Feijoada from East-Timor -Bean Recipe
Have you ever heard about the Portuguese dish feijoada? It means “beans” in Portuguese and is eaten all over the world. According to wiki, besides Portugal, feijoada is also eaten in Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, East Timor, India and Macau.
Parts of the world that once belonged to the Portuguese Empire. By Empirecoins – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link – By Empirecoins – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Vegan and ready in 15 minutes
A feijoada originally contains a lot of meat, but in my recipe I use less meat or you can even make it without any. A feijoda also takes a while to cook (at least 3 hours), but my version is ready in 15 minutes.
Go directly to the feijoada recipe, or read more about the history of the Portuguese in Indonesia.
Portugal in Indonesia
At the Pasar Malam at the Huishoudbeurs 2020 (Pasar Colors) I was honored to show a dish during my cooking demo that comes from Portugal (on the theme day: Portugal). Because I mainly make Indonesian food, I started looking for Indonesian food influenced by the Portuguese. It must be there because before the Dutch conquered the East-Indies, in the late 16th century, the Portuguese had discovered the East with its wonderful herbs already.
Sandalwood, spices and faith
In 1511, the Portuguese acquired Malacca (now Malaysia). From there they made expeditions to the islands of “Indonesia”, for example for the sandalwood trade with Timor (good for perfume, incense, and medicines) and of course the herbs of the Moluccas.
This is the street of Malacca: a photo from our airbnb. On the left you see the Portuguese fortress.
In addition, the Portuguese saw themselves as the bringers of the Roman Catholic faith. The vast majority of people in East Timor are Catholic to this day.
The Portuguese lost much of their power in the region to the Dutch in the 17th century. The Portuguese stayed in only a few places for a long time. This is also the case in East Timor. Partly due to this influence, East Timor has (eventually) become an independent country that was recognized as a sovereign state by the United Nations in 2002. By the way, Timor comes from timur which means “East”. So it actually says East-East.
Loan words and keroncong
In Indonesian language (bahasa Indonesia) there are all kinds of loan words from Portuguese. As:
- keju (cheese) from queijo
- boneka (doll) from boneca
- sepatu (shoes) from sapato
Keroncong music is also an adapted form of Portuguese music. Keroncong music is made with various stringed instruments such as a ukulele(-like) instrument, cello, guitar, and double bass.
Keroncong is still popular in Indonesia, but I mainly remember the music my dad used to play. Keroncong sounds warm and familiar to me. Like this song by Wieteke van Dort and Guus Becker.
Feijoada of East Timor
You can see a strong influence of Portugal on food in East Timor from the sweet potatoes and cassava that are widely eaten there as a staple food. This is explained by Deyzi Soares, Timorees and half Cape Verdian, in her column for an Australian magazine. She also adds a recipe.
Feijoada Pisang Susu
My feijoada recipe is based on a vegan feijoada recipe, but I gave it an Indonesian “touch” inspired by East Timor feijoada. My recipe has the heat of the peppers, the “roasted” taste of meat (from the roasted peppers, chorizo and the cumin powder) and taste of a creamy curry because of the grated sweet potato. I serve a few slices of orange with it. That completes the taste and extinguishes the heat.
You can use all kinds of beans. The Brazilian version uses black beans, but the Portuguese white or kidney beans. So choose what you like.
This dish is ready in 15 minutes and enough for 3-4 people.
- 1 can of black beans (drained weight 250 grams)
- 2 chilies (or 3 teaspoons sambal ulek)
- 1 red bell pepper (paprika)
- 1 orange
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 chorizo sausage (or vegetarian sausage)
- 1 red onion
- 3 cloves of garlic (preferably smoked garlic)
- 1 lime
- 1 vegetable stock cube (or 400 ml herb stock)
- 2 tablespoons of salty soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of jinten (cumin)
- 2 teaspoons of chili powder
- 3 teaspoons coriander seeds (coriander seed powder)
- 3 teaspoons of roasted paprika
- 3 teaspoons of black pepper
- two hands flat parsley
- Cut the chorizo into 1 cm slices and sauté gently without oil in the pan.
- Meanwhile, pour the beans into a colander and rinse them under the tap.
- Grate the sweet potato.
- Cut the peppers, onions, and garlic into pieces.
- When the chorizo has released fat, add the peppers, onions and garlic.
- Cut the bell pepper into cubes and add it.
- Add the spices, coriander, jinten, chili and black pepper.
- Add the grated potato and put the lid on the pan for 5 minutes
- Make 400 milliliters of herbal stock and add it.
- Let it boil down for another 5 minutes, until the starch of the potatoes makes the sauce thicker, just like with a long simmered feijoada.
- Finish the feijoda with the kecaps and the lime juice.
- Add two hands of chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve the dish with a few slices of orange.
If you replace the chorizo with a vegan sausage, this dish is vegetarian or vegan. I have not yet found a vegetarian sausage that can replace chorizo. But my version of this feijoada is already made with much less meat than the original.
Whatever ‘meat’ you use, it is important that you cook the pieces really well, so that they become crispy and release their fat well.
I use a white sweet potato, but an orange or even deep red is also possible. Smoked garlic is delicious in this recipe. It emphasizes the meat flavor; a feijoada must-have.
The peppers and the bell pepper can be added. You can also replace bell pepper with tomatoes. My husband is allergic to paprika. I really like it better with bell pepper. It gets even sweeter and the pieces remain crispy.
I add the powdered spices (coriander, jinten cumin, chili powder and black pepper). The sweet potato can go in too. The purpose of the potato is that the starch ensures that everything binds nicely. I now place the lid on the pan for 5 minutes and sauté everything on medium heat.
The stock can now be added. I use vegetable stock, but of course, you can also use meat stock. I don’t use extra salt, because the kecap and the stock provide that. Of course, you have to taste at the end. If everything is still too bland, a little salt can make all the difference.
Now that the sauce is a bit thicker, the beans can be added. They come from the block and are already cooked. I warm them in the feijoda and add the other flavors: kecaps and the lime juice.
Spoon flat parsley, regular parsley or celery into the feijoada just before serving.
We eat the feijoada with white rice (but brown rice is also fantastic) and a few slices of orange. Bon appetite and selamat makan.
Hi! I just came across your blog and it is very nice. This is the most unusual feijoada recipe I have ever seen. It does not look like feijoada, but it looks delicious.
One important thing to mention is that feijoada is not Portuguese. It is African-Brazilian. Feijoada is originally made with the “least noble” cuts of the pig’s meat, as these were the ones that the enslaving families would refuse to eat, and give send them to be thrown away. The enslaved victims were not allowed to eat meat (because they were treated as they didn’t deserve it), so these scraps were all that was left for them to use.
It is a terrible story, but it is important to, at least, give the proper credit and be careful not to erase hustory, and not to tell it giving merits to European colonizers.
Thank you Aline for your interesting comment! True it is super important to credit this and not erase history. So I thank you for this inside. There is just one thing in your reply that is not completely true. Feijoada is older than an African-Brazilian dish and is found before that time in Portugal. It can be traced back to when the Romans colonized Iberia. Where the dish came from before this is difficult to say. This link explains it really well: https://super.abril.com.br/comportamento/a-feijoada-nao-e-invencao-brasileira/