7 Brazilian dishes to cook during the week

In this “7 days, 7 dishes” series, we travel to Brazil to offer you the 7 best Brazilian dishes to cook during the week.

Brazilian gastronomy is a perfect reflection of the multiculturalism that sowed the history of the territory. It is influenced by different ethnic groups that made up its culture: Indigenous, African and Portuguese people, who all contributed to its great richness and variety.

Due to the enormous extension of its territory, Brazilian food is highly regionalized: each area has its own typical dishes. However, there are some dishes that, due to their popularization on Brazil families, are considered national. The central ingredients of Brazilian cuisine are fish, shellfish, beef, and pork, chicken, tropical fruits, beans and cassava, which can be found in almost all regions of the country.

Many of the preparation techniques for the most common ingredients have their origin in indigenous traditions, the basis of most Brazilian dishes. These techniques were adapted by African slaves during the 17th century, who in turn fused native traditions with Portuguese dishes. 

 

Pão de Queijo

This is much more than a cheese bread. Made with Cassava starch, it is totally gluten-free. These little bites are crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and full of cheesy flavor. They are usually eaten as an accompaniment to meals or as a snack.

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Ingredients:

  • 600 ml of water
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 1 ½ cups oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1kg of cassava starch
  • 6 eggs
  • 150g grated Parmesan

Step by Step:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200º.
  2. Boil the water with the oil, milk and salt.
  3. Blanch the starch in a wrapping movement. Let it cool.
  4. Add the eggs, one by one. Mix everything well. 
  5. Add the cheese to the mixture and knead until a uniform consistency is obtained. Roll the dough into balls.
  6. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 200º, low the temperature to 150º and bake for another 5 minutes until it gets golden. 

 

Tapioca

Tapioca is a starch extracted from the storage roots of Cassava plant, a species native to the North and Central-West region of Brazil. This food can be prepared in millions of ways, and, if you eat it as pancakes, you can do it in a sweet or savory way. In this case we offer you the most chocolatey version of Tapioca pancakes, a delicious afternoon snack. 

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Ingredients for the tapioca dough:

  • 500 g of Cassava Starch 
  • 400 ml of water
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Ingredients for the chocolate ganache:

  • 250 ml of coconut milk
  • 250g milk chocolate
  • chopped ripe bananas
  • grated coconut
  • strawberries

Steps for making the tapioca dough:

  1. Place the Cassava Starch in a bowl. 
  2. Beat the cocoa powder with the 400 ml of water in a blender. Pour, little by little, over the Starch we had placed in the bowl. Don’t stop stirring. 
  3. Strain the hydrated Starch. For making the tapioca pancakes, use a medium heat and put a thin layer of dough in the pan. 
  4. Let it heat until it starts to come off the pan, turn it over so that it browns on the other side. Turn off the heat and set it aside. 
  5. Make the rest of the tapioca pancakes till using all the dough.

Steps for making the chocolate ganache:

  1. In a pan, heat the coconut milk.
  2. Once it’s hot (without boiling) pour over the chocolate, stirring until melted. Mix with the banana slices and the grated coconut.
  3. Spread over the tapioca pancakes and enjoy!

 

Coxinhas

This snack is a shredded chicken ball wrapped in a warm, sticky dough that is battered and fried. Some people even mix the chicken filling with cream cheese for an extra juicy touch. As it’s crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, it’s hard to eat just one. 

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Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 chicken breast cooked and finely shredded
  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove squeezed
  • Salt, black pepper
  • 200g of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of sweetcorn
  • Chopped parsley
  • 1 jar of creamy cottage cheese

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 sachet of vegetable seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 cups of wheat flour
  • Breadcrumbs for breading
  • Oil for frying

Steps for making the filling:

  1. Sauté the shredded chicken in the oil until golden. Add the onion and garlic, sauté and season with salt and black pepper.
  2. Add the tomato sauce and a bit of water. Boil until thickened.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the corn and parsley. Let it cool down. 

Steps for making the Coxinhas balls:

  1. Boil the milk with the seasoning, margarine and salt. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously, until a ball of dough forms. 
  2. Move to a flat surface and knead with the roller so that it is very homogeneous.
  3. In molds or with your hands, shape the balls and fill them with chicken and some creamy cottage cheese. 
  4. For battering: pass them first in milk and then in breadcrumbs. 
  5. Fry in plenty of hot oil until golden brown and drain on absorbent paper before serving. 

 

Farofa

Farofa is unique to Brazil and its taste and significance is hard to understand without actually trying it. It is basically fried tapioca flour mixed with small pieces of fried bacon and served alongside rice and beans. 

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Ingredients:

  • 100g of minced bacon
  • 1 skinless smoked pepperoni sausage, cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves, squeezed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups of beans (cooked without broth)
  • 1 cup of toasted Cassava flour
  • Some parsley, chopped
  • 4 cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Step by step:

  1. Brown the bacon without using oil, just with its own fat, add the pepperoni and fry for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until it gets golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. 
  3. Using the same fat, add the eggs and stir until cooked. Add the beans, flour and parsley. Then, add the cabbage little by little, stirring with each addition.
  4. Adjust the salt and season with pepper. 

 

Feijoada

Feijoada is one of the most characteristic dishes of Brazil, nobody can resist eating it.

The black beans, the meats, mostly pork, and the tasty side dishes create a rich flavor and make this delicacy the perfect choice for family meals and gatherings with friends.

feijoada

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of black beans
  • 500g of dried meat
  • 300g of ribs
  • 200g of smoked bacon
  • 200g of smoked sausage
  • 200g of pork tail and feet
  • 1 tablespoon of pork fat
  • 2 tablespoons of minced onion
  • 6 bay leaves
  • ½  cup of orange juice
  • The peel of an orange
  • ½ cup of Cachaça
  • Parsley, chili pepper and salt

Step by step:

  1. Two days before cooking this dish, wash the pieces of meat twice, change the water, and let them soak.
  2. The day before, drain the pieces of meat, wash them well and cook them. Very important: cook the dried meat separately for 10 minutes in the pressure cooker or 30 minutes in the common skillet. 
  3. Drain and fry in hot oil and reserve.
  4. For the final preparation of the dish: In a larger pan place the pork fat, garlic, onion, salt, bay leaf, the meat and pinch of chili.
  5. Let it brown for a few minutes and pour in the beans. Add the water gradually and cook for at least 1 hour. 
  6. Add the juice and the orange peel and finish with Cachaça. Season with salt and parsley.

 

Acarajé

This is a traditional dish of African cuisine, but it is also very famous in the Northeast Region of Brazil. It is a kind of bun made with a mass of beans and shrimp and can be eaten in many ways. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1kg of black eyed peas flour
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cups of dried shrimp, roasted and ground
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • Salt
  • 1L of palm oil
  • Your favourite sauce: Vatapá, Shrimp sauce, bell pepper sauce, salad dressing….

Step by step:

  1. Place the bean flour in a deep bowl and add the ground shrimp. Beat the chopped onions with the boiling water in a blender.
  2. Once mixed, pour in the flour. Mix well, add salt and beat with a wooden spoon for 1 hour or until the dough is light. When the dough is ready, with a spoon, pour small portions of the dough into hot palm oil, as if they were fritters.
  3. Once the dough is swollen and golden, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper to remove the excess.
  4. Fill with your favourite sauce.

 

Açaí

The açaí is the fruit of a palm tree that grows only in the wild, in a rainforest in northern Brazil. It is a superfood; its flavor is reminiscent of a mixture of berries and chocolate and it can be cooked in many ways to obtain different products. 

This time we are going to prepare an Açaí Bowl. This food is typically eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack and is made from frozen açaí. 

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Ingredients:

  • Pure unsweetened Acai Puree (if you can’t find it you can use acai powder)
  • Frozen blueberries and strawberries
  • Frozen banana 
  • Liquid (milk, vegetable milk, fruit juice…)
  • Yogurt 

Toppings:

  • Granola
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Fresh sliced fruit

Step by step:

  1. One day before eating you must freeze your fruit.
  2. To prepare the bowl: Place the frozen açaí and add the liquid and the yogurt to the bowl of a large high-speed blender. Add the frozen blueberries, strawberries and banana.
  3. With the blender on low, blend as much as possible, until smooth, adding only extra liquid when needed. 
  4. To assemble the bowl: divide the smoothie into two bowls and top with all your favorite ingredients. Best enjoyed immediately (because it will melt).

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Judit Sadurni

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