled cucumber and fenugreek soup

Chilled soups make for excellent starters during hot summer days and with spring nearing its end we decided to post this mouth-watering cucumber and fenugreek soup recipe for those fighting off the heat. Quick and superbly easy to make, this cucumber soup is nevertheless deliciously unique because of its contrasting ingredients (such as yoghurt and chilli powder) and its use of ground fenugreek. Native to the south of Europe and India, fenugreek has a bitter-sweet aroma and adds an oriental flavor to our otherwise western recipe. Low in calories, nutritious and cooling, we recommend this soup to anyone who's starting to feel the heat!

Chilled cucumber and fenugreek soup
(Serves 2)


350 ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
200 gr natural yoghurt
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder
2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves plus a couple more for decoration

How to make:

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture. Chill the soup in the refrigerator and serve cold. Decorate with the remaining mint leaves and serve with naan bread. 

Beijinho de coco (coconut kiss) with cardamom

Beijinhos de coco, or coconut kisses, are a typical Brazilian sweet made from condensed milk and coconut. As popular with adults as it is with children, coconut kisses are a staple dish at birthday parties and at bakeries. Given the beijinho's popularity in Brazil, we thought it appropriate to inaugurate our blog with a recipe for this sweet. But, because Curry and Ginga is a blog about Brazilian and Indian cuisine, our recipe comes with a twist: crushed cardamom seeds. A typical indian spice, cardamom adds a subtle aroma of lemons and eucalyptus to this Brazilian dessert without altering too much its original taste. 

Beijinho de coco (coconut kiss) with cardamom
(makes approximately 30 units)


600 gr condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons grated desiccated coconut plus extra to decorate
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder*

How to make:

In a saucepan, mix the condensed milk, the coconut milk, the butter and the cardamom under a low heat. Mixing constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. When the mixture stops sticking to the bottom of the saucepan turn the heat off and add the desiccated coconut. Mix well and leave the sweet to cool. Once cold, roll the sweet into small sized balls and roll these in desiccated coconut to decorate. 

* Try not to use store bought powdered cardamom but crush the seeds yourself at home just before you begin to cook.