Portuguse seamen have been famous since the fifteenth century for being among the first to open up the spice routes when before Italy was the only country transporting spices over land. Because they had the advantage of carrying and selling the spices directly, they could offer them at a cheaper price. Suddenly it was Lisbon and not Venice that was in command of the spice trade.
Spices during the fifteenth century and before and after were indispensible. Pepper especially was used to flavor meat that had been improperly salted or cured. Cinnamon as well was a much used spice to flavor foods, not only baked goods. Yet the hallmark of portuguese cooking has always been simplicity, and so you will notice that not too many exotic spices are used.
Such spices as curry are rarely found, if at all as it was never very popular in traditional cooking. Herbs are very traditional, and you will not find a wide variety as most used herbs are parsley, mint, coriander and bay leaf.
These herbs are used in abundance.Below is a list of the types of spices, herbs and condiments available in Portugal and used according to region and more and more widely used now. Aniseed, Basil, Bay leaf, Chillies, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Garlic, Lemon, Mandarin, Mint, Nutmeg, Onions, Orange, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Pepper, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tarragon, Vanilla, Wine, Wine vinegar, Winter savory,
The most difficult of these ingredients to obtain would be fresh basil and fresh coriander. Coriander is the only one that would be considered a must in Portuguese Cooking. Paprika is widely used. It is called Colorau and is made from powdered mild peppers. Onions and Garlic are vital in Portuguese cooking.
First of all Cod (especially) needs garlic as a flavoring to bring out the best of this seafood. and Onions you will find are one of the first things fried when beginning a Portuguese dish. Next time we will explore Condiments and Spices in Brazil.
Condiments and Seasonings- Brazil
Brazilian cookery is strongly influenced by African origins. Although the Portuguese and native peoples contributed a great deal to the origins of Brazilian cooking, the African influence brought with it herbs and spices unknown to the New World. Typical Portuguese dishes were changed to suit the new tastes of the growing influence. Dishes that included codfish, olive oil and eggs, tomatoes and seasoning now had coconut milk added.The olive oil was replaced by dende oil and cashew nuts replaced the codfish.
The main ingredients used lavishly in Afro-Brazilian cooking is dende oil, malagueta pepper and coconut milk. Dende oil is a heavy, dense oil of a yellowish color. It is found all over Brazil, but its origin falls to the State of Bahia.
Malagueta pepper is a small, hot aromatic pepper and is considered indispensable. Other spices used in Brazilian cooking included pepper of different types, ginger, pounded melon and pumpkin seeds, palm and coconut oil, garlic and the leaves of the capeba plant as well as the herb of the amaranth family. With these ingredients Brazilian prepare sauces such as Dende oil and vinegar, pepper and lemon, Nago sauce which are served with codfish with coconut milk, rice, and stews. Brazilian cooking is aromatic, often intense in flavor and texture,and a creation of cultures that span centuries.