In Bahia, street food can easily be redefined as beach food. There are scores of little cafés and stalls where things are freshly made for lounging customers. Teenage boys and girls run around taking orders up and down the white sandy beach and ferrying them back to the cafés. There are also vendors who walk along selling their wares. It was from one of these that I had these fantastic skewers, fresh from a charcoal-filled brazier. When the smoky grilled cheese is handed over, it comes with a wad of paper towels and a warning in Portuguese that it is very hot. I take heed.
– 2 small dried red chilies, crushed.
– 1 tbsp dried oregano or marjoram, crumbled.
– 3 tbsp olive oil.
– juice of ½ lemon.
– 1lb (450g) queijo de coalho or haloumi.
– cheese, cut into 12 rectangular blocks.
– freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Thread the cheese onto 12 bamboo skewers, and soak the cheese, skewers and all, in cold water for an hour, to prevent the skewers burning on the grill and to remove excess salt from the cheese.
Step 3: Heat a charcoal grill until the coals are white hot. (If you want to cook inside, heat a grill pan until very hot.) When your grill is ready, sprinkle the cheese skewers with the remaining oregano and a few grindings of black pepper. Grill the cheese for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown but still firm (not completely melted).
Step 4: Arrange on a plate and drizzle with the chili-olive oil dressing. Serve at once. These skewers are delicious as a snack or could be eaten at the start of a summer barbecue before other dishes are served. They work very well for meat eaters and vegetarians alike because they are quite substantial and make a nice change from grilled corn on the cob.