Brazil is a vast and beautiful country in South America also known famously as the country of Soccer and Carnival festival. The carnival is a mega event which most of us know about, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes, samba music and of course night long carefree dance. Brazil stretches from the Amazon basin in the north up to massive Iguacu Falls in the south and being such a big country, Brazil is famous for a variety of food options.
On a recent trip to Brazil, Team Sivalya toured the country north to south and during the last week of our trip, we were invited by a local family in central-western part of the country for a family reunion, highlight of which was preparation of famous Brazilian dish, Pamonha. Never the ones to say no to a tempting offer, we of course took the opportunity to see for ourselves how this traditional delicacy is prepared.
More than a food, Pamonha preparation is a time for families and friends in Brazil to get together and make memories. It’s an occasion to meet with old friends and family members you haven’t seen in a long time, catch up on gossips, sing familiar songs and bon homie in general. From grandmas to aunties and from eager eyed kids to new moms, everyone is a part of this feast preparation and have hard work to do. Not an easy dish to prepare by any standards, the love which goes into creating Pamonha is phenomenal and that feeling of belonging is what makes it memorable for most folks.
A traditional food of Brazil, Pamonha is derived from ‘Tupi’ dialect, which is a native language spoken by ingenious tribes on the Brazilian cost before they were colonized. Pamonha is basically made out of corn, which is available in abundance in Brazil this time of the year, by making a paste out of corn and then is cooked wrapped in corn husks in boiling water. This process has evolved from Portuguese and African influences from native Brazilian heritage.
The process involves purchasing mounds of fresh corn, cleaning them and pealing off the husks. Husks are saved for later and not discarded. Once the corn is pealed and ready, corn kernels are separated from the corn cob, manually in a corn grinding machine that grinds the corn kernels to make the corn paste. After the corn paste is ready, it is seasoned, either sweet or savory or as in most cases, both. The sweet version is usually stuffed with cheese inside and savory version is stuffed with cheese, spices and sometimes sausage. But as with all dishes, creativity is welcome and you can add more ingredients to pamonha, based on your personal tastes.
After the seasoned paste is ready, the corn husks which were saved earlier, are stuffed with the corn paste and tied up tight with string. A large wooden stove is fired up and a big wok is filled with water and bought to a boil. Next all the pamonha goes right inside the boiling water where it cooks for about 30-40 minutes. Next, open up your individually wrapped, organic and sustainable Pamonha and enjoy! Trust us it was delicious more so with love of the family which made it 💕xoxo – Anna with Team Sivalya.