A giant Copacabana beach panflex skin set the mood of the night for the denizens of the capital when Marriot Hotel's GM Islamabad, Mr. Maurizo Romani invited guests to the three day Brazilian extravaganza titled 'Brazilian Soul food & Music Festival'.
The pool side of the hotel was exquisitely decorated with huge flower pots creating an Amazon theme, black upholstery and copper gold serving dishes being catered by waiters dressed in gaucho, a cowboy attire from south of Brazil. The guests were in full attendance to savour the flavors of the South American cuisine.
Brazil is a vast country with a cornucopia of fabulous ingredients and a wealth of ethnic culinary influences.
“We have invited one of the most famous chefs from Brazil who is well-known in all of South America to Pakistan to promote our culture and traditions,” informed Claudio Lins, ambassador of Brazil to Pakistan sitting on the head table.
Chef Kiki Ferrari has over 15 years of culinary experience under his belt. He started cooking at an early age of 15 and learnt everything on the job while working in various ethnic parts of Brazil.
“The time I started to develop my interest in cooking, there was no culinary school or academy in Brazil so I learnt everything at the restaurants and hotel kitchens by watching my seniors,” shared the 30 something chef.
The offering at the Brazilian feast bonanza included an array of salads, BBQ and native Brazilian dishes all prepared by Chef Kiki who has brought a number of spices with him. “I am blown away by the Pakistani BBQ. Believe me I am having seekh kebab and chicken tikka for breakfast for the last few days. I can confess that we mastered bbq techniques but you have all the flavours which makes you the winner,” he said laughingly.
At the grill side, two salvers were on display, one with rack of lamb and other roasted beef grilled to perfection. It was interesting to note that both these meaty items looked exactly the same as being served in any Pakistani restaurant.
Chef Kiki had marinated the beef as well as lamb for long to settle the spices into the meat before cooking it on slow heat for 6 hours. Once the meat was tender enough to pull away from the bone, it was time to let it simmer. He served each guest with morsels of lamb, roasted garlic cloves with sprinkle of garlic butter, it was divine.
The beef roast in the neighborhood also did not fall much behind in both presentation and taste. The ones who are in love with Peshawari karahi were in for a treat as chef KiKi gave his guest a choice to either pick the side with cooked fat topping or lean beef .
Copper Tureen’s filled with boiling soup had a bee line. The menu included Tutu corm Picadinho soup with refried beans and chopped beef whereas Rabada com Canjiquinha ingredients included an Oxtail and corn grits soup which was a novelty for the guests. The chucks of Oxtail swimming in the pot of thick gravy were tender and easy to chew whereas there was no flavor of corn grits.
“Brazilian cuisine is basically a set of cooking practices and traditions characterized by European, African, Latin as well as Asian influence. It varies greatly by regions reflecting the country’s mix of native so even the national Brazilian cuisine is marked by different preservations” said chef Kiki while explaining the roots of the Brazilian gastronomy.
Other dishes included bbqchicken wings, turmeric quail with lime and roasted potatoes, Amazon fish roasted in banana leaf and the 300 years traditional dish, Moqueca de Banana com Camarao (banana and prawn).
Moqueca is a brazilin seafood stew made with tomato, peppers, garlic, cilantro, garlic and bananas. As the chef explained, it is seafood stew infused with chilies in a broth of coconut milk and oil cooked on low heat generally in a terracotta casserole. The dish is mostly made with shrimps but some Brazilian also uses boneless fish. There is also a tinge of sweetness in the stew.
The orange color texture and well marinated king prawns swimming in the broth made Maqueca fall in love with in nanoseconds.
“It will not be fair if you do not try the Coxinhas,” warns the chef. This hearty snack was stuffed with shredded chicken wrapped up in gooey dough before being battered and fried till golden brown. It had a crispy crust, moistly texture ingredients stuffing.
The Brazilian Soul food & Music Festival also had Tamara Maravilha, famous Brazilian DJ, entertaining the crowd throughout.