In the middle of the 1500s, when Portuguese sailors discovered they could venture on long sea voyages by taking salted cod along with them for food, the area known as Brazil was discovered and colonised and it is now the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.
Portuguese settlers, along with African slaves settled in Bahia in the north-east, a province still renowned for its cuisine, brought a range of influences and ingredients, including the Portuguese salted cod, onions and garlic, as well as a love of baking and desserts, especially egg custards; while the Africans brought dende (palm oil), coconut, plaintains and okra.
The national dish, feijoada, is believed to have been created by African slaves using dried beans, kale and cassava, along with what were considered off-cuts of pork and air-dried beef.
The southern part of Brazil was settled later with coffee plantations, which brought western European and Arab immigrants with the skills for cheese making and preserving meat. They contributed to a diverse cuisine centred around the Minas Gerais region.
The Brazilian barbecue churrasco originated in the south of Brazil with the gauchos, or cowboys, who prized a cut of meat from the top of the beef rump called picanha. It's rolled in rock salt and sometimes garlic, and cooked rotisserie-style over charcoal on long skewers.
Brazilians love their savoury snacks (salgadinhos), which they eat along with strong, black coffee or the caipirinha cocktails that are considered Brazil’s national drink (made with cachaça sugar cane rum, sugar and lime juice). On most street corners you can also find pao de queijo, bite-sized cheese breads.
While tropical fruits are eaten across Brazil at the end of a meal, sweets are very popular and very sweet. Some are flavoured with fruits like coconut and pineapple, and include quindim – a custard made with many eggs and coconut.
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Quindim is a popular Brazilian baked dessert made from sugar, eggs and coconut. It is dense, intensely sweet and very addictive! While Dora Silva brushes her moulds with glucose syrup for added sweetness and shine, you could also use melted butter or cooking spray.
An easy and delicious Brazilian dish of chicken and prawns braised in coconut milk. Dried shrimp, garlic, ginger and crushed cashews add extra crunch and flavour to this recipe.
Try this colourful recipe from Brazil for a marvellous seafood stew with the fresh flavour of lime and the mellow taste of red palm-fruit oil, a Brazilian favourite. Serve as part of a shared meal.
This recipe for the national dish of Brazil is made from various kinds of beef and pork, which are slow cooked with black beans then served with crunchy farofa. The smoked and cured meats are available from Spanish, Portuguese and South American delis. When the feijoada is nearly ready, be careful not to use a fork or spoon (or in fact any metal utensil). This is said to spoil the flavour and turn the dish sour.