In the United States, feijoada (pronounced fay-jo-aa-duh) is better known as a Brazilian black bean stew with pork and/or beef: a dish so beloved, it has been anointed Brazil's national dish. But the feijoada I knew growing up in India was the Goan version, usually made with pink beans or red kidney beans and Goan sausages, which are infused with cinnamon, paprika, ginger and garlic.
It was differently delicious, and incredibly so.
Feijoada is named for "feijão" or "beans," in Portuguese, and there are versions of this dish to be found in many former Portuguese colonies, from Goa to Mozambique to Macau. There is also, of course, a Portuguese feijoada that inspired these other versions (read through the comments for a fantastic recipe posted by Daisy, a reader from Portugal, when I first shared this Goan Feijoada recipe many years ago).
The food of former colonies like Goa offers an interesting study in how occupiers cross-pollinated culinary traditions and ingredients across the distant lands they controlled. Those influences were readily embraced by locals and they persisted long after the occupiers left, as opposed to other colonial legacies that are unwelcome and are deliberately--and understandably--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?
In Goa, local Christian converts made feijoada by marrying pink beans or red kidney beans (also brought into India by the Portuguese from south and central America) and the meat with local spices and coconut, a fruit that grows abundantly in this coastal state. My Goan stepmother, who was a talented and adventurous cook, would make an accidentally vegan version of Feijoada. My version, which does use meatless sausages, is inspired by hers, and it is mindblowingly delicious -- and quite unique.
I hope you'll try it. And if you do, be sure to let me know in the comments or take a photo and tag me @holycowvegan on Instagram.
Why you'll love this Goan feijoada
- It's delicious. Imagine all those lovely textures of the beans and the sausage in that flavorful, spiced coconut sauce.
- It's unique. This is not a dish you'll easily find on an Indian restaurant menu, but making it at home is not at all difficult.
- It's hearty. The beans and sausage in this recipe make for a very filling meal.
- It's everyone-friendly: This feijoada is free of gluten and soy and it will appeal to everyone you are feeding, vegan to omnivore and kid to adult.
- It's healthy. You know beans are great for you. The sausage, which you can leave out, adds more protein to this dish, and the spices are, of course, great for you.
- Pinto beans (or red kidney beans. You can use either canned beans or cook them from scratch. If using canned beans, drain out the liquid. If you cook your own beans, strain the beans but reserve the cooking stock.)
- Vegan sausage links. I used Beyond sausages, which are soy-free and gluten-free. You can use any kind)
- Vegetable oil. Any flavorless oil works. You can also use coconut oil.
- Onion. For sweetness and spice.
- Garlic. Because it's garlic, and you need its deliciousness here.
- Dry red chili peppers. Or use red pepper flakes if that's what you have.
- Cloves. Cloves are extremely aromatic and slightly sweet, and they add great depth of flavor here.
- Black peppercorns. These add heat alongside the red chili peppers, but it's a more complex, flavorful, layered heat.
- Coriander seeds. The lemony flavor of coriander seeds is perfect in most Indian stews and curries, and it is especially welcome here.
- Cumin seeds. For earthy, smoky, bold flavor.
- Tamarind paste. The tamarind adds tang and depth--something vinegar doesn't do, but you can switch out the tamarind with white or apple cider vinegar with good results. Vinegar is often used in
- Coconut milk. In Goa you'd add grated coconut to this dish, but I really like coconut milk and the smoothness it brings to this recipe. You can use grated coconut if you'd rather. Just add it to the blender with the other ingredients instead of the coconut milk and be sure to use more water to help blend the ingredients.
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro. For a fresh, lemony finish.
How to make feijoada
- Begin by toasting the spices--dry red chili peppers, peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, in a dry skillet with no oil. When the coriander seeds are a couple of shades darker and the spices smell really fragrant, take them off the heat and transfer to a plate or bowl to cool.
- Toast the garlic in the same skillet until brown spots appear, then add to the plate with the other spices. When the spices cool, blend with ½ cup coconut milk into a really smooth paste. If you are using grated coconut, add ½ cup water to the blender.
3. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute until they begin to turn brown.
4. Add the sausages, cut into chunky but bite-sized pieces, and saute until they brown slightly.
5. Add tamarind or vinegar and ground masala paste into the skillet and mix well. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to simmer and let the stew cook a couple more minutes.
6. Add the beans to the saucepan. If you cooked your own beans you can add a cup of the stock from the beans to the skillet at this point, otherwise just add water. Once the sauce comes to a boil, cover the saucepan and let the stew simmer for 10 more minutes.
7. Uncover, check for salt, add more if needed, and turn off the heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
What to serve with Goan feijoada
- Rice is perfect with this stew. Use brown or white rice, preferably a long-grain rice like basmati or jasmine.
- In Goa, you might eat a feijoada with pav, a bread roll that's slightly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Serve a fresh, green salad of cucumber and cherry tomatoes on the side.
More vegan Goan recipes
- 1 cup pinto beans (or red kidney beans. Soak the beans overnight or cook them until tender. If using canned, use two 14-oz cans, drained)
- 14 oz vegan sausage (optional. Chop lengthwise into bite-size pieces)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 dry red chili pepper (use less or more depending on your preference for heat. There are a few peppercorns in this recipe, which will also add heat.)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5 cloves
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (or 1-2 tablespoon vinegar, depending on how tangy you want the stew to be)
- 14 oz coconut milk (or ½ cup grated coconut)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon cilantro (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 to a plate.
- In the same skillet, toast the garlic until the cloves soften a bit and have brown spots all over. Add the garlic to the plate with the rest of the spices. If you are using grated coconut, lightly brown it in the dry skillet, keeping an eye on it all the time to make sure it doesn't burn. If using coconut milk, you can add it directly to the blender.
- Once the spices and garlic have cooled, add to the blender with the coconut or ½ cup of the coconut milk. Blend into a very 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 or vinegar and the ground masala paste. Stir well to mix and allow the sauce to come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about five minutes.
- Add the drained beans along with a cup of water or the bean cooking liquid. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes for the flavors to meld together.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or bread.
This was SO GOOD! Thanks for introducing us to the Goan flavors, and a bean curry using coconut milk. No tamarind on hand, but we saw elsewhere that a possible substitute would be 1/2 lime juice + 1/2 brown sugar. It seemed to work. This is definitely a keeper.
Hi Gail, so happy you loved the recipe and I love, love, love that substitution--what a great idea to replace tamarind, which is not in everyone's pantry, with lime juice and brown sugar. Maple syrup would be great too. Thanks for sharing that as it'll benefit other readers as well.