There’s nothing Brazilians love more than their food. A country with such a diverse range of dishes owing to its multi-cultural influence, it has something unique to suit to everyone’s palette. With street food a-plenty, here are 15 items you’ll absolutely have to indulge in!
A classic northeastern dish in Brazil which has its roots in African cooking, acarajé is a deep-fried patty made with black-eyed peas and pureed onions, all fried in palm oil. This fritter is split open and stuffed with a spicy filling of vatapa – a rich puree of vegetables, prawns, bread, cashew nuts, and spices, or stuffed with dried shrimp. A calorie-laden snack definitely, but so addictive when you bite into a piping hot acarajé with a dab of chili sauce. The best place to try out a classic acaraje is the markets of Salvador in Bahia or the street stalls in the markets of São Paulo.
A gooey snack with a crispy exterior, these are quirky little raindrop shaped snacks. Consisting of a heap of shredded chicken which is mixed with a very creamy cheese called ‘catupiry’ and then dipped in a batter and fried till they come out golden. It’s so addictive from the first bite that it’s hard to stop at just one! Best place to eat: Veloso Bar, Sau Paolo
Brazil’s version of chocolate truffles, this tastes like a Nutella ball sprinkled with chocolate for those who have never had it. Made from condensed milk instead of cream that is simmered with cocoa powder and whisking butter into it. Then rolled into balls and coated with chocolate sprinkles, these gooey sweet delights are so delicious that it’s a nationwide favorite and Brazilians won’t hear a word against it. So easy to make, brigadeiros are rolled out for kid’s birthdays and adult’s parties and its hard to not stuff yourself with these especially if you have a sweet tooth! Best place to eat: Bend Café, Sao Paulo.
4. Beijinho de Coco
The name literally translates to the little kiss of coconut, which fits perfectly with this mouth-sized dessert. It’s made with condensed milk and butter mixed together before being rolled up into little balls and covered in coconut flakes. The top is often decorated with a clove. Light and soft, these little treats are popular at Brazilian birthday parties. Almost a coconut version of Brigaderio, these coconut truffles will have you falling in love.
5. Olho de Sogra
This name comes from Portuguese and means ‘eye of the mother-in-law”. Reminiscent of an eye, the name shouldn’t be taken literally since it has no relation to anyone’s actual mother-in-law though. These tiny bonbons made from dried plums or prunes stuffed with a mixture that resembles Beijinhos (the kiss of coconut), they are coated with granulated sugar and are an absolute must-have to satisfy those who are on a desert trail in Brazil.
6. Bolinhos de bacalhau
A famous street food in Brazil, this includes codfish fried into little balls. The locals say that the balls should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and if it is not served so, then you should definitely hit another place! A lot of time is needed to de-salinate and rehydrate these salt-dried codfishes and hence they are usually served in food stalls and bars instead of homes. Served with a dip and a fresh lemon squeezed over your codfish ball, take a bite into these crispy heavens and let your taste buds enjoy!
Best place to eat: Bolinho de Bacalhau, Peruíbe
Deeply ingrained into Brazil’s culinary culture, Churrasco is barbequed cuts of meat on skewers and grilled to perfection after being coated with herbs, wine, and spices. Coarse salt is generously sprinkled on skewers of meat and thrown into a grill, and once the outer layer is cooked to a crisp, the skewers are taken around to serve. Street vendors and churrascarias alike barbeque meat, sausages and prize cuts of meat. But for the best place to try, head to Porcão Rio’s where they’ll indulge you in a wide range of barbeque while enjoying the view through their huge windows.
Picanha is a prized cut of beef which is tender and juicy with its main flavour coming from its cap of fat. Once barbequed, the charred, smoky meat melts in the mouth because of its layer of fat. Makes you drool? Then you should definitely hit the Churrascarias for your share of flavourful, grilled meat. And not just any meat, but the prime cut of meat, picanha, which will always have you coming back for more.
Best place to eat: Braseiro da Gavea, Rio de Janeiro
9. Mandioca Frita
It mustn’t come as a surprise that Brazil and tapioca have a love affair. So dump your regular french fries and try these fritas made from cassava. Chunky, crispy and totally worth your bucks, they are any day healthier than french fries and more delicious. Found on most street vendor carts at Brazilian streets, it’s something one should definitely try!
Best place to eat: Le Petit Restaurante, Minas Gerais
With roots in the middle east, Lebanese immigrants brought this with them when they settled in Brazil and since then it has become a favourite snack. Kibe is made from minced beef or lamb meat that is mixed with bulgur wheat which is then fried, baked or sometimes eaten raw. The fried version is the more popular version and even if you aren’t a beef fan, this is something you shouldn’t miss if you visit brazil.
Best place to eat: Kibe Kibe, Sao Paulo
11. Pão de Queijo
Cheese and bread are two staple items that never go wrong together. These little cheese balls are made from gluten-free bread made from tapioca flour and eggs and filled with grated ‘curado minas’ cheese. These squidgy balls of happiness are sold in packets with tiny cheese balls or even rolls as large as oranges. Various twists can be found to this that include pão de queijo that is eaten in fist-sized rolls or even cake-sized balls and is filled with various meaty stuffing along with cream cheese.
Best place to eat: Cultivar: Rio de Janeiro
Maybe Acai is not something you’ve heard, or maybe it’s already your favourite superfood, there are only two options. This berry from the forests of Amazon was used by the local tribes as a source of energy or often prepared into a sauce to accompany their fish. Once it was thrust into the spotlight as an energy drink, it became hugely popular all across Brazil and can now be found in every café, juice bar, and supermarket. Served as a sweet, jelly-like smoothie topped with granola, bananas, strawberries, and honey, this is a healthy vegan option for your Brazilian vacay! Also available as acai vodka and beer, you can’t miss it!
Best place to eat: Tigela Acai, Fortaleza
There’s no dearth of fried goodness when it comes to Brazil. Served as large rectangular pastries or as triangular fried ones in most snack bars, pasties are stuffed with anything one can imagine – from cheese to beef, to fish, prawns, palm, chicken or cream cheese. Coated in a thin layer of dough and fried till crispy, these are a favorite grab and go option anytime you crave a snack! Also a great accompaniment to drinks as you unwind in the evenings, a sweet version to Pasteis are also available.
Best place to eat: Bar so Adao, Rio de Janeiro
14. Romeu e Julieta
Brazil is spoilt for choice when it comes to Guavas. Although you might have had guavas in its many forms, this might be the quirkiest thing you’ve ever had. Call it a cheesecake if you like, this is made from a thick paste of guava sandwiched between two slices of mild cheese. Served as a piece of a pie, or simply a guava jelly on cheese combination, you will be left with a memory of this even after you leave and wonder how the rest of the world hasn’t caught on with this delicacy.
A very filling dish that is found in most street food stalls, Salpicao is a salad made a mixture of shredded chicken with mayo, ham, olives, raisins, peas, apples, carrots, and topped with the main highlight – shoestring potatoes which are fried and add the crispiness to this salad. An interesting potpourri of flavors, every vendor would have their own twist and the taste will leave you coming back for more!