Goan Feijoada

My Goan stepmother is a talented and adventurous cook. The last time we were visiting with her and my dad in Goa, she pulled out some pink beans from her pantry and introduced them to us as “Portuguese beans.”

While Indian cuisine is rich in all sorts of beans and legumes, pink beans are not something I had ever encountered before in India (although I always have them in my pantry here in the United States). No wonder my stepmother was proud of her find. She used them that afternoon to cook up a delicious, coconut-based curry very much like this Feijoada I have for you today– a dish Goa adopted and adapted from its Portuguese colonizers.

Half a century after the Portuguese left Goa, their memory lingers on. You can hear it in the names of Goans and in their language, see it  in the beautiful churches and buildings that dot the landscape, and taste it in Goan cuisine which includes dishes like Xacuti, Balchao, and Vindaloo.

The food of former colonies like Goa offers an interesting study in how occupiers cross-pollinated culinary traditions across the distant lands they held. Those food legacies were readily embraced by the natives and they persisted long after the occupiers left, as opposed to other colonial legacies that were unwelcome and are deliberately erased or lost over time. The names of cities, for instance, are easily changed back to what they used to be, and political forces even attempt to rewrite history books to put a spin on events. But connections forged through food linger and are embedded unshakably within cultures, impossible to erase. In fact, who would want to?

People here in the United States might recognize Feijoada as a meat-and-sausage stew that is often referred to as Brazil’s national dish–yes, the Portuguese took it there too. But the Goans added to their version the signature ingredients of their own cuisine, like coconut, tamarind, and warm, fragrant spices. The result was a delicious stew that’s easy to veganize without losing an iota of flavor.

My stepmom’s version is entirely vegan, although I added some vegan sausage to my translation for two reasons: the traditional Goan Feijoada, cooked usually by the state’s Christian population, does contain pork sausage. Second, I just wanted more protein in my curry. You could leave out the sausage if you wish and the stew would be no less delicious.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Goan Feijoada

(Makes four servings)

Ingredients

1 cup pink beans or pinto beans (red beans are fine too). Soak the beans overnight and cook them until tender but not mushy. Alternately, use two cups of canned beans, rinsed thoroughly.

2 vegan sausage links (optional). Chop lengthwise into 1/2-inch rounds

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 red chilies (use less if you’re sensitive to heat)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

10 cloves

10 peppercorns

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp tamarind pulp. Alternately, soak a 1-inch ball of tamarind in 1/4 cup warm water for 30 minutes and extract the pulp by crushing the tamarind between your fingers. Discard the solids.

1 cup shredded or grated coconut (use 1 cup coconut milk if you don’t have this)

Salt to taste

Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Heat a saucepan. Add the red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves. Dry-roast the ingredients for five minutes over medium-low heat until fragrant and a couple of shades darker.

Remove the ingredients to a blender. In the same pan, dry-roast the garlic until golden-brown spots appear. Add to the blender. Then roast the grated coconut over low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly golden. Add to the blender along with 1 cup water. If you are using coconut milk just skip the roasting step and add the coconut milk directly to the blender.

Blend the masala until you get a smooth paste.

Add oil to the same saucepan.

Add the chopped onions and saute, stirring frequently, until they start to turn golden-brown.

Add the sausages, if using, and saute until they start to get a crust.

Add the tamarind paste and the ground masala paste. Stir well to mix and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about five minutes.

Add the beans along with a cup of water or cooking liquid. If your curry is already water, add less liquid. Add salt to taste.

Let the curry come to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes so all the flavors mix together.

Garnish with coriander leaves, and serve hot with some rice or a crusty bread.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

17 thoughts on “Goan Feijoada

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Happy Cook / Finla

    December 7, 2011 at 2:51pm

    I have never used this beans but the curry looks so good and I love that gravy too. I think i will be happy with just that gravy too.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    AMA's AnythingVegetarian

    December 7, 2011 at 5:06pm

    Lovely Vaishali,always loved anything with coconut base.BTW ,started to blog again being dormant for months.When You get a chance stop by.

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Emma

    December 7, 2011 at 7:54pm

    This looks gorgeous and even better it only uses ingredients I can find in my kitchen! I bet the toasted coconut smells incredible too.. Thanks for the recipe :)

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Gayatri

    December 7, 2011 at 8:20pm

    My paternal grandmother was from Goa and she made this dish for us when we were kids. We called it ‘fajaav’ I think. Your post brought back those memories :)

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Meera

    December 8, 2011 at 12:01am

    We make something similar called “Fejjav”. Loved your version too.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Miri

    December 8, 2011 at 8:47am

    This is such an interesting dish – love the combination of beans and tamarind and coconut. Must try

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Pauline

    December 8, 2011 at 8:58am

    Mmm, I’ve heard of feijoada, but was quite turned off by the amount of meat present in the dish. Your version looks still smokingly hearty and delicious, equivalent to the joy a carnivore would get from eating a real meat feijoada. It’s so cool that you have a vegan version, and that it’s culturally customized with the Goan flavors. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priya

    December 8, 2011 at 9:47am

    Super delicious and nutritious dish..

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    T

    December 8, 2011 at 1:32pm

    I *just* made a post about feijoada! This version looks super unique and tasty, I will have to try it if I really want to be a feijoada connoisseur. :)

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cham

    December 9, 2011 at 3:04am

    I never heard of this dish, very comfy food in winter time.
    Btw: how r u? I am doing great, thanks!

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    anthony stemke

    December 9, 2011 at 4:19am

    I love those beans and sausage and feijoada, your particular recipe looks very interesting, I will try it.
    Had your Trinidad toovar dal recently; was good, we loved it.

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Daisy

    December 12, 2011 at 2:26pm

    Feijoada! :-)

    It was so nice seeing a Portuguese word in your post title! Thank you for letting us know about the (good) Portuguese memories left in the Indian culture. :-)

    Feijoada is a very traditional winter dish around here, but you don’t use spices very much in the Portuguese cuisine, the seasoning is just sea salt and a black pepper, although I think the spices will blend beautifully with the beans, enhancing the flavor of the dish.
    The original recipe takes meat in, a lot, but the vegan version is very simple and easy to cook, and it’s packed with nutrients!
    Here it is my version of it: extra-virgin olive oil, 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 yellow onion chopped, 1 carrot chopped into thin circles, 2 or 3 large tomatoes also chopped (can use canned tomatoes), 1 red bell pepper chopped into bite sized pieces, 1 medium savoy green cabbage chopped (the very curly type of cabbage) and cooked red beans with the cooking water (canned beans also work).
    In a medium size pot, sauté the garlic, onion for a few minutes, then add the bell pepper, carrot and tomatoes and saute a little bit more, mixing the ingredients together. Finally add the cabbage and some beans cooking water to cook the vegetables. When the vegetables are tender add the beans and cook a little bit more, reducing the flame to low, just to blend all the flavors. Add sea salt and a dash of black pepper, mixing well. We serve it with white/brown rice.
    Very simple and filling! :-)

    I’ll cook this Goan version to my family , I think they will love it! ;-)

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    December 12, 2011 at 2:38pm

    Happy Cook, Thanks!

    CCC, Thanks very much for tagging– I hope you’ll like the recipe. :)

    AMA, good to see you back again!

    Emma, the coconut smells incredible. I think you’ll love it.

    Priya, laddoos?

    Gayatri, thanks, and glad the recipe brought good memories for you. :)

    Meera, Miri, Thanks!

    Pauline, It really is cool, isn’t it, how cultures adapt cuisines to their own tastebuds? I am constantly fascinated.

    Priya, Thanks.

    T, Your version looks amazing.

    Divya, thanks!

    Cham, Thanks, and am doing well.

    Anthony, glad you tried the Trini dal. One of my favorites. Thanks for letting me know! :)

    Dear Daisy, thank you so much for sharing your vegan recipe — this is exciting because I’ve never had a real Portuguese feijoada, and now I can. I love how healthy it is with so many colorful vegetables, and I am sure it tastes just amazing. I am going to try this very, very soon.

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    WeLoveChicken

    May 16, 2012 at 3:30pm

    I only know the Brazilian feijoada, which is very different from this one. And this version with tamarind pulp (what I love) and coconut. Wow! This recipe makes me really curious… I would love to try it.

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