Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
8 May 2013 - 2:07 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM


Cassava is a long, tapered tuber that has a pinkish brown-skin with milky white flesh. It is the third greatest source of carbohydrate in the world and an essential part of Brazilian cuisine. It can be fried as a side dish, slow-cooked with ribs or made into flour and baked in breads and cakes.

Black beans

Black Beans (feijoa) and white rice form the basis of the staple 'plate' in Brazil. Black beans are one of the key ingredients in the national dish, feijoada.


Kale (Couve) is a dark green-leaved ancient relation of the cabbage. The stalks are discarded, the leaves finely shredded and stir-fried with oil and garlic as a delicious side dish.


Coriander (Coentro) is primarily used in the north-eastern region of Brazil, Bahia. Fresh coriander leaves are a common garnish for seafood and poultry dishes.

Dried prawns

Dried Prawns (Camarao seco) are finely blended to a powder or soaked and ground. These tiny sun-dried prawns add a great depth of flavour to Bahian dishes such as xinxim de galinha.


Regularly used in marinades for meat or as the key ingredient in the ubiquitous caipirinha cocktails, lime juice provides a refreshing zing to cut through many of the rich Brazilian dishes.

Tapioca starch

Tapioca starch (Povilho Azedo) is fermented and similar in texture to cornflour, it is used to make pão de queijo, a cheese bread that is served all over Brazil.

Manioc flour

Manioc Flour is another by product of cassava. Manioc flour is the main component of farofa, the much-loved topping sprinkled over dishes to give crunch. Similar in texture to dried breadcrumbs, the coarse flour is toasted in butter or oil and combined with fresh parsley and small amounts of smoked meat such as chorizo and bacon.

Dende oil

Dende oil is often described as the heart and soul of Brazilian cuisine, palm oil is a native product of West Africa, brought to Brazil by African slaves. An extract of the kernel, it gives a distinctive red-orange colour and rich flavour to many Bahian dishes. Look for it in Portuguese butchers or delicatessens.

Carne seca

Carne Seca is literally translated as dried meat. The term carne seca encompasses varying cuts of beef that are salted and cured.