Pronounced in Portuguese poww de kayjjjo, which translates into English, simply as cheese bread. In Brazil these are eaten for breakfast with strong, short coffee (espresso) or as snacks. The origin is not known, however, it is thought to be traced to the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in the 1600’s as slaves would harvest manioc (yucca root) to produce tapioca starch (manioc). They would cut, peel, then soak the roots in water. After washed and drained they would be spread on the floor to dry outside.
The ever resourceful slaves would scrape the leftover residue (starch) from the bottom of the bowls and roll into small balls, which were then baked. With the limited available ingredients available in those days, they were simply baked manioc starch. Some 200 years later, the now freed slaves began to experiment by adding milk and cheese to the recipe. Since the 1950’s these have become commonplace in snack bars and bakeries, right across Brazil and into parts of northern Argentina.
Speaking to my Brazilian friends in Rio de Janeiro to explain Cassava/manioc there seems to be confusion from different parts of the country what it’s called. The recipe traditionally uses manioc/cassava flour. If I understand it correctly….Cassava in the plant and manioc is the tuberous and starchy root of the cassava plant. Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca. Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize and is also grown as far away as Nigeria and Thailand. Confusingly in different parts of Brazil, cassava is referred to as manioc, tapioca and Brazilian arrowroot.
I have yet to source any manioc flour in the UK, although some specialist shops are likely to have a limited supply, so I substituted it with tapioca flour, which is also starchy and from the same plant, it is the closest alternative.
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