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Cachupa – Cape Verde National Dish – Day 61/Dish 31

March 10, 2010

O Canada!  I will forever be in your debt for sharing your national dish with us.  Poutine is still a recurring fantasy after three days. 

Our next destination is across the Atlantic Ocean and south to the shores of northwestern Africa.  To get there from Canada, we sail southwest till we reach the Cabo Verde Archipelago off the coasts of Mauritania and Senegal.

Yellow Circle indicates area of Cape Verde Islands

If you have ever wondered where Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic, look no further than the Cape Verde Islands.  Although tropical cyclones can develop in other parts of the Atlantic and Caribbean, the Cape Verde storms are the most powerful variety due to the distance they travel across warm open water before making landfall somewhere in the Americas.

Cape Verde was uninhabited until Portuguese explorers found the islands in 1462. The Portuguese reached Santiago, the largest and most populated island and founded the first European tropical settlement at Ribiera Grande, Santiago.  Today more than half of the population of Cape Verde lives on Ilha de Santiago. 

The Islands of Cape Verde were prosperous through several hundred years of Transatlantic Slave Trading.  As the slave trade ended, so did the good fortunes of Cape Verde.  Although it is now re-developing, Cape Verdeans still struggle with poverty and subsistence agriculture as well as fishing to supply their basic needs.

After hundreds of years of Portuguese rule, a growing movement for independence from Portugal began in the 1940’s and early 1950’s.  Portugal tried various measures to stop this, but as the years progressed, both Cape Verde and Portugal Guinea (now Guinea- Bissau) began a guerilla type revolution to gain freedom.  The revolutionary party successfully fought the Portuguese and their African Allies and Guinea gained independence in 1974.  Cape Verde earned its independence in 1975.  This was accomplished with the support of the Soviet Bloc nations and a single party system of governance was adopted from 1975 till 1990.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cape Verde established a constitution, and formed political parties that would continue to adapt into the current political environment.  

Today, Cape Verde ranks among the highest in Africa for stability and rule of law.  The government has formed a constitution and holds free and fair elections every five years.  Efforts to improve the economy have been largely successful and Cape Verde was upgraded from “least developed” to “developing” status in 2007.  Continued efforts to diversify commerce through a focus on new agricultural exports and tourism have started to show some results.  The future looks bright once again for the “Birthplace of Hurricanes”.

Cape Verde’s national dish is called Cachupa. It can be made with either Fish (peixes) or meat.  In reading an interesting article on Cachupa from University of Massachusetts (see link below) an interesting point was made comparing Cachupa to a barometer to measure the economic situation of the cooks making the dish.  The more expensive the ingredients, the better off the family cooking it.  There are a limitless number of Cachupa recipes that reflect personal tastes, and of course, economic conditions.  Cachupa is served at celebrations and family events such as weddings and can indicate much about Cape Verde’s culture.   

This recipe is very similar to Feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, another Portuguese former colony. 



Appearance: 2 out of 5

Aroma: 3 out of 5

Flavor: 4 out of 5

Total: 9 out of 15


1 whole chicken cut into serving pieces

1 lb Chorizo sausages

1.5 lb Pork Shoulder Roast

½ lb Salt Pork

2 cups White Hominy

1 cup Kidney Beans dried

1 cup Pinto Beans dried

1 cup Small Lima Beans dried

4 medium onions rough chopped

6 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

5 tomatoes peeled and sliced into chunks (or a can of peeled tomatoes)

2 Small Green Cabbages cut into chunks or wedges

3 quarts chicken stock or bouillon equivalent

1 cup chopped Cilantro (coriander)

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

Salt and Pepper


Rinse the Hominy and heat to a boil in a small sauce pan with water fully covering the hominy.  Boil 10 minutes and skim the foam off the top as you go.  Add ½ the Salt Pork and continue simmering for 4 minutes.

Rinse the Beans and heat to a boil in a medium saucepan with water fully covering the beans.  Boil for 5 minutes and add ½ the salt pork.  Continue boiling for 4 minutes.

Add contents of both pans to a large 20 quart Stock Pot.

Add 3 quarts of Chicken Stock or bouillon equivalent.

Add 2 bay leaves and 2 tbsp Olive Oil to the mix.

Set heat to high and bring to a boil.  Then turn to simmer for 2 hrs.

Add the meats to the pot.

Sauté the tomatoes, garlic, and onion in 2 tbsp vegetable oil until the veggies soften.

Add the mixture to the pot and stir.  Make sure mixture is completely covered with plenty of liquid (either stock or water to supplement)

Allow to cook for additional 1.5 hours

Add Cabbage chunks 1/2 hr before cooking is finished.

Season the pot with salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to sit off the heat for 20 minutes so the flavors incorporate fully.

Serve over rice or Cous Cous.

Serves 8-12 people.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 8:26 pm

    I think it’s uncanny that the last two dishes have connections for me! Several years ago, my husband’s company sponsored a young Brazilian man and his family in their efforts to emigrate to the States. Fabio and Tanya invited us to dinner one evening and made this dish for us. asked Tanya about the recipe and she said that Fabio’s brother showed him how to make this dish … he had learned from a young woman from the Cape Verde Islands… cuisine certainly moves around, huh?

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