While the food in Brazil is flavourful and has complex tastes, many of their recipes are actually very cheap and simple to make. This is because they tend use fresh, locally grown ingredients of the highest quality, and so not much has to be done to make great dishes. Here are some of the common ingredients you’ll find in Brazil, and how you could use them at home.
The warm, tropical climate of certain parts of Brazil has made it the world’s biggest suppliers of oranges. Wander around the streets and you’ll often see people selling oranges in crates, and there are often stalls selling freshly pressed juice. Orange salad is sometimes served in restaurants, with the slices topped with salt, pepper, and sugar.
As the old Frank Sinatra song goes: “They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil”, and in addition to brewing the stuff and turning it into cocktails, Brazilians will often use it in recipes. Coffee cookies are delicious, crisp little treats that can be dunked in your morning beverage, or enjoyed as a dessert.
Brazilians love a simple side dish of rice to go with their exotic stews and casseroles, and they have many ways to transform the humble ingredient into something exciting. At restaurants such as Cabana Brasil in London, you’ll find them serving the popular biro-biro rice, which is a popular fried rice with onions, shallots, and parsley; the perfect compliment to spicy cuisine.
Limes are abundant in Brazil, and a popular drink known as ‘Brazilian lemonade’ is actually a chilled, ultra-sweet concoction of limes, condensed milk, and ice. The national cocktail of Caipirinha also relies on fresh, zesty limes, muddling them with sugar before cachaça liquor and fruit juice are added. They’re also a big feature in some of the country’s favourite fish stews such as moqueca, pairing perfectly with firm white fish.
Deep in the Amazon forest, these large, flavourful nuts are popular in recipes around the world. The Brazilians use them in many different ways, from savoury to sweet dishes. Brazil nut soup – sopa de castanha – is rich and creamy, with the nuts baked, skins removed, and then ground down before being made into the soup. Chocolate covered Brazil nuts are often sold in bags by street vendors, and Brazil nut cookies give a unique and rich flavour.
Often used in exotic drinks and sweet juices, Guava is also used in many traditional Brazilian desserts. Bolo de rolo looks a little like a Swiss roll, but has thinner layers of sweet dough, and melted guava as a filling. The gelatinous dessert of goiabada is made with guava, and this is sometimes spread on toast or even paired with Minas cheese by locals.
The tropical climate of Brazil makes it ideal for growing many types of crops, and the abundance of many of these ingredients has made them popular in traditional dishes. From brightly coloured fruits, to rich beans, Brazil’s food has endless flavour combinations to explore and enjoy.