I am unashamedly a bread person. I'll eat bread at any chance I get, in whatever form - white bread, brown bread, milk bread, flat bread, rolls, buns, mini loaves, giant loaves...
I think you get the picture.
Being a bread person, I save a special place in my heart for good bread. Among my tastiest memories are giant clouds of milk bread I'd devour from a bakery in the little village of Nuvem in Goa, that were so fresh out of the oven, they'd burn my hand through their paper packaging. (That didn't stop me from eating them though!) Soft, sweet dinner rolls and the doughy encasings of sausage rolls at my family restaurant Longuinhos in Margao, Goa, also come to mind when it comes to delicious bread.
So it comes as no surprise then that I have recently been suffering from an acute bread craving following my trip to Portugal. The cause? The delicious corn bread of Northern Portugal - broa de milho.
You have to understand, broa the milho is special. It looks unassuming enough - brown, with a dry crust that makes it look almost stale. But slice off a chunk and you will find that it belies a sweet, dense, moist crumb - a sweet, honey-tasting dark brown inside that goes down as easily as candy.
Made from necessity - as the northern region of Portugal is too harsh and hilly to support the cultivation of wheat - broa is a yeasty bread made mainly from corn meal, with a bit of rye and wheat added to the dough.
You won't have to look too hard to find it in cities like Porto, where it's usually served at the start of the meal along with other pesticos to whet the appetite before you get going with the mains.
Yes, Portugal is one of those countries where you will be charged for tasting those tempting bites that magically appear on your table without you ordering them (don't make the mistake of thinking all those platters came with the chef's compliments!) but even if you do skip the olives and cheese, keep the basket of broa - you won't regret it.
Apart from being a great way to mop up the juicy gravy from a plate of bifana or bacalhau cooked in tomato sauce, broa de milho is often served along with the light potato soup caldo verde or crumbled and fried with garlic, olive oil, coriander and pork drippings to make the hearty side dish of migas, popular in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
But all this talk about broa de milho is driving home the sad fact that these luscious loaves are not available anywhere in Dubai :( Unless any of you know something I don't?
Bread fanatics in the UAE, if you can point me towards a bakery that bakes this famous Portuguese bread, you will be doing a fellow bread lover a huge favour :)
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