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Brazil Food - The Delicious Brazilian Cuisine

Brazilian food including feijoada, farinha de mandioca, fried macaxeira and white rice.
Image by asimojet/DepositPhotos

Brazilian cuisine varies tremendously by region. Culture and crops grown in each region affect the local cooking style. It is a mixture of native cooking and cooking styles brought to Brazil by immigrants from around the world. Early Portuguese settlers and African slaves heavily influenced the food of Brazil. In this article, you will find only a small sampling of the many different flavors you willl encounter if you travel to Brazil.

Typical Brazilian Meal

Though differing considerably by region, most meals share some similar features. Rice and beans (arroz e feijão) are staple foods of Brazil. They are usually cooked with garlic and onions. Bay leaves, cilantro and other spices are added to the beans.

Tender grilled meats are the centerpiece of the meal: chicken, beef, or pork. They are slow-roasted over an open fire on a spit. A salad and/or sautéed or steamed vegetables are served on the side. These most often include beets, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, or kale.

The drink of choice is usually juice made from fresh fruit. There is a large variety to choose from. Other options include water and soft drinks. For dessert, fresh or preserved fruit is served, sometimes with pudding or quindim (similar to flan). The meal is topped off with a strong shot of delicious Brazilian coffee.

Southeastern Brazil

Cuisine in this region is heavily influenced by Italian and German immigrants. Leafy vegetables and wine are often found in this region's foods. Some basic staple foods are chicken, pork and corn.

Here are a few specialties of this region:

  • Queijo de coalho - a firm, lightweight cheese browned over charcoal and flavored with garlic and oregano sauces.
  • Frango com quiabo - chicken with okra
  • Banana frita - fried bananas
  • Pizza
  • Lasagna and other pastas
  • Sushi

Northern Brazil

Food in this region is a mixture of native Indian and Portuguese cooking. Fish, peanuts, manioc (a root vegetable), some beef, and many tropical fruits are commonly eaten.

Typical dishes include:

  • Pato no tucupi - Duck with tucupi. Tucupi is an extract from manioc root.
  • Caruru  - Okra, dried shrimp, chicory and alfavaca (native plants), onions, palm oil, and toasted nuts. It's used as a condiment.
  • Tacacá - Soup made of fried shrimp, yellow pepper, tucupi, and jambú (a native herb)

Bahia & the Northeast

Brazilian restaurants located outside the country usually offer foods from the Bahia region in Northeast Brazil. Meals from this region are the most exotic of any throughout the country.

Many of the dishes made in this region contain three ingredients: dende oil (a type of palm oil, reddish-orange in color), coconut milk, and spicy malagueta peppers.

Moqueca is a traditional seafood stew. Brazilians have made Moquecas for 300 years. Fish, garlic, onions, cilantro, and tomatoes are blended with a base of coconut milk and other ingredients. The dish is easy to make, and you can adjust seasonings to fit your taste.

Acarjé is perhaps the most popular food of the region and is available from many street vendors of Bahia. These are succulent black-eyed pea and shrimp fritters stuffed with shrimp and caramelized onions.

Acaraje is a favorite food of Bahia in Brazil

Recipe: Acarjé

Ingredients:

Filling:

o 1 onion
o 1 cup small shrimp, shelled and de-veined
o 2 tablespoons palm oil

Fritters:

o 2 cans black-eyed peas
o 1 onion
o 1 clove of garlic
o 1 red chili pepper
o Salt and pepper to taste
o Palm oil for frying

Preparation:

1. Prepare filling: Slice onion very thinly. Cook onions in a skillet with palm oil on low heat until they are caramelized (about 15 minutes). Add shrimp and sauté until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Make fritters: Drain the black-eyed peas and place them in a food processor. Chop the onion and garlic, and add to the peas.

3. Remove seeds from the pepper and add to the mixture in the food processor.

4. Blend mixture well. Salt and pepper to fit your taste.

5. Add flour until mixture is stiff. Separate into 15 pieces and form into balls.

6. Heat 2 inches palm oil in a pot on medium high. Fry several fritters at once until brown, turning once (about 5 minutes). Drain fritters on paper towels. Keep warm in an oven at 200 degrees.

7. Split fritters. Fill with onion and shrimp mixture and serve warm.

As you can see, there is a wide diversity of Brazilian foods. As with any large country, the cuisine varies from one region to the next. One thing is certain. You are sure to enjoy the food and want to visit Brazil. Be aware, you'll need a Brazilian visa to enter the country and you'll definitly want to plan your Brazil tours ahead of time so that you get to do and see all that you want.

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