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Brazil - Culture and Cuisine

Updated on April 13, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

I enjoy writing about personal experiences with my family. I am interested in traveling, any culture, ancestry relationships and animals.

Brazil -a Melting Pot from Around the World

Brazil’s unique culinary influences from the Amerindian and Portuguese foods but cooking styles arrived from immigrants of many countries of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. There are five geographic regions of Brazil, each distinctly different, yet recognizable as Brazilian. Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fourth largest in the world. Brazilian people speak Portuguese.

Fun Loving People

Brazil History

Native Indians developed corn pudding, cassava meal, sweet potatoes, many roots, hearts of palm, species of game and fish, and the preservation of meats by smoking and drying. The Portuguese colonized Brazil, in 1593, and after a lengthy Moorish occupation

Portugal had adopted a variety of North African cooking traditions, such as coffee, dried fruits and pastries which were brought to Brazil. The largest single biggest influence came from the African slaves. During the nineteenth century slavery ended and Brazil became an independent melting pot for immigrants from all over the world. Brazil has a multiethnic and multifaceted menu that is unique and delicious.

Iguacu Falls In Iquacu Park

Photo Courtesy of Travel Brazi. This park is located in the border of Argintina.
Photo Courtesy of Travel Brazi. This park is located in the border of Argintina.

Brazil's Many Fruits and Nuts

Brazil has a huge variety of tropical fruits and nuts such as cashews; and an amazing assortment of fish reign in the north and meat is the primary protein in the south of Brazil. There are numerous fresh fruits that you don’t see in many countries, so if you visit you will be able to try out many wonderful new fruits and nuts.

Churrasco a showy orgy featuring grilled meats of all kinds is not to be missed when visiting Brazil. In the picture to you right is Fraldinha, (pieces of rump roast), sliced picanhas, (which is flank steak) sausages, bread with garlic sauce, and chicken legs.

Fruit is Very Popular in Brazil

Brazilian Fruit Plate; avocado, honeydew melon, passion fruit, watermelon, guava, starfruit, papaya, kumquat, acai, pineapple, mango, cashew apple
Brazilian Fruit Plate; avocado, honeydew melon, passion fruit, watermelon, guava, starfruit, papaya, kumquat, acai, pineapple, mango, cashew apple

Brazilian People

Many people love visiting Brazil because of its people. They are friendly, welcoming, ethnically diverse, helpful, interesting and beautiful all at the same time. They are also chilled out (some might say too chilled), in coastal areas. Unlike other countries you rarely get hassled by vendors and salesmen, although, of course, there are exceptions to this.

Rio Carnival

Biscoitos de Povlho (cassava biscuits)

Biscoitos de Povlho (cassava biscuit recipe)

A typical breakfast in Brazil would be Serro cheese, (which is a cross between feta but soft like mozzarella), an assortment of breads and biscuits. This recipe will make 60-100 small biscuits, depending on how you form them. Coffee with cream is also a must as Brazil is the world's largest producer of coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farinha de milho biju (a type of cornmeal or corn flour)
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup soybean, vegetable, canola or corn oil, plus additional to oil your hands
  • 3 cups povilho azedo (cassava starch)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, stir together the farinha and milk.

Add salt, eggs and oil, and stir to combine.

Slowly add the povilho azedo, stirring with your hand until well incorporated.

Set out several rimmed cookie sheets.

Oil your hands lightly, and break off a small ball of dough, about the size of a walnut.

Roll the dough in your hand to form a small snake approximately 1/2 inch thick. Place it on the baking sheet and bend one end into a curve, like a small candy cane.

Repeat for remaining dough, positioning the biscuits 1/2 inch apart.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the biscuits are dry and crisp.

Let them cool completely, then serve for breakfast or with afternoon tea, or store in a covered container for 2-3 days. You could also freeze leftovers.

Moqueca de Camarao, Shrimp Stew

Photo Courtesy of DCKitchen
Photo Courtesy of DCKitchen

Moqueca de Camarao (shrimp stew, Bahian style)

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dende oil, (a palm oil high in saturated fat)

Directions:

  1. Make a marinade with lemon, onion, garlic, vinegar and salt.
  2. Marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes.
  3. Put mixture into a saucepan and add cilantro, tomato paste and black pepper to taste.
  4. Add thin coconut milk and cook over low heat until the shrimp are cooked.
  5. Add the thick coconut milk and dende.
  6. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Serve with rice.

*Bottled or canned coconut milk can be substituted .

*Dende is available in specialty food stores.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparing Moqueca Recipe

Kale in the style of Minas Gerais

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound kale
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

  1. Wash and drain kale thoroughly.
  2. Bunch the leaves together and cut into 1/4 inch strips.
  3. Sauté the garlic and onion in oil.
  4. Add kale and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes.
  5. Kale should be soft but not discolored.
  6. Note: broccoli leaves make a delicious substitute for kale.

Yield: Serves 6.

Brazil's Feijoada

Photo Courtesy of Margarita's International Recipes
Photo Courtesy of Margarita's International Recipes

Feijoada Recipe #1 Favorite Brazil Dish

The Brazilian Feijoada is Brazil’s undisputed national dish. It is a recipe of bean stew with rice and pork meat. Different ingredients are used in different parts of Brazil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb black beans
  • 1 lb linguiza (cured pork sausage)
  • 2 lbs oxtails
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3/4 lb slab bacon, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb smoked beef sausage

Directions

The day before:

  1. Wash the beans and let them soak in water overnight.
  2. Brown the linguiza and oxtails and parboil.
  3. Remove from the water.
  4. Place meat and broth in the refrigerator.
  5. The next day remove the fat from the broth.
  6. Cook beans in the broth from the oxtails, adding more water if necessary.
  7. When they are soft add cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
  8. Sauté the chopped bacon until it start to brown and add to the beans.
  9. Sauté the onion in the fat from the bacon until golden, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of more minutes.
  10. Add onion and garlic to the beans.
  11. Add the oxtails, linguiza and smoked sausage.
  12. Cook until the oxtails are soft.
  13. Serve with faroga, tomato salad, rice, steamed kale and orange slices.

In Brazil, where faroga is particularly popular, typical recipes call for raw manioc flour to be toasted with butter, salt, and bacon until golden brown. It is an essential accompaniment to Feijoada.

Brazilian people. Ethnically diversed.

Picandinho de Porco (Minced Pork)

Picandinho de Porco (Minced Pork)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or bacon fat
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 pounds pork, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound smoked chourico sausage*
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 malagueta pepper, chopped (optional)**

Directions:

  1. Sauté onion in butter or bacon fat until softened.
  2. Add tomatoes and stir over medium heat until thickened.
  3. Add the pork and the sausage, after removing the casing.
  4. Mix well, breaking the sausage into small pieces.
  5. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meat is done.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and malagueta pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.
  7. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with egg slices and parsley.

*Called chorizo in Mexico. Smoked andouille or kielbasa sausage can be substituted.

**In the US, malagueta peppers are available bottled, not fresh. They are chilis and should be handled carefully because they contain oils that can irritate or burn the skin or eyes.

Yield: 6. servings

Brazil Nut Bread

Photo Courtesy of cookeatshare
Photo Courtesy of cookeatshare

Food Processor Chopping nuts and fruit

Brazil Nut Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz chopped Brazil nuts
  • 1 lb dates
  • 8 oz cherries, drained
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Put the nuts, dates and cherries in a large bowl.
  3. Apple Crumbles put the three ingredients into the food processor – nuts first to chop; then add the dates to combine.
  4. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt over the nut-fruit mixture.
  5. Beat the eggs until foamy and add the vanilla.
  6. Pour the egg mix over the nuts and fruit.
  7. Mix JUST until ingredients are well mixed.
  8. Pour into large loaf pan greased loaf pan.
  9. Bake for 1 hour.

**The directions indicate 1 hour 45 minutes but my bread only took one hour, so please watch carefully as oven temperatures vary.

Cool before slicing.

Conclusion

Brazil is a fascinating country with its diverse population from around the world; yet, food throughout the various regions has that distinctive Brazil flavor. There are so many delicious recipes that you could easily write a series of hubs and not cover them all.

The people are generally laid back, smiling and enjoying life, and the country is a beautiful place to visit

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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