Brazil is a colorful country with its cuisine as colorful as its culture and love for sports. One of the largest Portuguese speaking countries in the world, with both African and Portuguese influence on its food, Brazil is a melting pot of flavors that are simple but impacts your taste buds like nothing else. Here is a list of 20 must-haves if you visit Brazil!
Doesn’t sound like much since it is basically just fried cassava flour that sometimes includes bits of fried bacon or eggs, but this is something you’ll never really appreciate unless you actually try it. Farofa is unique to Brazil and is served alongside rice and beans. The way it absorbs the juices of the curry and gives you this nice texture to your everyday rice and beans, which is otherwise just mushy, will never make you look down on cassava flour again.
2. Feijão Tropeiro
A traditional dish, consisting of pinto beans sautéed in tapioca flour (a characteristic Brazilian ingredient) with eggs, onions, garlic and a surprising twist – bacon. After having this dish, you’ll want to add eggs and bacon to everything. Cooked in a large metal pot, the garlic and spices are added, topped with sliced chard leaves, scallions and finally pre-cooked beans and cassava flour. Simply delightful.
A regional dish from Rio de Janeiro and Brazil’s most famous dish, it could basically be called a bean stew made from traditional black beans cooked with cuts of pork, sausages or beef over a slow flame. Vegetables like okra, pumpkin or even bananas are added with a hearty mixture of spices and cooked in a thick clay pot. The end dish is thick, hearty and delicious stew that is usually served with farofa (toasted cassava flour), white rice, slices of oranges, fried bananas and collard greens. A versatile dish, no two feijoadas can ever be the same.
The best place to have this dish is Casa da Feijoada, which translates to the house of Feijoada that serves numerous variations of this dish.
4. Moqueca de Camarão
A dish which is a mixture of African and Brazilian culinary styles, Moqueca is essentially a made with shrimps stewed in coconut milk and palm oil along with various spices and vegetables and simmered up to an hour. A counterpart to the more meatier Feijoada, Moqueca is a signature seafood dish that sometimes includes salmons and prawns. Like feijoada, this dish can be found nationwide in various permutations.
To try Moqueca de Camarão head to Cantinho do Curuca which has a beachside location with a party atmosphere.
Another stew-like delicacy by the Brazilians, this thick-gravy like dish is made from shrimp or fish cooked in peanut sauce, coconut oil and palm oil. Herbs, spices, onions and bell peppers also added till it comes out a spicy creamy dish that is enjoyed with white rice or another popular dish Acaraje. Enjoyed in many regions of Brazil, you are sure to have second helpings!
6. Romeu e Julieta
A surprising combination of things you couldn’t have imagined going well with each other, this simple dish is made of a thick jelly-like paste of guava placed between two slices of mild white cheese. Served as a cheesecake, as a part of a pie, or simply as guava jelly and cheese, you’d be left wondering who came up with this and why it hasn’t caught on worldwide!
Similar to a chicken pot pie, this little snack has a crispy crust and is soft and savory inside. A large torte is filled with chicken or any meat of your choice and a mix of veggies like hearts of palm, corn, peas and olives. Served in most food stalls and cafe’s, it is also enjoyed for a family get-together on the weekends.
You can’t go more Brazilian than this. Salpicao is a traditional salad made from a hodgepodge of a lot of interesting flavors. Shredded chicken is mixed with mayo, carrots, apples, ham, olives, raisins, peas and topped with shoestring potatoes or crispy french fries which gives it a crunchiness. Ideal for a heavy lunch, it is quick and easy to make, delicious and filling at the same time! Found in most street food stalls, every place has its own twist.
Beware of this Brazilian dessert because is insanely addictive! Pave is a Brazilian tiramisu but with its own kick. A no-bake dessert, it is made from layers and layers of different cookies, creams, fruits, and chocolates. Although it doesn’t have coffee in it, it does have a hint of liquor. The recipes for Pave range from sophisticated to the simplest homemade ones, and probably every combination of flavors out there has already been invented. From strawberry Pave to white chocolate pave, you name it, and it exists.
A must-have traditional Brazilian dessert, these cupcake-sized baked goodies are made from egg yolks, butter, sugar, and grated coconut. A very sweet dessert that looks like a small circular custard, it has a yellow color from the egg yolks a toasted golden bottom dense with coconut and a gel-like custard on top that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you take a bite.
Bacalhao is a dish sourced from salted codfish. Dried salted codfish was a staple in Portugal where salting was a way of preserving food. Since Brazil was a Portuguese colony, Bacalhao became a popular dish served in Brazilian homes. Salted cod goes through a process of rehydration and desalination for a period of one full day which makes this a dish that is had once in while during huge family dinners. This cod is now baked with potatoes, olives, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices and served with white rice on the side and a drizzle of olive oil. Perfect for a wholesome meal with tidbits of all your favorite flavors.
A one-pot dish that serves as the main course, this is basically a chicken stew that is cooked with rice. Galinhada literally means chicken and this mix of rice and meat is cooked in saffron which gives it a traditional yellow color. Enjoyed best during cold winter nights when you want something warm and filling or during family gatherings and parties.
One of the most famous dishes in northern Brazil, this is a dish like no other. Made from the leaves of the manioc plant i.e. cassava, it is prepared over a period of 7 days. Since the leaves are poisonous, they are crushed and boiled in water for a week until it loses its green color and takes on a black hue. Pork and beef are added to this broth and finally served with white rice, manioc flour and tucupi sauce with hot peppers. Eaten during religious festivals, this is something one must definitely try!
For all the spirit lovers out there, Brazil won’t disappoint you. Cachaças is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. The national spirit of Brazil, this drink is exclusively used as a mix in tropical drinks with caipirinha being the most popular cocktail which is fiery and uses uncaged and uncolored cachaças. Also sipped straight by most drink-lovers, they take it in and linger on the taste in their mouth, just like the Russians do with their vodka.
A dessert most enjoyed during Festas Juninas(translates to something like June parties), Canjica is a humble porridge made with grated fresh corn. This sweet, warm pudding is made by grating ears of fresh white corn to extract the juice from them, and then milk, sugar, and spices are added. This concoction is cooked till it reaches a thick creamy consistency with subtle hints of cinnamon and vanilla. Served in community stalls during the Festa Juninas, this serves as a great snack for dessert or even breakfast, which is now available all year round.
One of Brazilian specialty is Brazilian style barbeque which is called churrasco. Deeply ingrained in Brazil’s food culture, barbequing involves coating the meat with salt, herbs, wine and other dressings depending on the meat. The meat on skewers is slowly roasted over an open-flamed charcoal bed. Once the outer layer is cooked and crisp, he skewers are carried around to serve, usually with a sprinkle of farofa for the real Brazilian touch. It is enjoyed with rice and beans, fried plantains or cheese bread, and is a delight to eat with different cuts and chunks of meat with smoky wooden flavors.
Try churrasco at Porcão Rio’s where they’ll indulge you in a wide range of barbeque while enjoying the view through their huge windows
A common sandwich in Brazil, this is made using a french bun after removing its inner part. Then stuffed with all good things in life including melted cheese (mozzarella), slices of roast beef, tomatoes and pickled cucumber. A dish that can be whipped up by anyone that is hungry or served in most café’s and food joints, a humble sandwich never tasted better!
This might come as a surprise since it is made from cow’s feet, stewed with vegetables and made into a thick savory soup. A dish that warms one up and can be enjoyed on winter nights, was brought in by Portuguese immigrants who lived in cold climates during winters. Not having given up their Portuguese roots, this dish has stayed in tropical Brazil and is gulped down by Brazilians at the end of the night to ward off a hangover or in the mornings to compensate for the heavy dinner last night. Every person has their own recipe but ask a Brazilian and they’ll swear only by their mother’s mocoto!
19. Bobó de camarão
Referred to as shrimp bobó in English, this is a shrimp chowder made from cassava and obviously shrimp, which has heavy African influences. Like most Brazilian curries, this is made in palm oil, with shrimp added to a cassava puree to thicken the curry. Coconut milk and other regional ingredients are also added which gives it a typical Brazilian touch. Served with white rice or eaten as a dish in itself, this is one of the many shrimp dishes that can be enjoyed in this country which has influences from different cultures.
20. Olho de Sogra
In Portuguese, this name means “eye of the mother-in-law”, which is a funny name, but it has nothing to do with anyone’s mother-in-law. Made from a pitted prune stuffed with a mixture of egg yolk, coconut and condensed milk (which is a recipe for Brazilian Beijinhos (coconut desserts)), these sweets are then rolled in granulated sugar. Since this candy looks like an eye, it has been named such, but these little bonbons are too good to be missed!