Feiras are pretty much like a farmers market except that they are way bigger and happen much more often – in a large city such as São Paulo, every neighborhood has one and whenever you move to a different place you will always want to know what day of the week and in what street is your new neighborhood Feira. They are very important part of our lives as most of the families still cook everything from scratch.
It’s also a quite agreeable and fun job shopping on these street markets – the people that sells fruits always offer pieces of fresh fruit for free, have a funny greeting and a smile on their faces. Another perk of being in charge of the week fresh groceries is eating Pastel with Garapa :-).
Pastel is a deep fried crispy pastry stuffed with whatever you like. Garapa is simply the Sugar Cane juice.
A Pastel with Garapa will cost no more than 4 dollars – everything is super fresh and people line in front of the stalls where you can choose the filling you want, wait for your Pastel to be fried and in the mean time, grab some fresh Garapa extracted from the sugar cane right before your eyes.
The Traditional fillings are Cheese or Mince but there are sooo many different flavors! I will be posting the recipe for the dough here but I will leave the filling for you to decide. Here are some suggestions based on stuff you can find in any Feira:
- Beef Mince with olives (has to be cooked to your liking and cooled to be used)
- Cheese (whatever you like)
- Pizza – Cheese, tomatoes and Oregano
- Calabresa – Cheese and calabrese saussage
- Chicken Catupiry – Shredded cooked chicken with cream cheese
- Palm Heart and Catupiry
- Carne Seca and Catupiry – Brazilian Beef Jerky with cream cheese
- Codfish (pretty popular in São Paulo central market)
- Doce de Leite com Banana- Dulce de Leche / caramel and Banana
- Banana Cinnamon – Banana, Sugar and Cinnamon
- “Romeo and Juliet” – Cheese and Guava sweet
Pastel also can be done at whatever size you like, the ones that are sold in the Feiras are very large but at home you might want to make then smaller, a couple of bites size. It is also a very popular Pub food, where they are devoured with crispy light beer and can be found in fancy bite size filled with expensive ingredients such as mushrooms and blue cheese.
Now a few cooking advices before jumping to the recipe:
- The pastry fries really fast so make sure to properly cook any meat or fish before using it as a filling.
- You can roll the pastry with a rolling pin but using a Pasta Machine is strongly advised.
- Letting the dough rest overnight and using Cachaça in the dough guarantees a flaky, crunchy pastel
- The raw dough freezes really well and you can also freeze them ready to fry – defrost them before frying
- If you can’t find Cachaça or don’t want to pay a fortune for a bottle, you can use Vodka instead but if you find Cachaça you can always make some Caipirinha to go with your Pastel. 🙂
Now to the recipe and… whenever you are in Brazil, don’t forget visiting the local Feira and trying a Pastel with Garapa.
Time: 1h plus overnight
- 2 Cups white plain Flour
- 1/2 Lukewarm water
- 1 Tablespoon Cachaça
- 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- Whatever filling you wish
- Oil to deep fry
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth – it does feel much more like a pasta dough than a bread dough, expect it to be firm and very elastic.
- Form a ball with the dough, roll on plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight
- Using a Rolling Pin or a Pasta Machine to open the dough to about 3 mm.
- Place the filling of your choice on the dough, brush a tiny bit of water around it and cover with another piece of dough rolled to 3 mm
- Cut the Pastel to your liking: you can make them as half moons using a biscuit cutter or cut them as pillows (that’s the traditional format).
- Press the borders with your finger to make sure it’s properly sealed. If you want you can use a fork to crimp the edges.
- Pour about three fingers of oil in a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Fry the Pastel in batches until golden – if the oil is hot enough it should take a couple of minute to have it puff and golden.
- Remove the Pastel from the oil and allow it to cool down and drain the oil on a paper towel for a couple of minutes.
- Serve immediately