Eat your way through Brazil: Seven Brazilian dishes you should try
Brazilian dishes are a unique mixture of European, African and native Latin American influences, Brazilian dishes stand out for their flavor and color. Each region of the country has its own distinctive dishes and ingredients. Tropical fruits, all kinds of seafoods, beans, meat and cassava are the staples in Brazilian gastronomy-with Feijoãda, a black bean stew, as its national dish.
If you’re planning a trip to this fascinating country―the largest in South America― here’s our selection of the best Brazilian dishes you should try. And check our variety of Brazil tours here.
Introduced by the first Portuguese colonizers in Brazil, ‘bacalhau’ has become a key ingredient in the Brazilian cuisine. However, it’s not the fresh fish you could expect from a country with such a large coastline, but a dried and salted version. Used in the past as a way of preserving the fish for a long time, salted-cod needs to be soaked at least one day in advance before preparing a meal.
One of the most common ways to serve it is bacalhau a gomes de sá, a casserole recipe made of cod, potatoes and caramelized onions, garnished with eggs and black olives. This is a very typical Easter dish, although it’s eaten all throughout the year.
Other famous bacalhau dish are bolinhos de bacalhau, small fritters also stuffed with codfish, potatoes and onions, usually eaten as an appetizer.
Despite its Portuguese roots, feijoada is considered Brazil’s national dish and it’s especially iconic in Rio de Janeiro. This savory slow-cooked black bean stew is prepared with different beef and pork products (dried meat, bacon, pork ribs, smoked sausage) and usually served with rice, ‘farofa’ (fried cassava flour) and orange slices, these last ones intended to aid the digestion of this hearty meal. You can find different regional versions of feijoada. Sunday feijoada is an authentic cultural tradition in Brazil. However, keep in mind it’s a very heavy dish…so you’d better save some time for a nap after eating it!
Brazil and Argentina race for the podium for the best meat in South America. However, each country has a different cooking styles and types of meat cuts. We’ve already talked about Argentinian ‘asados’, so here’s something on Brazilian style barbecues (known as churrascos): while their premium meat cut is the picanha (top sirloin), a typical barbecue at a local churrascaría (an all-you-can-eat restaurant) includes many varieties of meats cooked on skewers and sliced off right into your plate. Feast until you are full and don’t forget to add a refreshing caipirinha!
A tasty stew made of fish or seafood (shrimps, crabs), along with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and garlic. There are two variants of this dish: moqueca bahiana, original from the state of Bahia (where the stew is prepared with a twist of coconut milk and palm oil), and moqueca capixaba, from the state of Espírito Santo. It’s commonly served with rice and farofa.
If you’re heading to a Brazilian beach town, don’t hesitate: order a moqueca and enjoy an authentic local seafood experience.
This is a typical Afro-Brazilian dish from the region of Bahía. It consists of a mixture of shrimp, bread, onions, coconut milk, peanuts or cashews, ginger and palm oil. It has a creamy texture as a result of a slow-cook to prevent the coconut milk from burning. A unique mix of ingredients for a tropical flavored dish, usually served with rice.
Pato No Cucupí
A very traditional dish from northern Brazil, especially famous in Belem, a city at the entrance of the Amazonas. It’s a duck stew cooked in a yellow broth extracted from cassava roots (tucupí), with basil, garlic and jambu herb. As many other Brazilian food, it’s commonly served with rice and cassava flour.
Here’s one of the most traditional desserts in Brazil, made of three basic ingredients: egg yolks (many, many of them), sugar and coconut. A blend of Portuguese and African cuisine, this intense yellow custard can be served either in cupcake-size molds or in a ring shape and cut into slices called quindão. Get ready for a shot of intense sweetness!