The national cuisine of each country demonstrates the character of the inhabitants, the history and culture of the people, values and traditions. Brazilian dishes amaze with their variety, exotic combinations, an explosion of flavors and aromas. This is a real carnival, in which you should definitely take part.
Characteristics of the national cuisine of Brazil
The national cuisine of Brazil is a complex mixture of the traditions of indigenous Indian tribes, European settlers and African slaves brought here. The proximity of seas and rivers, the nature of the soil and the abundance of rainfall explain the many recipes with fish and seafood.
Features and history
Formed at the intersection of several cultures, Brazilian cuisine is characterized by several distinctive features:
- eclecticism – a mixture of classic recipes and exotic products;
- a combination of salty and sweet;
- love for the spicy;
- using local authentic plants;
- rich selection of products.
- In the north of the country, maize and cassava dishes prevail; turtle and duck meat is preferred here.
- In the northeast, you can distinguish dishes from dried, salted or jerky meat.
- In the west, they prefer to eat fried pork; alligator dishes are common.
- Fish and seafood are popular in the southeast.
Popular cooking methods
The main cooking methods are stewing and frying. Numerous stews and stews are stewed, tormented and thickened with cassava flour. Soups are often so thick that they are difficult to distinguish from the second course.
More than stewing, Brazilians love only to fry food: on coals, in hot oil, etc. European traditions of light frying are not in use here. Always roast meat or fish until golden brown.
Main products and ingredients
The colorful menu of Brazil’s many faces can be easily reduced to several product groups. Among them:
- meat (pork, beef, chicken, duck);
- meat offal (beef and chicken kidneys, offal, liver);
- fish (sardines, tuna, cod, flounder, hake);
- seafood (shrimp, lobster, crabs, shellfish);
- cereals (rice, corn);
- vegetables (pumpkin, cassava, tomatoes, onions, garlic);
- fruits (bananas, guava, coconuts, mango);
- vegetable oils (palm, coconut);
- spices (ginger, chili);
- nuts (cashews, peanuts).
Popular Brazilian dishes
It is impossible to cover all Brazilian cuisine. But there are three dozen cornerstone dishes for the nation.
Lombo de Porco
A dish with a Portuguese name is translated quite simply – “loin”. It is prepared in the western regions of the country as simply and clearly as possible. The pork loin is marinated and fried in a whole piece in olive or palm oil.
In Brazil, they prepare amazingly delicious meat dishes.
A beef meat dish popular in the states of southern Brazil. To prepare shurasko, pieces of beef tenderloin are strung on peculiar skewers and fried over coals. The only seasoning is a spicy sauce made from tomatoes, garlic and vinegar. On big holidays, a whole bull is prepared in this way.
Chicken drumsticks and thighs are frequent guests on the Brazilian table when it comes to chicken. Here they are cooked as hot and scalding as possible. For the marinade, use onions and garlic. The marinated legs are first fried, then stewed with tomato paste, chili pepper and tobasco sauce.
Snacks are easy to find in numerous outdoor cafes and large food courts.
A dish of Portuguese origin that has taken root in the northeast of Brazil. The main ingredients are pork and offal, most often liver. Diced meat is fried and then stewed in a spicy vinegar sauce. For foreigners, ordering sarapatel in a cafe, it is better to clarify the recipe for cooking. It is often customary to add animal blood to the sauce when stewing.
Brazilians love fish no less than meat. The popular frigideira dish is a flavored casserole made from several layers of dough, fish and shellfish, drenched in egg yolk and coconut milk. The method of preparation is reflected in the name. From Portuguese, frigideira is translated as “frying pan”.
But in modern cafes, fish casserole can be cooked in a pot or served as a fluffy tortilla. The dish turns out to be hearty, but low-fat and fragrant.
Fish stew watapa (or watapu) can be tasted everywhere: from budget cafes to expensive restaurants. The basis of the dish is fish pieces and shrimp meat. They are blended with tomatoes, nuts, bread crumbs and stewed slowly in coconut milk. Ginger, lime, chili and garlic add piquancy and local flavor to the dish. The thick, scented stew is often served with boiled rice.
The South American dish takaka was known to the Indian tribes who lived in the bed of the Amazon River. And hundreds of years later, it is being prepared in the Brazilian states of the Amazon region. The base of the dish is a rich vegetable broth called tukupi. Well-squeezed cassava juice, a local root vegetable, is used for its preparation. The juice is separated from the starch and boiled with the addition of spices, onions, garlic, cilantro. A large portion of shrimp and local jambu herb are added to the finished broth.
The serving of the dish is interesting. Takaka is poured into a bowl made from pumpkin. Only chopsticks are used for food. They need to collect shrimps and wash them down with the remaining stew.
Pitaya, pitahaya, dragon fruit are several names for an exotic fruit from Latin America. It’s big and colorful. There are pink and yellow varieties that differ from each other not only in color, but also in the presence of thorns. You can eat the whole fruit by peeling it off. The pulp of different varieties tastes like banana, kiwi and figs. The sweet fruit is eaten raw, cut into pieces or scooped out with a spoon. Also, the pulp is used for desserts.
Rice with beans
Small towns have a tradition of making red beans with rice on Mondays. The tradition is simple to explain. The family eats ham all weekend, and by Monday only bone is left from a whole ham. It was the best day for the housewives to mind their own business and cook beans in bone broth for lunch. The dish takes a long time to prepare, but does not require attention to itself. Cooked beans get a bright meaty aroma and go well with rice.
Karuru is the representative of Afro-Brazilian street food in the northeastern states of the country. The African slaves brought here introduced the local population to their recipe for vegetable stew. It is based on okra vegetable, which can be compared to eggplant or zucchini. Ginger, roasted cashews, lime juice are responsible for the spicy taste.
On their own, the Brazilians added shrimp to the African dish.
Farofa is a small crumbly cassava groats, as well as many dishes with its use. For its preparation, flour is mixed with palm oil and dried. The resulting grain can be added to soup, sauce, or slightly boiled and served as a side dish with meat. In different regions you can find smoked, salty, spicy, spicy and even sweet farofa.
Churrasco is a celebration of meat cooked over an open fire. It is not pickled here, but abundantly sprinkled with coarse salt. So that the meat does not burn and dry out even over the strongest fire, it is folded with fat inside. Brazilian barbecue favorite is beef, but pork, chicken, sausages, vegetables are also fried for churrasco. Churraskeria are working in the country.
Feizhao (feijoada) is the main national dish of Brazil. It is a hearty and thick meat stew. In the classic variation, the dish is made with pork, beans, smoked meats and lots of spices, especially cayenne pepper. Fried cassava flour is responsible for its thick consistency and viscosity.
Each region of Feizhao has its own characteristics. Instead of pork, beef or chicken is sometimes added. Black beans are often replaced with red or white beans. Feizhao cannot be called a quick dish: the beans must be soaked the day before and the meat must be marinated for a long time.
Brazilian pastel is a fried pastry similar to a cheburek. The crispy golden crust hides minced meat, cheese, vegetables or seafood. There are dessert options with chocolate or banana filling. The appetizer is sold in pastelariums – cafes that specialize only in these pies.
Koschinya – small chicken pies in a crispy breading. The dish was invented by the court chef. When there was only one chicken thigh left in the royal reserves, the resourceful chef chopped it finely, mixed it with tomatoes, herbs, dough and fried in hot oil.
Now pies with minced chicken are prepared in street cafes, expensive restaurants and sold in supermarkets as semi-finished products.
This is another type of Brazilian pastry popular with locals and tourists. The dough resembles falafel, which is trendy in vegetarian cuisine. For cooking, bean flour is used, close to chickpea and pea. The very juice is hidden inside. The spicy filling is made from minced crab meat, nuts, fresh tomatoes and sometimes shrimp. Season it generously with ginger, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Askarazhe is a fatty and spicy snack. And for this they love her even more.
Like a fish stew, watapa mokeka soup is made from shrimp and fish in coconut milk. They do not put rice in it, but they add more vegetables (tomatoes, onions) and a lot of greens. Mocka soup has been compared to a mild variation of Thai tom yam.
Takaka no tukupi
The dish can be described as a thicker variety of the national takaka soup. Tucupi is a rich vegetable broth used to pour over seafood to make takaka stew. In this case, the broth is not used. The astringent jumbo shrimp and local herb are cooked with cassava sauce to the consistency of a viscous stew.
Itapoa is a delicate crab mousse, to which there is even a saying in Brazil. One of the Brazilian kings, during a pudding dinner, refused to receive an ambassador with important state news, which is why he lost his throne. Hence the saying that no one can interfere with a person who is itapoa. Today, a dish of crab meat, corn flour, milk and eggs is not only available to kings. Delicate, airy pudding is popular far beyond Brazil.
Quindim is the Brazilian counterpart of Europe’s beloved almond flan. Almonds, rare for America, were replaced here by the common coconut. The dessert is based on custard, as in crème brulee or crème caramel. Due to the large amount of yolks, the dessert has a rich yellow color.
Brigadeirus, or brigadeiro, is the most popular Brazilian sweet. Its appearance is associated with the name of Brigadier General Eduardo Gomez. According to one version, he made the sweets himself, according to the other, his subordinates prepared them for him.
The composition of the brigadeiro reflects well the peculiarities of this time. There was a shortage of fresh milk in the country, but there was a lot of condensed milk. Therefore, sweets made from condensed milk, cocoa and butter quickly won the love of the country’s inhabitants.
Today brigadeiro is sold in shops or specialized boutiques, where the choice of fillings, flavors and toppings is numbered in dozens.
Causinho is the next most popular variation of Brazilian sweets made from condensed milk. As in the case of brigadeiro, sweet milk, cocoa powder, sugar, butter are mixed in the process of their preparation. The candies are formed in the form of pyramids and inserted into the cashew nut. This is where the name of the dessert comes from, because caju is translated from Portuguese as “cashew”.
Bomb de noses
If you take a recipe for brigadeiro sweets as a basis and put a walnut inside, you get a new kind of sweets. This time the bomb de noses. Sweets are often prepared at home on their own, presented to guests and must be placed on the festive table.
The dessert has Peruvian roots and has been known since the middle of the 19th century. It is prepared in several stages. Salted cream is made from yolks, condensed and concentrated milk. A port-based syrup is prepared and added to the meringue. Spread a layer of meringue on top of the cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. The finished dessert is unusually soft, sweet and a little heady.
When buying shrimp stew in Brazil, you should be interested in the composition. Behind this universal name may be hiding mokeca in coconut milk, and spicy watapa stew, and karuru garlic soup.
Popular Brazil drinks
For a hot tropical country, drinks are just as important as food. Their main task is to cool and invigorate. In Brazil, lemonades or tonics are not common; every traditional drink is appreciated here.
Mate tea and coffee are the most popular drinks in Brazil.
The drink of the gods, the pipe of peace, the green gold of the Indians – all these epithets are dedicated to mate tea. The raw material for this beautiful emerald drink is the native Paraguayan holly plant. Its leaves are dried, crushed and then used for tea. Mate combines the invigorating power of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoric feeling of chocolate. For this it is often called “three in one”. They drink mate hot and cold.
Guarana is a highly carbonated soft drink made from berries of the same name. The plant’s high caffeine content has made it a popular energy drink. Therefore, it is drunk not only in its pure form, but also added to alcoholic cocktails. Several brands are registered in Brazil producing this drink. One belongs to the Coca-Cola Company.
Brazilian coffee is the main symbol of the country for the whole world. Dozens of varieties are grown on the plantations. The most imported are Santos, Minos, Bourbon.
In Brazil itself, coffee is so popular that the word itself has become a household word. They are used to designate meals such as morning coffee, afternoon coffee, coffee and bread.
Unlike Europe, the drink is drunk here without milk and cream, but with a lot of sugar. A small portion of freshly brewed black coffee is called a caffeinated coffee. Its taste is different from the espresso familiar to the whole world.
Caipirinha is a visiting card of Brazil in all bar charts of the world. The refreshing cocktail reflects the character of this country. It’s simple, quick to prepare, and flavorful. According to the classic recipe, it is customary to mix cane vodka cachasa, sugar syrup, lime juice and a large amount of ice. The beach bars offer a wide variety of cocktails, such as strawberry, pineapple and nut syrup.
Kashasa is the most affordable and famous alcoholic beverage in the country after beer. It is made from fermented cane sugar juice. After distillation, alcohol is immediately bottled or first aged in oak barrels for some time. By analogy with rum or tequila, there is a distinction between the white variety of cashasa without aging and the golden aged drink. Pinga, caninya, marvada are varieties of Kashasa with different aging periods. The drink is consumed both in pure form and as part of cocktails.
Other Brazilian dishes
Among the dishes of this country also deserve attention:
- guazado de tartaruga – roast turtle meat and entrails, served on the shell;
- zhakare – a dish of fried or stewed pieces of crocodile meat;
- pato no tukupi – duck stew in a thick hot sauce;
- karne demol – salted meat dried under the scorching sun;
- Cassava – Roasted cassava roots serve as a beer snack and a local alternative to French fries.
What is not in Brazil
Partly because of the geographical and climatic features, partly because of the local mentality in Brazil, it will not be possible to find fermented milk products, even sour cream or cottage cheese. Mushrooms on sale can only be found in the form of canned food. Of cereals, only rice is known here. Black leaf tea is also rare.
In the original, Brazilian cuisine recipes are difficult to replicate outside of it. Many unique ingredients are found only here. Borrowed European dishes are the easiest to reproduce.
Brazilian steak picana
Picanya is an alternative cut of beef. Its second name is the sacrum. A few simple rules will help you cook a steak as good as in a steakhouse.
Picanya is one of the most delicious Brazilian meat dishes.
To prepare two servings, you will need:
- beef piquant cut – 600 g;
- garlic – 2 cloves;
- lemon juice – 20 g;
- salt and black pepper to taste.
Prepare the grill pan, olive oil and proceed:
- Chop the garlic finely and combine with salt and black pepper.
- Spread the resulting garlic paste over the piece of meat. Then pour over lemon juice and leave to marinate for 2 hours.
- Blot the marinated meat with a paper towel and brush with olive oil.
- Fry a piece in a hot skillet for 5 minutes on each side.
After the meat has “rest” in the air for 10 minutes, it can be cut into wide pieces. For a side dish, fry your favorite vegetables in the same oil and complement the dish with spicy tomato sauce.
Pao di kejo - homemade Brazilian tapioca bread. You can replace it with plain flour or rice.
To bake bread you will need:
- olive oil – 150 g;
- water – 100 g;
- milk – 100 g;
- flour – 320 g;
- Parmesan cheese – 120 g;
- eggs – 2 pcs.;
- grated garlic – 2 tsp;
- salt to taste.
Prepare a large saucepan and move on to making your bread:
- Stir in olive oil, water, milk and salt. Place the saucepan over the fire and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Stir in flour and garlic. Then let the liquid cool down to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 200 ° C.
- Grate the cheese on a fine grater and beat the eggs.
- Add cheese and eggs to the saucepan. Mix everything thoroughly.
- Form the dough into balls and place on a baking sheet. Don’t forget to cover it with parchment.
- Bake the bread for 20 minutes. A ruddy crust is a sign of readiness.
Spicy, aromatic bread serves as a complement to a main meal or as a stand-alone snack.
Travel advice in Brazil is the same as in any exotic country. Unfamiliar food can spoil your holiday unpleasantly.
- Try to find out the recipe in advance and do not try unfamiliar products.
- Get ready for spicy and pungent food.
- Always carry clean water with you.
- When visiting cafes and restaurants, give preference to points in tourist locations.
These simple rules will help you avoid poisoning, indigestion and other more serious consequences.