One of my favourite things about traveling to a new country is uncovering new dishes and flavours that are often very different from what we are used to eating at home. Our trip to Brazil was no different.
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An interesting Brazilian food fact is that Brazilian dishes vary greatly by region and represent a mix of native Brazilian flavours/ingredients with imported dishes and flavours from European and Japanese immigrants. It makes for some unique Brazilian dishes that go so much further than the “rice and beans” that are sometimes considered a staple of Brazilian cuisine.
During our time in Brazil, we were food snobs, refusing to eat anything other than Brazilian food. We’ve been purposefully trying different dishes, often by simply pointing to a word on a menu, having no idea what to expect. Some have been amazing, some were pleasant surprises, others were just ok. So after lots of experimenting, it’s time to share our findings.
Here is the countdown of our top 10 favourite Brazilian dishes.
Literally translated as “little chicken thigh”, this is a popular Brazilian appetizer and a great example of some of the delicious Brazilian street food you can find almost anywhere at any time of day or night.
Coxinhas are made of chopped or shredded chicken meat fried in batter and then shaped into a ball or a shape that vaguely resembles a chicken thigh resulting in crunchy, filling Brazilian appetizers!
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9. Pão de Queijo
Another popular Brazilian food perfect for a tasty snack, these cheesy buns/balls are not meant to be deep fried but rather baked. But the deep fried variety of this Brazilian street food dish is what really stole my heart… cheesy goodness galore!
Want to sample these little delicacies and more Brazilian street food?
Then consider taking the Sao Paulo Food Tour! You’ll visit the key gastronomic sites of the city, including the municipal market to enjoy the eclectic flavours of Brazilian food. The tour lasts for 3 hours and with the multilingual guide, you’ll get all the insider info on the best places to eat the best Brazilian dishes!
A saltwater fish stew said to be cooked with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander and some palm oil and served with rice. It didn’t look amazing but tasted great!
The best place for this particular Brazilian food is in Salvador, in the North East of the country. Immerse yourself in the Afro-Brazilian culture of the region and take a Cooking Class with a Local.
You’ll visit the local seafood market to choose your own salt water fish and then work and chat together with the local family to help prepare the Moqueca for lunch. Not only will you get to experience one of the most popular Brazilian foods, but you’ll sample it homemade and learn how to make it yourself when you get back home!
Picanha is a type of Brazilian grill. It is steak cooked from a cut of meat popular in Brazil, that’s sometimes referred to as “rump cover”. It is the topmost layer of muscle over the sirloin/rump area, covered in a layer of thick fat.
There is nothing overly fancy about it, the meat is simply grilled with the fat on, giving it that juicy delicious flavour. Picanha is most often served with rice and beans.
6. Carne de Sol
Literally translated as “meat of the sun”. It’s a type of heavily salted beef, which is exposed to the sun for one or two days to cure. In our case, it was served with cheese, chorizo, and yuca.
5. Yuca fries
A typical side accompanying many Brazilian dishes is the yuca fries, also known as cassava fries of manioc fries. They are a South American substitute for French fries made out of the starchy root of the cassava/manioc plant. Yuca fries are not quite as crispy as potato fries and are a bit sweeter, slightly firmer and a bit stringier.
The term refers to Brazilian grill beef or more generally meat, but in Brazil, churrasco is simply a BBQ. We came across this great restaurant called Espetto Carioca, a Brazilian churrascaria, which basically means a restaurant which prepares food ‘churrasco’ style— food on skewers.
They had everything from various meats, to seafood, to vegetables, desserts, and items like a grilled banana with sugar and cinnamon.
Note: This picture doesn’t do it justice.
3. Mortadella Sandwich
The biggest sandwich I have ever seen in my life! This popular Brazilian food is particularly famous in São Paulo and is made with nearly half a pound of mortadella sausage, cheddar cheese, onion, and bacon on a loaf of bread. And it tasted DELICIOUS!
One of our favourite Brazilian dishes! Considered to be a National Dish in Brazil, Fejoada is a stew of beans with beef and pork served with rice and farofa (toasted manioc flour). It’s a delicious combination too sweet and salty, soft and crunchy.
If you are in Rio and want to try your hand at making the National dish yourself, then we recommend the Copacabana: 4-Hour Brazilian Cooking Class. It’s a unique way to learn about the culture and your favourite Brazilian dishes. Plus, you’ll also discover how to make the very yummy Caipirinha cocktails while you’re at it!
Brazilian food facts: traditionally Feijoada is made with every part of the pig, including the snout, the tail and the ears! It’s not as popular these days and the recipe is usually made without these items.
1. Linguiça Calabresa
Linguiça calabresa, a type of smoked pork sausage that has made its way into Brazilian dishes, with the help of Italian immigrants, has quickly become our favourite dish in Brazil. It’s probably one of the simplest dishes we’ve come across in Brazil and in my opinion the most delicious!
Most of the time linguiça calabresa is simply served with some fried onions, a few spices, and a loaf of white bread.
For us, food plays a huge part in immersing ourselves in the local culture, so trying local dishes is always high on our priority list no matter what country we travel to.
We’re sure there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other Brazilian dishes we have missed.