Portugal celebrates "O Magusto", or also known as "Festas de Castanhas", in honour of Saint Martinho on the second forthnight and when people pay tribute to Saint Martinho. Saint Martinho was a Roman soldier, who on a winter day, cut off half his cape to cover a shirtless beggar although he, himself, was wet and cold.


Legend has it that when performed that act of kindness, the clouds parted and sunlight came in thus on the day O Magusto is celebrated, it´s rumored to have good weather. That´s the day, villagers or nowadays, people in general, roast chestnuts and drink Agua Pe, the first tasting of the wine before maturity. Due to the good weather on O Magusto, it´s when winemakers and grape farmers in Portugal collect their ripe grapes. Thus O Magusto is a day of drinking Agua Pe, eating chestnuts and sharing them all together with joy and happiness with your loved ones and the people around you.
Since we are in winter now, one of the best dishes to have to warm yourself up, is a good Chestnut Rice and it´s pretty simple to make too. Chestnuts are healthy and good for you too.

Here is the recipe:


Ingredients:(Makes about 4 fistful-size bowls)
About 20 to 24 pieces of chestnuts (have to give some leeways to the bad ones)
1 cup of rice
1 cup of brown rice (arroz integral - only cause I prefer it, you can keep to the normal rice if you like)
Sea salt
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Be prepared to take two hours for this as to roast the chestnuts take about 30 to 40 minutes. Start by turning on the oven to about 350 degrees or on maximum. Clean the nuts under running water.

2. Take a small fruit or paring knife and scour the chestnuts. This means just cut a small slit on the skin. It shouldn´t be too difficult.

3. After scouring, place the nuts on a baking tray or in a ceramic bowl and sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt all over.

4. Let the nuts roast, tossing them around a bit at 10 minutes intervals, until you can poke a toothpick into the flesh or can see that there´s space between skin and flesh. Wait for 2 minutes and you can start peeling the skins off. Chuck out the bad ones.

5. Now, comes the rice. Combine the rice together and rinse them out until the water turns clear. Splash on a good amount of sake as well as well as water, enough for the rice to cook. Season well.

6. Place the roughly chopped nuts atop of the rice and don´t mix them in just yet. Cover the pot and put to boil.

7. If you cook with brown rice, it´ll take longer (approximately 20 to 30 minutes) while plain rice takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If, like me, you mixed, then keep checking the rice at 7 minutes interval and add water if it starts to sizzle and the rice is still not yet cooked. But add just a wee bit of water at a time, not a whole glassful.

8. Once the rice is cooked, use a spoon and stir the rice around, fluffing them up. You can smell the sweetness of the chestnuts already.

For the complementing dish of Pan fried Sweet Pork Loins:


Ingredients:(Serves 4)

Part A:
8 palm-size pork loins
4 tbsp of light soy sauce
Generous amount of garlic powder
2 tbsp of oyster sauce mixed with 2 tbsp of hot water to dilute
4 tbsp of honey
Salt and pepper

Part B:
Sesame oil
Roasted sesame seed (optional)

pork lions


1. Absolutely simple! Combine Part A all together and let marinate for at least 2 hours. To get the best effect, it should be marinated overnight but 2 hours is suffice.

2. Warm up the pan on mid-high and drizzle olive oil enough to cover the surface of the pan with a thin film.

3. Just as the pan starts to smoke, place the pork loins. Arrange to fit around the pan.

4. Turn after 2 minutes. After two turns, when the pork loin starts to brown, lower the fire then pour in the rest of the marinade. Cover the pan for about 5 to 7 minutes.

5. After that, remove the pot and give the pan a bit of a shake to evenly distribute the sauce. By covering the pan, the steam that is supposed to be released into the air, condenses and drips back onto the pan, making a lot of sizzling noises. When you open it, the juices from the condensation gets released into the air as well as soaked in the pork loins. Yum!

And, you´re done. Place a side of fresh lettuce and tomatoes, serve the steaming hot Chestnut Rice and the Panfried Sweet Pork Loins, and voila, you have a lunch or dinner that´s delicious and balanced.