This traditional Bahian dish has come to be associated with an African-Brazilian religious ritual called Candomblé – but all you really need to know is it's delicious. Click here for the recipe from Thiago Castanho & Luciana Bianchi's brilliant book Brazilian Food.

Ingredients

  • 700g whole dried salt shrimps
  • 40ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 15g green pepper, diced
  • 35g tomato, chopped
  • 2 cumari-do-Pará or other mild yellow chillies, chopped
  • 400g okra, cut into 1cm-thick rounds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250g fine, untoasted cassava flour
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • black pepper
  • 20ml dendê (palm) oil
  • 1½ tbsp hand-torn cilantro (Mexican/long coriander)
  • 1½ tbsp hand-torn basil
  • 150g jambu (Pará cress/toothache plant) or watercress
  • Brazilian-style White Rice to serve
  • 50g dried salt shrimps, heads removed

Method

  1. Soak the whole dried shrimps in plenty of cold water for 4 hours. Drain and peel, reserving the heads and shells.
  2. Put the heads and shells in a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer to a blender, add 1.4 litres of water and process until smooth. Pour the liquid into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil hard for 10 minutes to make a full-flavoured broth. Strain and set aside.
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, green pepper, tomato and cumari-do-Pará until softened.
  4. Add the peeled shrimps and okra and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the shrimp broth and heat until simmering.
  5. Add the bay leaf, then gradually add the cassava flour, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps forming. Cook for 7 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Stir in the ground cumin, a little black pepper and the dendê oil. Lower the heat and cook for 4 minutes.
  7. Add the culantro and basil, stirring to combine. Adjust the salt to taste and keep the caruru hot while you prepare the garnishes.
  8. Rinse the dried shrimps under cold running water to remove excess salt. In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the shrimp for 4 minutes then drain and set aside.
  9. Bring another saucepan of water to the boil, add the jambu leaves and blanch them for 1 minute. Drain and refresh in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking and keep the leaves bright green. Drain before plating.
  10. To serve, place a spoonful of cooked white rice on serving plates, add a portion of caruru and garnish with the jambu leaves and shrimps.

Brazilian Food by Thiago Castanho & Luciana Bianchi, published by Mitchell Beazley; £30, octopusbooks.co.uk