As the smell of meat grilling, multiple chickens slowly cooking on a spit roast and sweet, freshly baked cheesy bread wafts past me, I know I’m back in Latin America. This time, I’ve ditched my Spanish and taken to speaking Portuguese (extremely, extremely poorly) in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
On street corners and along the beach front people quench their thirst with ice cold coconuts, slurping its water of the shell. Juice bars churn out sweet, creamy avocado juices and serve up salty and deep fried salgados. While I enjoyed the abundance of beige fried food and sugary avocado, my favourite Brazilian bite was a purple bowl of beauty, otherwise known as açaí.
A berry native to Central and South America, açaí has been touted as a ‘superfood’, supposedly even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries. Served frozen and blended, either on its own or mixed in with other fruits like banana or strawberry to make a thick smoothie, açaí is served in a copa (cup) or na tigela (in a bowl, topped with granola and chopped banana).
Since the beachfront of Copacabana has been swapped for the streets of Camden, I’m now looking to recreate this Brazilian delight in my own kitchen. You won’t find any açaí down your local Asda, so I’ve opted for a mix of raspberries and blueberries instead. You could, of course, top this with shop bought granola, but try this recipe for a decidedly unhealthier version to balance out all the pesky vitamins inside this superfood smoothie bowl.
Replacing the Brazilian berries for British ones obviously gives this bowl a different taste to those I ate in Brasil, but it makes for a brilliant breakfast all the same. There’s a fair bit of oil in the granola, but it’s the fat and sugar that give it that crunch. My use of coconut oil here is a nod to those cocos sipped beachside and gives a rich and warm flavour to the granola.
Coconut and cinnamon granola
(This recipe makes two large trays, which is about one large jar)
350g oats (the real deal jumbo ones, certainly no instant quick cooking ones)
25g light muscovado sugar
120 ml honey (4 tbsp of solid or runny)
120 ml coconut oil (4 tbsp hard coconut oil)
1 and a half teaspoons of cinnamon
- Heat oven to 150 degrees.
- Heat sugar, honey and coconut oil on a low heat, stirring constantly to achieve a golden syrup consistency.
- Combine warm syrup with the oats and cinnamon, covering oats in liquid.
- Divide onto two baking trays lined with baking paper, and put into oven for 25-30 minutes. You want the oats golden but not overly so, and should poke oats around every 5-10 minutes, as for this granola clusters are not what we’re after.
- Remove from oven, leave to cool and add in raisins.
Raspberry and blueberry smoothie bowl
(Makes one large bowl)
1 banana, chopped up and frozen
50g frozen raspberries
80g frozen blueberries
2 tbsp runny honey
- Place ingredients in blender. Blend. Simple!
To assemble, scoop smoothie into bowl, sprinkle on a generous amount of granola and decorate with finely chopped banana slices.