Eating in Brazil is an absolute pleasure. Just like the country itself, Brazilian cuisine is vibrant, colorful, diverse, and exciting. Brazil is a vast country and the food vary greatly from region to region.
The typical food of Brazil has many influences. The Portuguese had a huge impact in shaping Brazil’s culture and traditions. Brazilian food has also been influenced by other European, African, South American, and Asian countries.
Combined with the range of food which is produced in the native farms, mountains, and coastlines, traditional Brazilian food is rich, delicious, and a highlight of any trip there!
Here are the top ten traditional Brazilian dishes which you have to try.
Barbecued meat is a Brazilian speciality. Picanha (rump) is the most popular cut and it is seasoned with only salt before it’s cooked to perfection. The thick layer of fat is charred and the tender, pink, smokey middle falls apart in your mouth. Picanha is one of the highlights you’ll find at a Brazilian barbecue but there plenty of others including wild boar and chicken hearts.
Feijoada is a rich, hearty stew made with different cuts of pork and black beans. It is the national dish and is served countrywide. Traditionally, it’s made with offal such as trotters and ears which are slow-cooked and the whole process can take up to 24 hours (which is why most people just have it in restaurants nowadays). Caldinho de feijão is a lighter version which contains less meat.
Moqueca is delicious fish stew which is served piping hot in a clay pot. There are various regional variations of the dish but the basic ingredients are fish, tomatoes, onions, and coriander (though this doesn’t do it justice!). In some places coconut milk is used to make the sauce creamier. There are two neighboring states, Baianos and Capixabas which both claim the recipe to have invented the dish (both serve delicious versions).
Brazil’s version of the chocolate truffle. They are a kids’ favorite (or anyone with a sweet tooth) are very easy to make. Condensed milk is simmered with cocoa powder, mixed with butter, and then shaped into balls and covered in sprinkles. They are named after the 1940s political figure Brigadier Eduardo Gomes and have been popular since the World War II.
Bolinho de Bacalhau
Bolinho de Bacalhau literally means ‘little cod ball’. The delicious, fishy snacks are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The pieces of salted cod are firstly boiled before they are deep-fried. Salted cod is very popular in Portugal and the Brazilian’s love for it stems from the colonial era. Bolinho de bacalhau can be served as an appetizer or as a main course with rice and vegetables.
A thick stew made from shrimp, bread, ground nuts, coconut milk, palm oil, and a mixture of herbs, which is mashed into a paste. It is often served with rice or with another popular Brazilian dish, acarajé (see below). It originates from the Northeastern state of Bahia. There are different variations of the dish, the shrimp can be replaced with tuna, chicken, cod, or just vegetables.
Acarajé is another dish from Bahia and it’s made from black-eyed peas which are mashed with chopped onions, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then deep-fried in palm oil. There is a healthier version of the dish where the ingredients are boiled. Acarajé is often served on its own as a popular street food or served as a side dish with vatapá (see above).
Pão de queijo
The Brazilian “cheese bread” originates from the Minas Gerais, a region in the south. The light, fluffy rolls became popular in the 1950s though recipe dates back centuries. The dough is made from cassava flour and queijo Minas, a Brazilian soft cheese. They can be eaten at any time of the day as a snack and they are also popular for breakfast, served with cheese and jam.
It is essentially a chicken pie. It has a delicious, flaky crust which is filled with casseroled chicken and a mix of vegetables such as corn, hearts of palm, and peas. Beef and shrimp are sometimes used instead of chicken. It’s often served for family lunches and dinners at weekends and on Brazil’s public holidays. Small versions the dish are typically sold at street stalls and botecos.
A salty, delicious, mushy dish made from small pieces of bacon fried with tapioca flour. It is served with rice and beans which absorb the smokeyness of the bacon. Recipes contain varying amounts of salt, bacon, and spices and the consistency of the farofa varies greatly. It can be eaten as a main or as a side dish, which works particularly well at a barbeque.