National Brazilian cuisine will satisfy the appetities of even the most discerning of food obsessed travellers. Alongside the variety of meat dishes and barbecues this country is so famous for, it also offers a huge range of exotic vegetables and fruits from the Amazonian forests, plenty of seafood meals and an abundance of yummy desserts. A delicious blend of 3 cultures (the country’s indigenous roots, blended with Portuguese and African influences), here you’ll discover specialities that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. We’ve put together ten of our favourite mouth-watering Brazilian dishes you need to try on your tour to Brazil.
1. Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls)
Pão de Queijo are mini cheesy puffs in a ball-like shape that are soft but chewy and puffy. The recipe is simple with the following ingredients: tapioca flour or tapioca starch, eggs, milk, cheese + a pinch of salt. Brazilians often eat these delicious cheese rolls for breakfast. But be careful: they are devilishly addictive!
2. Moqueca de Peixe (Brazilian seafood stew)
This fish stew is a very typical traditional Brazilian dish that originated in the Northeast of the country, in the state of Bahia. The word moqueca comes from the native expression ‘moquem’ which means ‘a stick for grilling or roasting on hot coals’. This word was born of the natives’ habit of cooking fish and meat wrapped in leaves, often banana leaves, over a fire on a skewer. Today, moqueca is usually prepared in a clay pot and stewed in coconut milk along with other small fish without bones and shrimps, with the addition of onions, garlic and coriander.
This Brazilian national dish is made from black beans, beef and a mix of other meats, such as bacon, ribs, sausage and smoked pork. Brazilians say that feijoada has as many versions as there are cooks in the country. Some versions are a little spicy from the sausages, others are totally mild. Some people’s feijoada is thick meats, for others more like a traditional stew. Normally it is served with white rice and sautéed veggies like kale, white cabbage, potatoes, carrots or even pumpkin. One common ingredient here is carne seca, a salted dried beef.
4. Pastel de nata
This Portuguese egg tart topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon is world-famous. Made of a puff pastry filled with a custard made of cream, egg yolks, sugar, flour and lemon zest, it is mouth-watering and addictive. The competition for the best pastel de nata is fierce not only in Lisbon, in Brazil some bakeries keep their recipe secret and have people queuing outside for hours to try the best of the best.
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Chances are high you’ve encountered Brazil’s national drink, the famous caipirinha, somewhere in the world already. Refreshing and easy to make, this cocktail is made of fresh lime juice, sugar and cachaça, a spirit as essential to the Brazilian identity as football and carnival. Various caipirinha recipes also include fresh fruits like pineapple or passion fruit, so make sure to try a few variations.
Churrasco is a Brazilian barbecue where juicy pieces, slices, steaks, and chops of beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken or turkey are placed on large skewers and grilled over a wood fire. It all originated in the early 1800s when the gauchos would get together and start a fire, adding large portions of meat on skewers and slowly grilling the meat.
Today, in the restaurants known as churrascarias, the waiters circulate among the tables in showing off the succulent meat to hungry diners. After the customers have chosen their preferred type of meat, it is sliced off the skewers to the dining plates. It is a real show and worth experiencing on your tour to Brazil. Also known as rodízio, this barbecue experience is ‘all you can eat’, so make sure to come with an empty stomach.
7. Bolinhos de Bacalhau (Brazilian fried cod fritters)
These round-shaped fried cod fritters are one of the most beloved Brazilian dishes. The cod is soaked and deboned before it is made into a creamy mixture, shaped into elliptical forms and fried until golden brown on the outside.
Brazilians like to eat it as a snack on the beach, but you can also enjoy them as an appetizer served in restaurants or at formal dinner parties. If you are having Bolinhos de Bacalhau as the main course, they are normally served with mashed potatoes, onions, parsley, eggs and a variety of spices, or sometimes accompanied by rice and various fresh salads.
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8. Bobó de Camarão (Bobó Shrimps)
This classic dish is another delicious Brazilian dish from the state of Bahia and strongly linked to the state capital, Salvador. It is made of the fundamental ingredients in the Bahian chef’s cupboard: manioc, coconut milk, dendê palm oil and the sweet fresh shrimps for which Brazil’s north-east coast is so well-known.
A ‘bobó’ is a cream or puree, which can be served unadorned or finished with shrimp or other protein. Depending on the recipe the puree can be as thin as a soup or something more substantial and thicker.
Pitaya is one of the most delicious exotic fruits in the Amazon that is sold everywhere you go in Brazil, whole or cut into pieces. Although native to many parts of Asia, it is very famous in Latin America and has a fresh, light taste with nutty seeds that are somewhat similar to the ones of kiwi.
Brazil’s absolute favourite treat, brigadeiros are incredibly addicting. Made with only a few ingredients (condensed milk, cocoa and butter, and covered with a layer of chocolate), these fudgy balls will win your heart in one bite. Different toppings and flavours such as lime, passion fruit, pistachio, white chocolate, Nutella and others can be found in special brigadeiro shops, which are the new trend in Brazil.
Interested in travelling to Brazil to try delicious Brazilian dishes? Let us know in the comments which of these intrigued you the most and check out our Trafalgar Brazil Travel Guide.