Monday, February 12, 2007


Pastel is a very common food here in Brazil – at least in the south-east, where I live.

It is sold in open-air markets and usually eaten with a glass of caldo de cana – a.k.a. garapa – which is sugarcane juice. It’s delicious!
Some of us like to add a tablespoon of “vinagrete” - a kind of salsa made with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and parsley – to our pastel before each bite:

It’s easy to buy ready to use pastel dough, but since I wanted to share this food with my foreign readers I decided to make the dough from scratch, using a recipe from a dear friend of mine.

I was having a hard time trying to put into words a good description of pastel and my dear friend Valentina came to my rescue – she told me they’re similar to wontons and can also be described as a cross between Chinese spring rolls and Indian Samosas.

It was really, really hard to roll the dough without a cylinder or a pasta machine – I used a rolling pin. I kept thinking about all the calories I was burning before even eating the pastéis… :)
In the end, the pastéis were delicious and totally worth the effort. ;)

UPDATE - Freya left a comment saying she'd like a dulce de leche pastel (a pretty delicious choice, I must add). ;)
I forgot to write that sweet pastéis are even more delicious sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon after they're fried.
Tks for reminding me, Freya!


500g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cachaça
warm water
vegetable oil for frying

Filling – you can use a huge number of flavors, such as cheese, ground beef, ham + cheese and tomato, hearts of palm. Sweet fillings are also possible: dulce de leche, guava paste, chocolate.
Use your imagination, the sky is the limit!

I made half filled with pizza cheese and dried oregano and the other half with hearts of palm cooked in olive oil with chopped onions – you can find a good recipe here, which I used to make bread boats. I added a pitted olive to each pastel, too.

Mix the flour, oil, cachaça and salt in a bowl. Add water, a little at a time, and work with your hands until you form a smooth dough – firm but not sticky.
Take amounts of dough and roll them using a cylinder or pasta machine – they should be very thin. Lightly dust your working surface with flour and place rolled out dough on it.

Place portions of filling in one side of rolled out dough then fold other half of sheet over filling:

Cut to form the pastéis and press down firmly around each one of them using a fork so they won’t break when you fry them:

Place them in a baking sheet, separating the layers with cling film or plastic:

Heat a generous amount – 3 cups would do - of vegetable oil on a medium saucepan and fry the pastéis until they’re golden – the oil has to be very hot and the pastéis will be ready fast. Remove from oil and place them in a baking sheet lined with paper towel:

Makes 16 pastéis – aprox. 15x7cm each.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I overcame my fear of deep frying. These look so good! Stuffed fried pastry are definitely yummy!

Toni said...

I would love these! But then again, I don't think I had a bad meal in Brazil. Love the food, the music and the sound of the language, as well as the people!

Can I order a couple dozen? ;-)

Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you love eggplants, you would definitely love the baba ganouj - especially if you take the time to grill the eggplant rather than broil it in the oven. Enjoy!

Lia said...

Ohh Patricia, homepade pastel? Very impressive! My husband's going to love you for giving me a recipe for one of his all-time favorite snack!

Freya said...

Patricia! These look lovely! I think I would like them filled with dulce de leche..
Is the green in them tomatilla or hearts of palm?

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What a lovely post! These look delishes. These doughs are really interesting explores.

wheresmymind said...

Beautiful! God I do love fried food ;)

Valentina said...

PAt, there is nothink like a good pastel. And yours seems so scrumptious!!! As a fellow brazilian I have to say that I did not know about the salsa on the side - after all we are from different parts of the country and our eating habits vary a tad.How fascinating!! I congratulate you on taking up the challenge. pretty corageous.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Pastel dough from scratch?! Wow! I think I would stick to wonton skins or dumpling wrappers. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, Patricia, your efforts paid off. These look delectable! Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

One of the many things that I love about your blog is learning about different cuisines that are out there. These look fantastic!

Gattina Cheung said...

Oh my dear!!! I really luuuuuuve deep-fried food! I got to try this one! But I tried to click the link you highlight for cachaca, the link is broken. Is the Pastel still ok without cachaca?
Crossbred of wanton and samosa?! Great, I love them all! Your pastel done beautifully Pat!

Stella said...

thanks for such an informative & descriptive post Pat! Your pastel sure looks great. Indeed they look a bit like Chinese Wontons, except that we use pork as ingredient.:)
Yummy Yums!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Veron, thank you!
Fried food is not healthy but it's certainly yummy!

Toni, this is such a nice thing to "say", thank you! I'm glad you like Brazilian stuff, so I know you'll come back to my blog! Yay! :)
I wish I could ship you some of these!
Your blog is delicious and I love visiting and commenting there - so, there's no need to thank me! It's a pleasure!

Lia, as a good Brazilian he's crazy for pastel, that's nice! :)
Do you like it too?

Freya, thank you!
Dulce de leche is amazing, I'll post an update about the sweet pastéis, it's great to sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon after you fry them - yummy!

Tanna, thank you!You are so sweet.

Jeff, who doesn't? ;)

Tina, you know what I'm talking about, my dear friend.
Vinagrete is pretty common here in São Paulo, maybe you should try it next time you have pastel.
Thank you for all the encouragement and the lovely words.

Lydia, wonton skins would work fine, too! Thank you for the kind words, dear.

Susan, thank you for commenting, I love it when you visit my blog!

Kristen, I feel the same way about your blog - how about that delicious recipe with truffle oil? ;)

Gattina, thank you for warning me about the link, I've fixed it already.
I think some kind of alcohol should be used, maybe a clear spirit similar to cachaça.
Thank you for the lovely comment, my friend!

Valentina, I love writing about Brazilian food because my dear readers - you're included, of course - are so eager to know about it!
I've never had Chinese wontons, now I'm even more curious!

Thank you all for the wonderful comments!

Kirsten said...

Wow! Those look so good! Anything fried and filled with stuff is good in my world. :)

Thanks for sharing the homemade dough recipe too.


Anonymous said...

These look wonderful, Patricia! In a weird cross-cultural moment, there is something similar I discovered on a road trip through northern Michigan, pretty darned far from Brazil--veggie and meat-filled pies called pasties! For the record, it's pronounced PASS-tees, not PAYS-tees, like the old school burlesque queens wore.

Unknown said...

I was just going to say, you have pastels.

Up here we have pasties.

I would be hard pressed to use pasties in place of Paystees, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! I am in love with those little beauties already!! You described them so well, I'm very hungry now. I'm thinking of all the ways they could be fixed. You could have a party just serving them! :):) Thank you for that!

Anonymous said...

It's so beautiful, I'm hungry.
Thank you

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I didn't realize you could make a dough like this from scratch - what a great use of the pasta roller, too! Looks delicious!

Freya said...

Thank you for the update Patricia! I feel my diet rapidly slipping from my grasp!

Lia said...

I do like pastel a lot, but I'm more obsessed with pao de queijo!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Kirsten, thank you! It was a great oy to share this with you.

Terry, tks, you're very kind! It is wonderful to know our food is not that far apart - interesting similarities!

Mimi, small world, isn't it?

Sher, thank you! You can fill them with whatever you want, you name it. And you can also make them in many sizes - bite sized portions would be lovely for that!

Hello, Pom D'Api - thank you for stopping by!

T.W., thank you - it's a pretty simple dough, the only problem is rolling it out without a machine. ;)

Freya, I thank you, dear!

Lia, if you like pão de queijo you should check Melissa's post - she used a recipe from a very dear friend of mine:

Lia said...

Like is an understatement. I'm obsessed with them! I just checked out her post and am now completely inspired to make them. Thanks for passing it on!

Unknown said...

If you don't want to make the dough from scratch what kind of dough would you buy. We brought some back from Brazil but it is gone and now looking for a substitute in the US,

Patricia Scarpin said...

Hi, Daryl, tks for visiting my blog!

I think you can use wonton wrappers and have a very similar effect.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but I found your pastel recipe on google and I loved it! I am living in Recife, BR now and am glad to have a pastel recipe that I can make in the States too! Thank you!


Allen said...

Oh my god, these look amazing, Patricia! I definetly need to fry mine next time :-)

ObentoMommy said...

Ahhh, pastel...your post made me think of all the delicious fillings you can have in pastel... cheese, hearts of palm, carne seca... Yummy! For your readers in California or the US, Costco sells these uncooked tortillas package that are very similar to the pastel dough and it might save you time... I tried with Monterey Jack Pepper cheese in them and it fried beautifully!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Obento Mommy, thank you for the wonderful tips for the American readers!

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