Saturday, June 02, 2007

Nana Maria canjica

My grandmother on my mother’s side, Dona Maria, was originally from the state of Paraíba, in the north east of Brazil. In that part of the country corn plays a very important part in people’s diet. It is done in various forms: raw corn that is grated and then cooked, Brazilian corn flour – which is very fine, pre-cooked corn flour. The list is long.

Nowadays we find corn in most parts of the country nearly all year round, but in my nana’s days and in her region it would be very abundant around Easter time. And she was famous for making canjica and pamonha - both are corn based dishes. You are probably saying to yourself: what the heck is she going on about. Canjica (known in the south of Brazil by the name of curau) is made using grated corn that is cooked with milk and sugar. It is sprinkled with cinnamon powder when ready and put in the fridge to cool. Pamonha is a bit more laborious: the corn is also grated, and then the kernels are scraped to extract any remaining bits as well as the juices; the pulp is seasoned , strained and it is used to fill the corn husks which will become little filled parcels; pamonhas can be sweet or savory. In the part of Brazil where I spent my adolescence and where I lived until I came to Europe, pamonha is nearly a religion. Back to my nana, she used to add coconut milk to her recipes. She would grate the coconut and then extract the milk to be used in her cooking.

Since we are now in the month of June, and all over Brasil a national festivity starts, lasting nearly the whole month – Festa Junina, and canjica ( curau) is eaten nearly everywhere, I have chosen to post my grandmother’s recipe here as a toast to the month of June. This is the nicest part of the Brasilian calendar year to me. There are loads of special foods that we eat specially at the festivities that happen everywhere. You can read a bit about this festivity here.


Nana Maria Canjica Recipe

4 medium-sized corns

½ cup milk

½ cup coconut milk

Sugar – to your taste

Cinnamon powder

Grate the corns and then push the pulp through a sieve. If you feel that the pulp is very coarse, before pushing it through the sieve put it in a blender with a bit of the ½ cup milk and give it a good whiz. You want it to be really mushy. Now push it through a sieve. Transfer the sieved corn to a heavy bottomed pan, adding the milk and some of the coconut milk. Put the pan on a medium heat and add sugar to the mixture so that it is to your taste. Stir the mixture until it thickens a bit, pouring the remaining coconut milk little by little – this is to avoid that your canjica is not too runny. When you reach the right consistency, like thickish porridge, remove the pan from the fire, transfer the mixture to various ramekins, or even to one big dish, sprinkle with the cinnamon and let it cool. Once cooled transfer it to the fridge for at least one hour so that it gets cool. Lovely on a summer day.

Please note that when you grate the corn, if you feel that the amount you have might not be enough to all the hungry mouths you will be feeding, just grate more corns. Depending on the size of the original corns, the amount might not be enough. As for the milk and sugar, just add more accordingly. It might sound complicated but it is dead easy. I promise.


Nora B. said...

Valentina, thanks for taking the time to explain the story behind this recipe & also more about your country and culture. When I finally make my way to Brazil, I should definite come in June! Your nana's canjica looks delicious and I can appreciate it much more now after reading your post.

Peabody said...

I am facinated by this. I love corn so I might give this a try.

Ilva said...

Thanks, it's so interesting to read about Brazilian cooking and dishes! Sounds great, I'll have to remember it when I can get fresh corn!

Patricia Scarpin said...

My dear friend, I love this post - curau is really huge here and I used to make it all the time for my father... more than 10 years ago!

It looks delicious. I feel like making curau again!

veron said...

This looks and sounds delicious. Corn and coconut milk , how delicious can that be?

Freya and Paul said...

This is a beautifully refreshing and naturally sweet sounding drink!

Helen said...

Sounds like a real treat! Thanks for sharing your cuisine and culture!

kellypea said...

I love sweet corn. What an interesting recipe. I just saw a corn pudding in Saveur this morning, too. Delicious!

Claudia said...

Mmmmmm.... it looks and sounds fabulous! Corn and coconut, how can you possibly go wrong. Thank you for the explanation too. One of the =things I love about food blogging is that I've learned so much about the foods of other cultures!

diefe said...

Thanks a lot! Hei-de experimentar esta (depois de a traduzir convenientemente)... E ainda agora comecei a bisbilhotar por aqui...:)

Anonymous said...

excuse me but you made a big mistake... cural and canjica are two different things... your recipe is a recipe for cural, and it's not as we do in brazil. canjica is another thing.

Valentina said...

Anonymous, shame you didn't leave your name. I made no mistake. In the part of Brazil where my grandmother comes from ( northeast, Ceara) they call this recipe canjica. In other parts of Brazil - south, they call it curau. YOu are the one who seems not to be aware of the differences in the way people call things in the different regions.I hope I have been able to help you a bit.

Ulrich said...

thanx for the great recipe. Can you post a recipe of how to make pamonha?
Greetings from Germany.

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