Brazilian recipes for a vegetarian meal

Are you dreaming of going to Brazil someday? Or have you been and you miss Brazil? Bring Brazil into your home by exploring the scents and flavour of Brazilian cuisine. The Brazilian kitchen features a lot of specialties that you can only find in Brazil. Food is an important part of any trip and why not start your journey from the comfort of your own kitchen? I will share my recipes for a completely vegetarian Brazilian meal and where you can get all the ingredients.

So what’s on the menu today? The first course is delicious traditional Brazilian cheese bread, also referred to as pão de queijo by the locals. For the main course we serve tapioca, a Brazilian wrap that you can fill up with vegetables and/or cheese. Make sure to save yourself a little, because the last item on the menu is a delicious açaí bowl. Finally, I’m sure all that yummy food will make you thirsty, so I’ll share my secret recipe for the perfect caipirinha cocktail with you!

The recipes are based for a dinner party of four. All ingredients are available in the supermarket, unless stated otherwise. Oh and full disclosure: not all pictures in this post are mine, after all that cooking I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures of the food during my Brazilian night.

Disclaimer: after trying these dishes you might experience a strong(er) desire to visit Brazil.

STARTER: PÃO DE QUIEJO

Are you a cheese addict? Then pão de queijo, also known as Brazilian cheese bread, is the perfect starter for you! This delicacy was probably first baked in the 18th century in Minas Gerais, when slaves had to prepare bread and coffee for their masters. Wheat wasn’t cultivated on a large scale at the time. The slaves used tapioca instead, a starch created from dried cassava root.

In the 18th century parmesan cheese and mozzarella may not have been used to bake Brazilian cheese bread, so this recipe is not completely authentic … But it’s super tasty either way! The Brazilians eat pão de queijo with a cup of coffee, but I like it better as a starter for a meal. Don’t feel pressure to perform well because of the beautiful cheese bread in the picture, if your cheese bread looks lumpy and has brown spots all over after baking you know you did it just right. 😉

Cooking essentials

Oven
Sauce pan
Baking paper
Mixer

Ingredients

4 cups tapioca available at Hollands & Barrett.
1.25 cup milk
0.5 cup water
6 teaspoons oil
1.5 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzerella
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
  2. Pour the milk, water, oil and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boiling point.
  3. Place the tapioca flour in a bowl and add the contents of the saucepan as soon as it boils and mix the ingredients using a mixer.
  4. Throw in the eggs one by one while you keep mixing.
  5. Add the cheeses little by little while you keep mixing.
  6. Wet your hands with cold water and make golf ball sized balls.
  7. Place the balls on a tray with baking paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese bread turns brown.

* The dough should be very soft and sticky. If you teel the dough is too liquid, you can add more tapioca.
* The unbaked cheese bread can be kept in the freezer up to 3 months.

MAIN COURSE: BRAZILIAN TAPIOCA

When I lived in Brazil I had Brazilian tapioca as a snack, but have two and you have a meal! You probably already figured, but Brazilian tapioca is made from the same tapioca starch as Pão de Queijo. The dish originates from the Northeast, but nowadays the specialty is prepared in every corner of the country.

Brazilian tapioca is a kind of wrap made from tapioca starch and water. The wrap has a very special and sticky texture and does not have much flavour. Tapioca is a great base, but it’s the fillings that make this dish so tasty. The fillings for tapioca can be savory or sweet. I’ve listed a few suggestions for fillings below, but feel free to experiment with other ingredients.

Cooking essentials

Frying pan
Sieve

Ingredients:

500 gram tapioca available at Hollands & Barrett
1.5 cup water

Ingredients for the fillings

Savory

Feta & spinach
Eggplant
Grated cheese & corn
Mushroom
Tomato & cheese

Sweet

Peanut butter, banana & grated coconut
Banana & cinamon
Nutella

Preparation:

  1. Put the tapioca in a bowl.
  2. Add water a little at a time and knead the tapioca with your hands until it becomes crumbly.
  3. Make the tapioca crumbs smaller using a sieve. If all went well, you will only be left with fine and moist crumbs.
  4. Turn on the stove on a high temperature and let the frying pan heat up.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of tapioca in the frying pan and cook for 1 minute. Turn over and cook for another minute.

Add the filling.

* The uncooked tapioca batter can be kept in the refrigerator for a week.

DESSERT: AÇAÍ

This delicious dessert, which is often eaten for breakfast in Brazil, is effortless after you tok your time to stock up on the ingredients.

Açaí is a berry that grows in the Amazon on the banks of the famous Amazon River. The berries are hardly eaten fresh because they start rotting an hour after they fall from the trees due to the tropical climate of the Amazon. The açaí berry is therefore often processed in juice, powder or my personal favourite: a frozen smoothie-like substance.

Açaí is served with banana, granola and paçoca. Paçoca is a sweet treat consisting of peanuts, sugar and salt. You have this sweet treat crumbled and sprinkle it on top of your açaí bowl. This is my favourite recipe for an açaí bowl, but feel free to get creative with your preferences.

Ingredients

600 ml Açaí available at Açaí bowl Amsterdam and Bol. Just a heads up: açaí in The Netherlands doesn’t come cheap.

Because açaí is very expensive in The Netherlands I sometimes use the vegan mango ice cream from Albert Heijn instead. This is also super yum!


2 Paçoca sweet treats available at webshop Finalmente Brasil.
2 Bananas
4 Spoons granola

Preparation

  1. Divide the açaí over 4 bowls.
  2. Cut the bananas into slices and divide them between the bowls.
  3. Garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of granola and half a crumbled paçoca treat.

BEVERAGE: CAIPIRINHA

The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail and often described as a Brazilian mojito. Because caipirinha in Brazil is even cheaper than beer, I drank quite a bit of caipirinhas when I lived in Brazil. I have seen many ways to prepare this cocktail. I decided to experiment at home to find the best recipe.

In this recipe I will share with you how I prepare the famous cocktail the way I like it best. You might have seen people using a blender in Brazil or bartenders who just pour the liquor in the glass. Trust me when I tell you this is not the way to go with a caipirinha. Follow the recipe below and you will taste the best caipirinha you ever had!

Cachaça is the main ingredient of the caipirinha. Cachaça is a sugar cane distillate and has a significant and strong flavour. There is a large difference between cheap and more expensive cachaça. I have no preference for a specific brand, but my advice is to avoid the cheapest ones. These are considerably less tasty and it is highly likely you will wake up with your head pounding the next day.

Essentials

Shaker / tupperware container with lid
Measuring cup
Cocktail muddler
Reusable straw

If you, just like me, don’t own a cocktail set you can get creative with your kitchen utensils. You can use a tupperware dish with lid as a shaker, measure with your gut (and probably get drunk faster) and use your reusable straw as a muddler.

This recipe is for 1 caipirinha.

Ingredients

12 Ice cubes
0.5 Lime
2 Tea spoons cane suger
50 ml Cachaça available at Gall & Gall and other liquor stores.

Preparation

  1. Cut the lime in 8 wedges.
  2. Place the lime wedges in a glass and add the cane sugar. Mix this together using the muddler or reusable straw.
  3. Place 6 ice cubes in the glass and 6 in the shaker / tupperware container.
  4. Pour the cachaça in the shaker / tupperware container, put the lid on and shake it! Feel free to move along with your hips.
  5. Pour the cachaça into the glass without the ice cubes and stir the drink with your reusable straw.

Hopefully the recipes above help you to bring the scents and flavours of Brazil to your home. Don’t forget to put on Brazilian beats while you cook and eat. Enjoy your meal or as they would say in Brazil: bom apetite!

Do you have any favourite Brazilian recipes or creative variations on the dishes above? Don’t be shy, let me know below!

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