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Brazilian Food?

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In a couple of weeks my wife and I are having people over for dinner and we're supposed to do a Brazilian theme. Apparently it was a tradition in college to spin a globe, land on a random country, and cook food from said country. They're re-instituting the tradition and Brazil came up first.

I've never been to Brazil and I honestly don't know what the heck they eat down there. Can anyone give me any guidance on recipes? I've been to a few Brazilian BBQ restaurants, but I don't think I can cook that much meat!

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  1. I can't give you recipes - you'll need to google them, I suppose - but typical dinners at the home of a Brazilian friend of ours include:

    - feijoada (black bean stew filled with various pieces of pork and sausage - like a Brazilian version of cassoulet - it's kind of like the national dish)
    - farofa (manioc flour, pan roasted with tiny bits of onion and other vegetables, sometimes with very little bits of bacon - very dry - it soaks up the juices of whatever else you're having)
    - salt cod in some form or another - after the initial prep (soaking, rinsing, soaking again - our friend sometimes flakes the fish into pieces, layers it with thinly-sliced potatoes and onions and cooks it in the oven in - I don't know - maybe chicken broth?
    - I don't know if it's typically Brazilian or just our friend's preference, but she's not big on big desserts. Her favorite is sliced oranges and their zest in a bowl of orange liquor. Sometimes served alone, sometimes it accompanies simple vanilla ice cream.

    1. Ditto on Deenso's suggestions, especially the feijoada. I've seen people use the farofa more as a condiment.
      Another typically famous dish is vatapa, a fish/coconut soup.
      I'd say capyberra, but that may be difficult to get in North America...

      Just a suggestion, maybe round up some brazillian beer or get a bottle of cachaca and make caipirinhas with lime, sugar, and ice.

      1. Deesno's suggestions are good. Feijoada is the national dish served on Saturdays in Restaurants. Farofa - I usually make it with come egg, some bacon, some onion. It is used to sprinkle on top of food like feijoada or rice and beans.( My DIL is from Rio and best friends live in San Paulo). Flan is a typical dessert; also passionfruit mousse.
        There is a very good Feijoida recipe in the New American Basics Cookbook called carnival Feijoida. I have made it and it is very good. I will look at my Brazilian cookbook and consult with my DIL and see if I can come up with any other ideas.
        Oh and caiparinhas are a must for alcoholic drinks- limes muddled with sugar and cashasa mixed in. Very delicious.

        1 Reply
        1. re: emilief

          if you can get hold of dende oil, Moqueca is a great spicy dish from Bahia, (usually made with seafood), involving coconut milk..


        2. Brazilian food involves canned corn and bad pizza.

          Seriously though, while the signature dish is feijoada a good version involves a lot of effort which is why it is often just a weekend dish. Also authenticity would require pig parts like ears. Here's an American-friendly ... North American ... version from Chow recipes

          I’d take one or two approaches,



          Bolineo de bacalhau - Cod Fish Croquette


          Black bean soup


          Green salad with hearts of palm


          Main course

          Moranga – A squash stuffed with seafood. Here are some photos


          Served with Rice, black beans, farofa (with bacon … throw some bacon in those beans too)

          Condiment dishes of different colored pimento, tiny Brazilian peppers. I think this is what keeps Brazilians from dying from all that fried food, meat and palm oil. More about them


          Pudim de coco - Coconut Flan


          Passion fruit Mousse

          Coffee using Brazilian beans

          Brazilian black beer
          Caipirinhas - cachaça cocktail … or you could have a straight cachaça tasting … though finding quality cachaça isn’t easy. A chow recipe

          If you don’t think people would go for cod fish I can suggest other appetizers. Another approach to take

          BRAZILIAN STREET SNACKS AND BBQ (not the rodizo type)

          Snacks – Salgadinhos

          There are tons of these, the most common being …

          coxinha (fried chicken croquettes), risoli (fried cheese croquettes) pao de queijo (cheese bread) and kibe (minted beef croquettes).


          Have some green salad and toppings like hearts of palm and canned corn to top the greens.

          Grilled meats

          Pull out your little BBQ grill to make Brazilian kebabs, Brazilian hot dogs and Brazilian (X-Tudo … sort of sounds like cheese tudo)

          Of course you must have as sides of Rice, black beans, farofa

          Brazilian kebabs or meat skewers (espetinhos) are like any other beef or chicken kabobs, a little different marinade.

          No kidding about Brazilians liking canned corn. The hot dogs are topped with potao sticks, corn kernels and hot sauce.

          The X-tudo is a deadly thing of beauty … starting with the humble hamburger patty and topped with bacon, hot dog, corn, peas, pineapple, fried egg, melted, potato sticks, cheese, lettuce, onions, and tomato … seriously. A local blogger on the Brazilian burger with photo.

          This site has some great pictures of many of the snacks, kebabs, hot dogs and xtudo … and a bunch of other ideas.

          Another snack site


          Sweet Brazilian dessert pizza

          Topped with things like cheese, white chocolate, raisins, peaches, plums, and condensed milk

          Brazilian black beer
          Boxed Brazilian juices … acai is pretty popular these days anywhere
          Canned Brazilian sodas (which I’m not a fan of)
          Or you can make smoothies out of Brazilian juices. Here’s my post about the snacks and smoothies at a local snack shop

          This doesn’t have to be complicated. Looking at your Chow profile (My Chow) it seems you are either from Boston or Manhattan. If it is Boston, there are TONS of Brazilian bakeries (especially around Framingham) where you can pick up snack foods and pastries. If in Manhattan, that link above with the hot dogs and snacks is located in Palisades, NJ and I think there are a bunch of Brazilian bakeries in one or more of the bouroughs.

          BTW, I’m not Brazilian and have never been to Brazil. It is just that the local Brazilian population in the SF Bay Area has been expanding and I just got interested in trying out everything new that opened. So I could be just blowing steam here.

          I've referenced this wiki article from time to time.

          1. If you live in the Boston area there are many portugese bakeries in Framingham and Cambridge where you can order slhingados for appetizers. Also, for moqueca- (sp?) there is a restaurant called that in Cambridge that makes the traditional moquieca- a fish stew- you could probably have them make it for you. Also, if you have access to a Brazilian grocer you want to have guarana on hand (Brazilian soft drink sort of like coke).

            1 Reply
            1. re: emilief

              Guarana is amazing.. got addicted to the stuff in Brazil.

            2. Pao de queijo (cheese bread) is really easy to make, and everyone seems to love it. It's unleavened - you just mix up tapioca flour, butter, parmesan cheese, milk, salt and eggs and that's pretty much it. The balls of dough puff up in the oven. You can find tapioca flour at stores like Whole Foods. Another Brazilian dish that i like a lot that was mentioned above is moqueca - the fish stew with coconut milk. It's also a crowd pleaser, and easy to make.

              Good luck!


              1. http://www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com/bi...
                my favorite brazilian restaurant in NY's takeout menu. disregard teh circled items. i really like the shrimp dishes, you can approximate based on google searches.

                1. Trivia: I was an exchange student in Paraguay many years ago. Our senior class trip was to Brazil. In Paraguay, people don't eat corn, it's considered animal food, but on the beach in Rio, everybody ate corn on the cob.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lgss

                    This is patently false. My family is from Paraguay, where I am currently living and doing research related to food and agriculture. Besides mandioca (casava/yuca), corn is the main staple of the Paraguayan diet. There are varieties of corn that are grown only for animal feed (like a lot of field corn in the U.S.), but there are other varieties that are ground into corn meal for an assortment of traditional dishes, dried and eaten whole as locro (pozole/hominy), or popped into pop corn. When certain varieties are harvested in the 'sweet corn' phase, they are called 'choclo' and boiled whole as corn on the cob, or degrained and used in a corn-bread-soufle dish called chipa guazú, in salads, or other ways. We eat corn nearly every day. Perhaps the confusion was that sweetcorn is called 'choclo' not 'maiz'?

                  2. To be honest, a Brazilian party is as much attitude as the food. To get an idea what Brazilians think of American style parties, a "festa americana" is one where the host charges everyone attending to recover the costs of the food (this isn't necessarily a slur, its seen as fun -- an excuse to buy something special, a bunch of drinks, and just come with the clothes on your back). They also make fun of Americans sitting down at parties, having more formal dinners. With the food, its not uncommon to say "women bring a dish" (or help make it) and "men drinks" so you could even do an American potluck with latin american ingredients. But the important thing is to talk loud, play lots of music, dance... and the food often contributes to that by being informal.

                    I think ordering salgadinhos, sold in bite sized pieces by the hundred, and making a simple plate with rice is an ideal approach and leaving your guests to serve themselves. Here in the Boston area salgadinhos are around $40/100 (some people do them for $35, some bakeries charge $45), dunno about NYC but that is easy enough to find out on the board. Many Brazilian markets have frozen pao de queijo which are easy to bake and buy several bags. Two dishes which are easy to serve with rice are Bobo de Camarao (yuca/shrimp stew with coconut milk) and vaca atolada (beef ribs stewed with yucca). The former you will find recipes on the internet (maria-brazil.org has a Bahian one, but basically make it w/o dende, some paprika or achiote and maybe less tomatoes for a capixaba version). Bobo is easier to get right on the first try.

                    Vaca Atolada (cow stuck in the mud) is cooked in two steps. You make a garlic paste with salt in a mortar, smear it over the ribs and optionally use half a lime's juice. Brown the ribs w/o burning the garlic too much, add some green pepper, and hot pepper if you want (which can also go in the mortar), when the green peper is limp add tomatoes (not an excessive amt), paprika, green onions, and cilantro. You can add bay leaves if you like. Once its fried for a few minutes, add water or thin stock to cover, bring to a boil (if necessary remove excess foam), then simmer it loosely covered until the meat has shrunk a lot but is still firm (edible at this point, but not falling apart). Add water as necessary so it doesn't dry out, but too much will affect the end result. Then add yucca in a quantity of about 1/2 the amount of broth and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or less until the yucca is soft and thickening the broth by melting away. The beef should be tender and possibly off the bone, but not falling in pieces (avoid leaving too long in too much lime juice and salt). White rice is cooked with lots of garlic and salt, fried together with the rice in sufficient oil, then you add boiling water as you like (I use less than two times).

                    Moqueca's are great and do not need dende oil to make them (make a moqueca capixaba), but they require nice fish and it has to be bone-in -- hake will do, but really nice striped bass steaks make it special. To do it right its going to be expensive. Feijoada is a wonderful idea, but it can be heavy at a party, you really should use the variety cuts to make it traditional -- yes snouts, ears, tails, as well as salted ribs, dried (smoked) sausages, and other special ingredients to make it even better which take time to gather and it gets expensive.

                    If you want a "Brazilian Dinner" like someone would eat every night, that is also not that hard. Make beans in a pressure cooker with bay leaves, season them with at least garlic and onion pre-fried, if possible some pork. Make white rice. Then fry thin sliced steaks (like you can get at any latino oriented market), pre-seasoned if you like, seasoned with fresh garlic and salt, or seasoned with tempero completo (brazilian) or sazon from goya. Fry the steaks quickly and throw some sliced onions. Serve everything with a fried egg and or farofa if you want. Simple vegetables if desired like the couve/collards mentioned or something like squash or zuchinni slightly stewed and seasoned with garlic, cilantro, a bit of lime as desired.

                    Mousse de Maracuja (passion fruit mousse) as mentioned is really easy to make as a dessert (see maria-brazil). You can also buy desserts at Brazilian bakeries. Simple things with fruit (blending a papaya with sugar and cream, then serving with cassis) are good. Spend more time having fun than on the food.

                    A Churrasco is also really common for parties, but depends on your living situation. If you are in an apartment, you need to be a hard core Brazilian to spend the night cooking meat and sausage over an electric grill. If you have a house and backyard its easy. Communal churrasco is done one steak at a time, often just seasoned with brazilian coarse salt or bought pre-seasoned, then cut up and served offering everybody slices (toothpicks are good here). Brazilian Chicken and pork/beef sausage too (fresh chorizo can be substituted, kielbasa is often served) -- grilled and cut up. Wings or chicken hearts are common, you can buy these pre-seasoned at Brazilian butchers. A Brazilian butcher can help getting the right cuts (top sirloin butt is usually cut here into steaks of "alcatra c/picanha," you tell the butcher how much fat you want to keep -- keep some and how thick to make the steaks), but you can also go freestyle with flap meat, skirt steak, etc. Most Brazilians eat meat well done. Rice, beans, and salad for when people get tired of meat. Kebabs "churrasquinho" are even easier, but you need to marinade them and its good to have some farofa to roll them in.

                    A few notes about earlier posts. Chowhound seems to perpetually mention pineapple on a X-Tudo, which I have never had in Brazil or in Boston. Brazilians in general don't like things they define as "sweet" with meat (corn and ketchup are ok), that would be one. Not saying it doesn't exist, but its just not a common ingredient. X-tudo burgers are generally flat patties, griddled, so keep that in mind. And Brazilian hot dogs usually cooked in a sauce and served with some of that "caldo," along with the things mentioned, not necessarily grilled.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: itaunas

                      Wow, great post. I'm trying to learn about Brazilian food though the language can cause a barrier at times ... though at this point ... today I volunteered to help a shopper at Safeway who only spoke Portuguese.

                      Anyway, how are those bottles of pimentos used. Are they just added to plain rice and beans?

                      Funny comment about steak. I noticed Brazilian steak is often on the very well-cooked and solid side.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Brazilians have varying levels of taste for spicy foods, many don't like hot peppers and some even black pepper. The most common way to use the pimentas is to poke a hole in the plastic undercap and whoever likes it spicy, puts some drops on their food. You can refill it with vinegar or oil a few times and it will maintain the flavor. Baianas make malagueta sauces and serve them with acaraje.

                        For cooking, if you want the meat itself spicier add them to the mortar as part of the olive paste. Dropping a couple of malaguetas at least into stewed food is great. Also look out for other types of peppers pimenta de bode, pimenta de cheiro, cumari (bode the most round, the others part round often with a point) are some which have really nice flavor. You can also get large bottles with various types of peppers. The imports don't compare to the fresh thing and you can get seeds for Brazilian peppers here, but I have never tried growing them.

                    2. My favorite vegetable dish is manisoba--cassava (yuca) leaves cooked for 24 hours or so--and best in Belem. Farofa is generally not cooked with anything, but eaten as a topping on a lot of things. It is not toasted flour, but dried, ground, toasted cassava tuber. Someone mentioned capybara--it is available in the western Amazon and in the Pantanal--delicious. Brazilians eat a lot of fruit! Picanyha is a fave cut of beef--from the butt end above the tail. A good feijoada involves several different black bean pots and several odd meat bits pots.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        There are toasted and seasoned farofas sold in supermarkets both in Brazil and Brazilian markets here in the US (yoki is one brand distributed here), sometimes even with the word "ready." In "farinha de mandioca" there is both toasted and raw versions (branca). There also are corn flours (almost like corn flakes, but w/o malts and sugars), farinho de milho which can be used -- both for farofa, but also to thicken soup. The branca is better for most farofas and always for pirao, but the advantage of the toasted flour is you can give it a few seasonings and use to roll kebabs. From what I understand there is a slight difference between the yucca that we eat and the mandioca which is used to make flour, which can be poisonous if prepared in the wrong way... Its something interesting I want to learn more about, but there can be big differences between similar tubers/nightshades.

                        Here in the US Picanha is available, if you get a butcher to cut if from a Top Sirloin Butt packers cut. However, you usually have to buy the whole piece of picanha and its priced such that they cover the Alcatra which will then be used for making kebabs. Its hard to find a whole picanha for less than $35 and the whole picanha+alcatra is $40-50 at the right butcher (about $2.59 a lb wholesale prices, maybe 12 lbs). Brazilian butchers sell steaks cut from the primal cut, which is basically Picanha+Alcatra and is usually the easiest way to go as you can buy the quantity you need. Its not something you would do in Brazil, but here in the US the Brazilian butchers compete on price for this cut.

                        Frozen fruit pulps are available in a lot of Brazilian butchers and stores. Now is a good time to buy because they received the 2008 (US spring) harvest fruits in early July so its still reasonably fresh. There also green coconuts for agua de coco and a lot of things if you look hard enough (most that I have found recently are pretty brown).