My last post concentrated on desserts only, but seeing as this is the cuisine of the year, it is only proper to do a post on some of the main dishes served as well.
I will admit that I have only ever been to one Brazilian restaurant and the visit involved a lot of grilled meat or churrasco, which was delicious but just a little of what the country has to offer. The country is rich with a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and root tubers. I’ve found that a lot of the food is similar to what I grew up eating in Nigeria. The fruits are the same – bananas, mangoes, oranges, cashews – as are a lot of the other produce like yams, cassava, and okra. Of course, not everything is the same and the cooking methods vary.
In general, though, Brazilian cuisine is very diverse and different regions of the country are known for serving different dishes influenced by the origins of the particular place. I’ve compiled a short list of dishes with at least one representing a different region.
1. Feijoada: The national dish of Brazil. It is a thick stew made of beans (usually black) and a variety of salted pork and/or beef products. It is usually served with kale, orange salad, ground manioc (cassava or yucca), or rice. (photo: simplyrecipes.com)
2. Vatapa: This comes from the Northeastern region of Brazil in places like Bahia where this is referred to as the state’s (Bahia) dish. It is a seafood stew made with coconut milk, bread, shrimp, ground peanuts, palm oil, red pepper, ginger, and onions. Cashew nuts can be substituted for peanuts, and chicken or any other kind of meat for shrimp. (There are actually two kinds of this dish although one is a more homogenous paste used as a filling for acaraje).
3. Tacaca: Tacaca is a popular soup considered the signature dish of Para in Brazil’s Northern region. It is made of jambu (para cress), dried shrimp, and a yellow broth called tucupi which comes from the root of the manioc plant. It more of a snack than a meal itself and is a popular street food. (photo: victornobre65.blogspot.com)
4. Frango com quiabo: In addition to feijoada, Brazil’s Southeastern region (including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais) is known for this stewed chicken and okra dish. The okra is fried separately and added at to the chicken at the end so that it doesn’t retain the slimy quality. It is usually served with angu (polenta) or rice.
This dish is from the Southern region of Brazil where you can find Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. It literally translates to ‘cart driver’s rice’ and was developed by oxcart drivers who would transport goods across southern Brazil. It is made primarily of dried meat (mostly beef), rice, onions, tomatoes and spices. (Photo: brazilianfoodie.com)
6. Special mention goes to Acaraje for its similarities to a Nigerian snack called akara. Both involve the use of black-eyed beans, ground into a paste and fried in balls. Nigerian recipes tend to use onions and sometimes hot peppers cut up and fried into the akara. The Brazilian version, though, can also involve stuffing it with a variety of things including vatapa or caruru – a paste made with shrimp, okra, onion, palm oil, and toasted nuts. (Photo: travelblog.org)