A Very Different Kind of Couscous

Perhaps slightly over-enthusiastically, when we were in Brazil last May I went ahead and bought a special steamer type contraption for making the Bahian specialty ‘Cuscuz’, pronounced exactly like our couscous. Confusing.

Our amazing guide Puma made this delicacy for breakfast mid-trek and it’s basically a steamed cake made from thickly ground corn flour.  Now, I don’t speak much Brazilian / Portuguese – but what I’ve gleaned from trawling the internet is some kind of recipe which, with the help of my slightly rusty spanish, I think I’ve managed to translate fairly accurately and adapt the quantities for my steamer / taste without diverging too far from the original.  But for anyone who can correct me, here’s the link.  It mentions a quantity of water at one point and neither was I sure how much to add or when to add it, but what I did seemed to have worked!

As things go, you could probably use any appropriate sized steamer for this recipe instead of the specialist pot I bought and have only got round to using 5 months later…  However, I reckon it could come in handy as a small veg steamer so all is not lost.  I’ve had a little search and they seem pretty hard to track down over here so my recommendation is a little trip to Brazil.  They also seem to use similar recipes / techniques to make savoury Cuscuz.

I copied Puma (Puma is his nickname, his real name is Julius Caesar, obviously) and added some guava paste to the middle of the cake as it was really delicious when he did it.  You can see his version, in this post.  I have to admit, as I was making this recipe and while it was cooking I was full of an immense sense of doubt and completely amazed when I managed to remove it from the steamer all in one piece.  Oh and it was edible too, and dare I say so myself pretty tasty.  Here’s the recipe, it’s remarkably simple and as cakes go, pretty healthy too.

300g coarse corn flour (see pic above, it should look like that)

150g desiccated coconut

80g sugar

3/4 tsp salt

200ml water

100g guava paste

Mix together the corn flour, desiccated coconut, sugar and salt until well combined and then add the water.  Mix well.

Place some water into the base of the steamer and then put in the metal bit with holes (if anyone can tell me the technical names for these things, I’d love to know them!)  Then pat half the mixture down into your steamer.  Top with the guava paste:

Pack in the rest of the mixture.  Pop the lid on and put it over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes (the Brazilian recipe said 10 minutes, I got scared and wanted to cook it for a further five)

Let it cool for about five minutes and when cool enough, use the little pokey-up-bit to lift it out of the pot and hopefully it should look like this:

Slice it up and serve.

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3 Responses to A Very Different Kind of Couscous

  1. Tonya says:

    I got to your site while trying to search for a way to buy one of those “metal contraptions” in the states. No luck. I am leaving a comment to let you know is called a “cuscuzeiro” or “cuscuzeira.” If anyone reading this knows how to buy one in the US, please leave a comment!

  2. Anonymous says:

    You can get a cuscuzeira in Brazilian’s stores in the USA.

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