Brazil offers more than just soccer, rain forests, and breathtaking sites. For instance, the country’s incredible food culture reflects its resourcefulness and history. Thus, while most recipes utilize native produce, the way they are prepared and cooked also shows influences from Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Fortunately, you don’t have to book a ticket to Brazil to see those for yourself. Instead, take Brazil to your kitchen! Start with these traditional Brazilian side dishes and take your taste buds on a fantastic, South American journey.
Farofa is like Brazil’s national side dish; everyone, regardless of economic status, would make farofa. It also complements a wide range of foods, from barbecue to beans. With such versatility, you might think farofa is a fancy affair; however, it’s actually simple: cassava flour is cooked and toasted, so it absorbs the flavors of butter, onions, bacon, and garlic. The resulting treat has a pleasant crunch and subtle taste profile.
Pão de Queijo is known as Brazil’s cheese bread, but it’s nothing like grilled cheese or any other cheese-filled bread. Instead, it’s more of a cheese puff: soft dough filled with your favorite cheeses and meats, too, if you want. Its center bursts out gooey, stringy, and delicious filling when you break it open. Besides serving this with your meals, you can also eat these adorable cheese balls as a snack.
Mandioca frita is known by many other names: fried mandioc, yuca fries, and cassava fries. It’s a delicacy Brazil shares with other nations; hence, the several terms. It’s also an excellent example of resourcefulness because instead of using potatoes, Brazilians use cassava, which is native to them. The flavors and textures differ slightly from regular fries, but you can serve and eat them like any other.
Many recipes for banana a milanesa prepare this dish to make it tastes sweet and appropriate for dessert. However, these Brazilian banana fritters are typically served as a side dish to savory entrees. Indeed, many love the surprising contrasts each piece provides. With every bite, you get a balance of sweet and salty tastes with tender and crisp textures.
Mandioca frita is the Brazilian version of French fries, so is there a similar alternative for mashed potatoes? Indeed, there is, and it’s not made of cassava. Instead, Brazilians blend cooked pumpkins with butter, yogurt, salt, and pepper. The resulting dish is purê de abóbora or mashed pumpkin, which you can serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Unlike the other side dishes in this article, there’s no exact translation for pirão. It is made by cooking cassava flour with broth and tomato paste, then seasoned with salt and pepper. The resulting dish is often served like rice but is described as similar to polenta. Others also compare it to porridge. Safe to say, it has established its own identity, making it even more enticing to try.
Collard greens are often associated with the south part of the US; however, Brazil also has its version, and they call it couve a mineira. There are a few similarities, like cooking the greens with bacon or ham hocks to incorporate a smoky, salty, and meaty flavor. However, Brazilians make their collard greens much quicker, more garlicky, and less saucy. Thus, it’s perfect for those in a rush.
Grilled meats are the stars of every barbecue night, but they’re not the only foods being served. There are also side dishes, and in Brazil, people love to have their churrasco or grilled proteins with this Brazilian vinaigrette. It’s reminiscent of pico de gallo or salsa fresca, with its bright, acidic flavors and chunky textures. However, there are differences, like this recipe being less spicy and citrusy than salsa.
Speaking of barbecue side dishes, another popular treat for such occasions is potato salad. Interestingly, Brazilians also have their version of that called maionese de batata. It’s also served with grilled meats and tastes creamy and cold, like the usual salad. However, theirs is much simpler, made with four ingredients only: potatoes, carrots, mayo, and parsley. However, you can make additions, like boiled eggs or raisins.
Besides potato salad, you can bring salpicão de frango, or Brazilian chicken salad, to the barbecue party. Indeed, it might even be convenient – you can take the freshly grilled chicken and use it to follow this recipe. Besides the chicken, you’ll also need carrots, celery, shoestring potatoes, raisins, corn, onions, olive oil, and lemon juice. With such elements, imagine all the fun textures and flavors this side dish has!
As mentioned, Brazilian cuisine reflects influences from other countries, including Africa. One dish that reflects such impact is caruru, reminiscent of okro soup served in West Africa. Caruru is a heartwarming stew made from shrimp, okra, palm oil, spices, nuts, coconut milk, lime juice, and water. It has a thick, chunky consistency and complex flavor profile, which, admittedly, takes time and effort to achieve.
Tutu de feijão is often translated as Brazilian refried beans or black bean puree. Such translations reflect how creamy, smooth, and dark the dish is. Although its English names may imply that the recipe has Hispanic or Mexican roots, it’s more probable that tutu de feijão is an African influence. Either way, it’s such a unique and delicious dish; there’s no doubt you must try it for yourself.
Besides tutu de feijão, another must-try Brazilian bean recipe is feijão tropeiro or tropeiro beans. Although made with pinto rather than black beans, this dish shares many elements with tutu de feijão. For instance, both recipes have cassava flour and bacon. However, tropeiro beans appear much chunkier and less smooth; they also have eggs and pork sausages.