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A slice of Macau cuisine

A combination of Portuguese and Chinese with a hint of Indian, Malay and Brazilian essence…Voila, a fusion cuisine was created in the 16th Century at the Pearl River Delta. It's definitely fusion at its best!

india Updated: Apr 10, 2011 15:16 IST
Rupali Dean

A combination of Portuguese and Chinese with a hint of Indian, Malay and Brazilian essence…Voila, a fusion cuisine was created in the 16th Century at the Pearl River Delta. As one of the ports of the Lusophone world, Macau has absorbed eating traditions from not only Portugal, but also other former colonies of the Portuguese empire. The cuisine is renowned for its flavour-blending culture, and modern Macanese cuisine founded by the Portuguese, cooked by the Chinese is fusion at its best!

Macanese dishes
Owing to the fact that Portugal had quite a few colonies in Africa, there was a common bond which led to the prominence of an African-inspired dish called African Chicken. The bird is marinated in chillies, onions, and garlic, then smothered in a lemony, buttery coconut sauce, and grilled to crispy perfection. Interestingly, egg tarts are present in both Cantonese and Portuguese cuisine. They are Portugal’s sweetest contribution; bright yellow custard treats known for their flaky butter puff pastry and crème brulee-like filling. Another interesting dish is a pork chop (bone included) bun (quite like a baguette). Among the signature dishes are Chourico assado (char-grilled Portuguese chorizo), which has a bit of Goan influence.

Common ingredients
Macanese food is seasoned with spices such as turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau. It features in Bafassa (cooking style) recipes with pork and chicken. Agar Agar, a species of sea weed is used as gelatine in most desserts. Almond tea and almond cookies are also hot favourites. Tamarind is usually used as an achar. Garlic chives are as popular as the invigorating garlic cloves. Legend has it that the Buddhist monks were forbidden to eat garlic as it was believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Macanese Chicken
Ingredients

Chicken (cut into 10 pieces): 1 no; Salt: to taste; freshly ground black pepper: to taste; Corn-starch: 2 tbsp; Oil: 2 tbsp; Potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks): 3 nos (medium); Onion (finely chopped): 1 no; Ginger (thinly sliced):1 tbsp; Turmeric: as desired; Coconut milk: 2 cups; Lemon: 1 no

Method
1 Generously season chicken with salt and pepper, then coat with corn-starch. Set aside for 15 minutes.
2 Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium. Add potatoes and cook until lightly browned for about 8 minutes.
3 Transfer potatoes to a plate and set aside.
4 Reduce heat to medium, add onions and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant for about 2 minutes.
5 Add turmeric, cook for 30 seconds, then add coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
6 Add chicken and potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7 Arrange lemon slices over chicken and potatoes and cook covered until the
chicken is tender and cooked for about 40 minutes.
Recipe by chef Antonio Coelho

Eat out in Macau
Alorcha: Located close to the famed A Ma Temple. Ask for Codfish in Cream Sauce and African Chicken here.

Antonio: Located in Taipa Village, the 60 something chef is Portuguese with extensive culinary experience. You must try his Seafood Rice and Macanese Chicken Curry.

Café Litoral: A quaint place located in Taipa Village. Dig into Chicken liver Pipis, Pork Balachan and Mango Pudding here.

Space Lisboa: Lies in Coloane. The Codfish Croquettes, Grilled Sardines and Egg Tarts are worth a try.

Macau Tower: Come here for an awesome view of the city. Don’t skip their Macanese buffet spread.