Away from fast food fare of World Cup stadiums, Brazilian cuisine is delicious and diverse

From feijoada to caprinhas, Gillian Orr offers up a taste of the nation

You have to pity those poor England players. When the World Cup gets under way next week, not only will our footballers have to carry a nation's hope on their (well-defined) shoulders and be forced to run around a field in heat reminiscent of a Virgin Active sauna, but they will also need to forgo all of the delights of Brazilian gastronomy in favour of a strict diet of boring old chicken, steamed vegetables and pasta.

The team might be well-rehearsed with such imposing nutritional guidelines but they are in Brazil, home to one of the most diverse and exciting cuisines in the world. So not for them the warming spice of moqueca bahiana (a seafood and coconut milk stew) or the comforting delights of pão de queijo (cheesy bread rolls). And, perhaps worst of all, no churrasco (meat barbecue) for Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard et al. Enjoy the egg-white omelettes, lads.

There is not really any such thing as a nationwide Brazilian cuisine (although a black-bean stew with beef and pork called feijoada is the closest it has to a national dish); instead, food and flavours differ greatly by region, reflecting the country's size and its rich history of immigration. "There are some dishes, such as feijoada, that are eaten all over the country but many dishes are regional," says Shelley Hepworth, co-author of the new book This is Brazil: Home-style Recipes and Street Food. "The state of Bahia has a strong African heritage and you see the influence in the food: seafood stews using the distinctive dende oil and street food such as acaraje, which is a black-eyed pea fritter. Churrasco, although eaten all over, hails from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, and cheese balls are associated with Minas Gerais. In regions such as Amazonia, there is a strong indigenous influence and the amount and variety of seafood is reflected in the cuisine there."

So what should people travelling to Brazil for the World Cup look out for? The first England game (against Italy) takes place next Saturday in Manaus in northern Brazil, where they specialise in Amazon gastronomy. Here, they pride themselves on their fish, which they serve roasted in charcoal, boiled or fried. Although they offer many unique types, they are most famous for their jaraqui, a small freshwater fish, and the enormous pirarucu. A popular seafood stew served in the region is caldeirada, which is not dissimilar to a bouillabaisse. Unique exotic fruits are also a big draw here, and graviola, pupunha, and caju should all be sampled.

From there, the team will travel to São Paulo in south-eastern Brazil, long admired by those in the know as its foodie capital (much to Rio de Janeiro's chagrin). Every lunchtime, vast numbers chow down virado a paulista, a dish consisting of rice, beans, toasted manioc flour, garlic sausage, steak, sautéed kale, fried plantain and a fried egg. It is simple, tasty, cheap, and traditional São Paulo.

Lastly, in the group stages, the team will play in Belo Horizonte. A few caipirinhas – Brazil's national cocktail consisting of cachaça, sugar and lime – is a must.

"Brazilian food is a unique mash-up of indigenous, Portuguese and African cooking that you won't find anywhere else," Hepworth says. "Cassava [root] is a staple that's used extensively in everything from savoury breads and biscuits to soups and stews and all kinds of desserts. It's very versatile. Brazilians also love their petiscos, which is the Portuguese answer to Spanish tapas. People should try the cheese bread, salt cod fritters and pastels."

Inside the football stadiums there will be burgers, pizza and chips on offer. But those who are willing to experiment will be rewarded with delightful Brazilian street food such as empanadas (deep-fried pies filled with anything from ground meat to cheese), coxinhas (chicken croquettes), bolinho de bacalhau (salt cod fritters), and acaraje (fried balls of shrimp, black-eyed peas and onion), which will be served alongside the more familiar fast food.

But you don't need to spend half a day in the sky to sample some Brazilian fare; there are plenty of delightful recipe books available (as well as the aforementioned This is Brazil, be sure to look out for another new tome on the subject, Thiago Castanho's Brazilian Food). And specialised restaurants are popping up all over the UK, with all-you-can-eat churrascos in particular beginning to pepper high streets.

Mike Nayla, owner of Rodizio Rico, a chain of Brazilian churrascos with branches in London and Birmingham, decided to introduce the barbecue buffets in 1997 after falling in love with the cuisine on visits with his wife to her native Brazil. "There wasn't anything much like it in the UK back then," Nayla says. "And I knew from my own experience that the food was wonderful."

Like most Brazilian restaurants and bars, Rodizio Rico will be showing the World Cup games and it is expecting a stampede. So even if you missed out on making it to Brazil, you can at least savour a taste of it.

'This Is Brazil' by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth (Hardie Grant, £16.99)

Bolinho de Bacalhau (salt cod fritters) by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth

Makes 15-20

330g dried salt cod
1 lime, sliced
1 litre vegetable stock
Dash of white wine
500g all-purpose potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Half an onion
1 egg, separated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh
coriander
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon plain flour
Oil for deep frying
Lime wedges to serve

Bolinho de Bacalhau (salt cod fritters) by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth Bolinho de Bacalhau (salt cod fritters) by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth
Soak the cod in cold water overnight, changing the water at least once. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the drained cod in a roasting tin and cover with the lime slices. Pour in the stock and white wine. Poach the cod in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool, then gently peel off the skin from the cod and break the flesh in half, removing the spine. Shred the cod with your fingers, removing any bones.

Boil the potatoes until soft, then drain well and mash. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the onion over a medium heat for 3 minutes until tender. Combine the cod with the potatoes, onion, egg yolk and coriander. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl, then add it to the cod mixture along with the salt. Use your hands to combine the mixture.

Add the flour, if needed, to help the mixture hold its shape. Shape the mixture into balls or croquettes and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Heat 2.5cm of oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan to 180C or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown in 15 seconds.

Cook the fritters for 3-4 minutes per batch until golden brown. Remove the fritters using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Serve with lime wedges.

Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth

Serves 6

1 x 1.8kg free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon paprika
1kg okra
125ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
45g chives, snipped
45g parsley, chopped
Steamed rice to serve

Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) by Fernanda De Paula and Shelley Hepworth
Season the chicken pieces with the garlic, paprika, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Wash the okra and dry it completely with a clean tea towel. Cut the okra into 1cm slices. Heat half the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook the okra, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, or until the sticky substance stops seeping out. Turn off the heat, discard the excess oil and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onion over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until well browned. Add the chicken pieces and brown well. Pour in enough boiling water to almost cover the chicken. Season with salt. Cook over a medium heat with the pan half-covered for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.

Add the fried okra and cook until the sauce has thickened. If there is too much liquid, cook until it has reduced. Stir in the chives and parsley and serve with rice.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering