Some foods are so particular to a small, micro-region, that they remain unmentioned when speaking about the food of a larger, geographical region. Arroz Vermelho (red rice) is one of these foods. Arroz Vermelho is a dish that is neither representative of typical Northeastern cuisine, nor is it part of quintessential Bahian fare. It is, above anything, food of the Chapada Diamantina, or Brazil’s Lost World.
Arroz Vermelho is one of those dishes that has remained traditional. A food of the garimpeiro, it is flavorful and hearty. The rice itself is known for its cholesterol-reducing and diabetes-preventing properties much like brown rice or oatmeal. Often cooked with pieces of carne de sol or beef and eaten for jantar (dinner), arroz vermelho is never served without tangy lime wedges and a peppery hot sauce.
Recipe: Arroz Vermelho do Garimpeiro
2 cups red rice
300 g carne de sol (or beef seasoned with salt), cut into cubes
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3-4 pimenta de cheiro (fragrant peppers, if unavailable, take one chili pepper and mince)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon paprika (or achuete or colorau)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 box beef stock
In a medium pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and brown the beef. After 2 minutes, add the vegetables and allow them all to simmer together for about 5 minutes. Next, add the rice and the spices and with a wooden spoon, make sure to stir everything through. Allow the rice to toast a bit, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add enough beef stock to cover the rice and allow to cook cover, on low heat. Every once in a while stir the rice so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. As the liquid starts to evaporate, taste a grain of rice, is it crunchy still? pasty? or soft? If it is not soft, continue adding beef stock to the pot until the rice is soft with a porridge-like consistency. Serve hot with a slice of lime and hot sauce.