A combination of African, European and local ingredients, Brazilian cuisine is one of the richest in the world, both for its diversity and cultural influences. Some dishes are specific to certain regions of the country, while others can be found in every corner.
Brazil has a lot to offer for those who love the taste of quality food and unique flavors. So today we will share with you some delicious suggestions of dishes, sides, snacks and desserts that you probably won’t find anywhere else in the world – except in the kitchens of Brazilians who have migrated to other countries.
Starting with Brazil’s most commonly used ingredient, beans. In Brazil, the most common types of (beans) are black and white (also called “carioca”). These are usually seasoned with garlic, onion and olive oil, but many Brazilians love to add additional ingredients like pumpkin, cucumbers, beef jerky, tripe (stomach lining of various cattle animals) and more. This is usually mixed with rice and some protein.
Beans are also used to make acarajé (akara), very popular in the state of Baía, and the famous feijoada (bean stew), loved in Rio de Janeiro, which consists of a thick or thin broth with sausage and other parts of the pig. It is usually served with our next dish… the farofa.
Farofa consists of manioc and corn flour mixed in butter or other fats, and can be served with various ingredients such as bacon, egg, meat and even bananas. It is usually served as a side dish for meats and feijoada (black bean stew). In Brazilian markets, it is possible to find manufactured farofa, which may not be as tasty as homemade, but it still gets the job done.
Camarão na Moranga (Shrimp stuffed pumpkin)
This seafood is used in many typical Brazilian dishes, and the Camarão na Moranga is one of the most tasty and remarkable. When preparing this dish, remove the lid and seeds of the pumpkin, then wrap it in aluminum foil and put in the oven. Once the pumpkin is cooked, spread the cream cheese inside the pumpkin and add the shrimp seasoned cream. A delicacy you need to try!
Coxinha are fried, cone-shaped snacks sold in many convenience stores, bakeries and markets in Brazil. They are prepared with cooked cassava, wheat flour, egg and meat, usually chicken or ground meat. It is very common to find them at birthday parties and coffee break events. A tip: if possible, try them right after they come out of the oven.
Pão de queijo (Cheese bread)
As the name suggests, it is a roll made of starch and some type of cheese. The most common types used are mozzarella, parmesan or fresh minas cheese, which varies based on preference. Like “coxinha”, these are also sold everywhere, mainly in convenience stores and bakeries, where it is prepared daily. They are very popular in the state of Minas Gerais, the land of cheese and dulce de leche.
Cassava (also known as macaxeira in Brazil) is usually served fried and in small pieces in many Brazilian restaurants as a snack or a side with meat dishes. Paired nicely with beer, it is a happy hour favorite. Especially in the countryside of São Paulo, where many bars also serve “escondidinho” (Shepherd’s pie), which is nothing more than a tasty purée with dried meat and cheese.
Churrasco (Grilled meat)
A typical dish from the south of Brazil, families gather every Sunday specially to eat churrasco, which is just roasted meat on skewers placed inside a brick barbecue. Salt is usually the main seasoning, but some people like to add herbs, pepper, garlic and spices.
But make no mistake, even though it is typical of Rio Grande do Sul, churrasco is far from being exclusive to the region. In all of Brazil, it is very common to have barbecues every weekend with friends and family to enjoy a good churrasco.
With local origins, tapioca ended up becoming a typical dish in the Northeast and became very popular throughout the country in recent years for being a healthier alternative to bread and other carbohydrates. Extracted from cassava, which is already very tasty itself, tapioca gets even better with salty and sweet fillings. Some of these fillings include shredded chicken, cheese, ground meat, butter, vegetables, dulce de leche and condensed milk.
Brigadeiro (Fudge balls)
Tasting brigadeiro is as mandatory as tasting pão de queijo and coxinha for those coming to Brazil. Originating in Rio de Janeiro, this sweet is prepared with condensed milk, butter and powdered chocolate, and then rolled into small balls with chocolate sprinkles. It is usually served at children’s parties, but can also be purchased at bakeries, convenience stores and markets. Some prefer to eat it with a spoon watching a movie or TV series.
This is one of the most loved desserts by Brazilians. It is made with eggs, condensed milk and sugar, as well as a delicious, caramelized syrup. It usually has a creamy and gelatinous consistency and was inspired by Portuguese sweets.
Made with egg, grated coconut and sugar, this is another sweet from the Northeast that became popular throughout the country. It has a creamy consistency, and, like brigadeiro, it is usually found in bakeries, markets and convenience stores, and served in small, paper cupcake liners.