Aside from all the Samba and Carnaval, Brazil is also known for having some seriously delicious dishes. The culinary in Brazil is pretty varied, and you’ll find many different dishes and versions of the same dish around the country’s five regions (click here if you want to know more about Brazil’s geography).
Dishes like Feijoada, Moqueca, and Baião de Dois; and also delicacies like Brigadeiro, Quindim and Pudim de Leite are staples all over the country, and you’ll probably have a hard time finding a Brazilian who doesn’t like at least half of the aforementioned dishes.
So in this post, we’re going over the most famous Brazilian foods and dishes, give you a little bit of info on them, and also provide you with the recipe for some of them, so you can try to get a taste of the Brazilian flavor before arriving in the country!
Not only is Feijoada the most popular dish in Rio de Janeiro, but it is also amongst the best-known typical Brazilian dishes all around the world. Basically, Feijoada consists of a mixture of cooked black beans, with less noble parts of the pork, such as the ear, tail, in addition to sausage and jerky.
It is usually accompanied by cabbage, rice, and farofa (which is cassava flour fried on butter with onions). It is believed that feijoada was invented by slaves, who made their food with foods that were despised by their masters, which explains the fact why to this day, the meats used are not noble.
Feijoadas are commonly shared with a lot of people, so it is very traditional that you’ll invite friends and family for lunch if you’re making feijoada. In Rio de Janeiro, you’ll find Samba events all over town that serve Feijoada, many Samba Schools notoriously have Feijoadas open to the public in which you pay a small fee to eat, drink and enjoy the Samba marching band, it is a fantastic experience.
2. Carne de Sol
Carne de sol is nothing more than a piece of outside or topsite flat, prepared according to the Northeastern tradition. In English, its name translates to “Sun Meat”, mainly because in the past, the meat was salted and hung in the sun to dry, so the seasoning process began.
Nowadays, the meat is no longer exposed to the sun, and the seasoning is done in a refrigerated environment, so as not to overdry the meat, which in this case would turn it into dried meat. This dish is usually served with fried cassava, curd cheese, and green beans.
Paçoca de Carne de Sol
Although not exactly famous all over the country, the Carne de Sol also is prepared differently in Piauí. The Paçoca de Carne de Sol is made of flour, dried meat (crushed in a mortar) cilantro, and a few pieces of banana to give it a little Brazilian touch.
Acarajé is a typical dish from Bahia (Northeast of Brazil), very common in street markets and city fairs. It is another example of a typical Brazilian food that also takes from the African heritage that Brazil has, turning an unfair and violent past into delicious food.
Basically, Acarajé is a black-eyed bean dumpling, fried in palm oil and stuffed with vatapá (another typical dish from Bahia which we’ll take a closer look at later in this piece), dried shrimp and sauce, in addition to pepper. If you’re not used to strong pepper, you must be very careful, because in Bahia a spicy dish means it is really spicy.
When asked whether you want the acarajé hot or cold, be aware that “hot” means peppery and not the temperature of the recipe. So If you’re not used to it, definitely go with the cold Acarajé!
Empadão is a very common and popular salt pie, considered a great typical dish of the state of Goiás. Although the main recipe for the dough is the same, there are varied fillings and stuffings, which makes it pretty versatile. But the most famous one definitely is the shredded chicken empadão, yum!
This regional dish is well known everywhere in Brazil and is in the process of being recognized as a Product of Intangible Nature by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN). This is a very common dish to find in any restaurant and even in bars in a smaller form called “empadinhas” (which is the diminutive of empadão).]
The açaí (pronounced asa-hi) is a Brazilian berry that we have previously seen in this post regarding the fruits of Brazil, and it is definitely another famous dish in the country. Traditionally found at the North of the country, açaí berries are sought out all around the country, so you’ll most likely find street vendors, kyosks, and stores dedicated to this.
In most of Brazil, the berries are blended with guaraná (another famous local fruit), banana, and strawberry, in addition to being mixed with several optional ingredients like granola, ice cream syrup, sprinkles, jelly beans, among many other things.
But, originally, the açaí is had as a side dish, usually served with fried fish and shrimp, mixed with cassava flour. In one way or another, it is a very nutritional and healthy dish, containing various vitamins, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
While on the subject of famous foods from the North of Brazil, Maniçoba is the main typical food in the state of Pará and has an indigenous origin. Its main ingredient is pork, manioc, and crushed cassava leaves. While this dish isn’t exactly famous all around the country, it is had as the equivalent of feijoada in the North, which means it is a very big deal over there!
A curious fact about the maniçoba is that this dish needs to start being prepared a week prior, as the cassava leaves have a toxic component to us humans, and need to be cooked for a long time in order for us to be able to eat it without getting sick.
7. Tainha na Taquara
The grey mullet is a typically Brazilian fish that can be found in other regions of the South American continent as well. But this method of preparation is very specific to Rio Grande do Sul, South of Brazil. The dish consists of a grey mullet that is roasted on firewood, then placed between taquara bamboos, which is made like a skewer.
The fish is seasoned with garlic, oil, butter, chili pepper, and lemon. It is suggested that the dish be accompanied by white rice and a good dry white wine. I have tried this dish before and as a major fish enthusiast, I totally recommend you try this if you are traveling around the South of Brazil (take a look at this post for some tips!).
Barreado is the most traditional dish in the state of Paraná, also located at the South of Brazil. Its origin dates back to an Azorean ritual that is over 300 years old, which was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese who occupied the coast of Paraná in the 18th century. One of the strongest features of this dish is that if reheated it does not lose its flavor or its characteristics.
Traditionally, this recipe is made in a heavy earthenware pot, which is heated to a high temperature and kept that way for approximately 20 hours while cooking. This typical Brazilian dish mainly consists of one or more types of second-rate and lean beef, such as the knuckle, the breast or the shoulder clod, seasoned with garlic, onion, pork bacon, black pepper, bay leaf, cumin and then cooked until it melts.
Finally, it is mixed with cassava flour and served with rice and plantain.
9. Virado Paulista
Virado is a dish widely consumed in Brazil, but in São Paulo its preparation is different than in the rest of the country. In the traditional São Paulo menu, for example, this dish is usually served on Mondays, so be aware of that if you wish to try it while you’re in city.
Its preparation includes baked beans, sautéed in onions and garlic, and is served with steak, fried sausage, breaded and fried banana, an egg with a soft yolk, cabbage in strips, crispy crackling, and rice. Its a really full meal, perfect to start off the weak on the right foot!
10. Arroz com Pequi
The pequi is a native fruit of the Brazilian flora with a strong and peculiar flavor. It is considered the culinary jewel of the country’s Midwest, being the main ingredient for many traditional recipes in the region. One of them is the famous rice with pequi, which is widely consumed in the daily lives of local residents.
The Pequi fruit is very aromatic, caloric, and has a slightly sweet taste. So, if the bittersweet flavor isn’t your thing, this is a warning. However, it is still always worth trying new things, especially if you are traveling their region of origin. The dish basically consists of regular rice but cooked together with pequi. This gives the rice a yellow color, in addition to the very characteristic flavor and smell.
11. Caldo de Piranha (Piranha Broth)
Get the kids out of the room, we’re going NSFW! Well, not really, but this recipe has a reputation of spicing up relationships. The piranha broth is an Amazonian delicacy full of flavor and has a few curious facts around its preparation.
The natives of the Amazon basin region call the piranha broth the “viagra of the rivers” because they say it is a dish with very powerful aphrodisiac effects. Not only that, there are legends around the dish that even speak of miracles like curing a bad hangover after a night of heavy partying.
Well, I have never tried the piranha broth so I can’t attest to much of the statements regarding the miraculous and let’s say invigorating effects of the recipe, but I’ve heard of people who tried it say it is delicious. It has an intense fish flavor, with a spiciness coming from THE black pepper that sharpens the taste and is even better by adding cassava flour before eating.
12. Pudim de Leite
Now that we’ve seen so many delicious dishes, let’s talk dessert! The condensed milk pudding is one of the most loved desserts by Brazilians and my absolute favorite dessert. It consists of a mixture of condensed milk, eggs, and sugar basically, giving it a very creamy yet firm texture.
It is inspired by Portuguese candy recipes, but it has a simpler execution, which makes it faster and easier to make. This really is a staple in Brazilian culinary, so you’ll have no trouble finding it anywhere you go in the country.
It can be said that the brigadeiro is the most unanimous dessert in all of Brazil. There is no region where the brigadeiro is not present, whether on a child’s birthday or even at weddings. The brigadeiro has become a tradition on festive dates and it is a typical Brazilian candy, with no external interference.
It consists of a mixture of condensed milk, butter, cocoa powder, and granulated chocolate for frosting. It has that name because it was created with the intention of being served in events to raise funds for the candidacy of President Eduardo Gomes, who was a brigader (the highest rank in aeronautics).
With the success of the sweet, it ended up being known only as brigadeiro, which remains that way till this day.
The Cocada candy is made from fresh or dried coconut. It is originally an African candy but widely produced here in Brazil. It was brought and made famous by the slaves, who had more than enough ingredients, as many worked in sugar cane plantations. Its recipe was modified over time until it became the coconut candy as we know it today.
As you can see, typical Brazilian food is quite rich in aromas and flavors. There is no lack of an option to delight in Brazilian regional dishes. From acarajé to barbecue, from açaí to brigadeiro, from feijoada to barreado. There are several types of food and dishes that Brazil offers to anyone willing to immerse themselves in its culinary culture.
While you’re here, I think we might interest you with these:
Brazilian Birthday Party: Traditions, Food, Song, and more – Wanna know how a traditional Brazilian party works? We have all the details and more right here, take a look!
Tired Of BBQ? The 8 Places And Food To Eat In Rio (By A Local) – There are definitely some great steakhouses in Rio de Janeiro, but if you’re looking for something other than that, we got you covered with this post!
5 Great Places for Fishing in Brazil – If you’re a fan of fishing, you’re in luck! The Brazilian landscape makes for beautiful fishing trips, and we listed 5 of these great places for you to include in your itinerary!