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Brazilian Veggie Pot Pie (Empadão de Palmito)


During the colder months, I feel like we eat a lot of pot pies here in the States – at least, that’s when I more often see recipes of it being taught on cooking shows or shared on magazines. Creamy and comforting, the (allow me to call) American pot pie is a perfect dish for when it’s cold outside.

In Brazil, people are obsessed with pot pies. I am obsessed with pot pies! Our version, though, is more adaptable to, let’s say, a wider variety of climates… Most of the country is warm year-round; therefore, our very own version of the dish has a filling that is moist and creamy, but not as soupy, which tastes great either warm or at room temperature. Since the filling is less runny, the pie can be assembled in a springform and unmolded in a serving platter – which is my favorite way to present it. But setting it up in a deep-dish is also fine (and easier).

If you haven’t yet met my Brazilian Chicken Pot Pie or my Shrimp and Hearts-of-Palm Pot pie, please let me introduce you to my Brazilian Veggie Pot Pie! This recipe has hearts-of-palm as its main star which gives this pie its distinct zesty flavor. Black olives, corn, and green peas are some of the other featured ingredients, but you can add or subtract accordingly to your taste (just keep proportions balanced so you don’t end up with less – or too much – filling).

I truly enjoy this recipe since I have been a little girl, at any season of the year. I hope you do too!

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Brazilian Jeweled Rice and Lentils (Arroz à Grega e Lentilhas)


I am going to start this conversation with a very straight forward question: “Do you want to be as lucky as a Brazilian in the next year?”. Ok, let’s assume that your answer is: “Yes, I absolutely do!”. I am so glad that you have chosen the only right answer to my question!!! So, I am going to tell you exactly what to do – or eat – to achieve such good fortune in the upcoming year.

People might roll their eyes at us, Brazilians, since we have this reputation for being superstitious. But… It doesn’t hurt to try, right?! And in this case, the worst that can happen is that you will end up enjoying some really delicious food over the New Year's Eve – or Réveillon, as we call it.

Traditionally, Lentils and Brazilian Style Jeweled Rice cannot be absent from our New Year's feast – which happens only after midnight (yes, we do not eat until after the new year has made its debut). Both dishes are normally served as sides to proteins such as pork or seafood (no chicken or beef allowed in the occasion). This side dishes are colorful, tasty, and they can be prepared somewhat quickly, although their best feature is to bring good fortune in the upcoming year.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy year! Peace, love, and joy. XO- Cynthia

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Salt Cod with Potatoes and Olives (Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá)


Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is a very traditional dish from Portugal that Brazil decided to make its own – like all the other salt cod recipes ever invented in Portugal. 

The method of salting fish or meat, was widely used during the time when Brazil became Portugal’s colony. Therefore, the different recipes and ways to prepare the salt cod were fully embraced by the Brazilians. Wonder why? It’s very tasty and much easier to make than most people would think. 

This recipe is called Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, but if you can’t pronounce that, simply call it Salt Cod with Potatoes and Olives. It is a simple dish that uses only a handful of ingredients. Just watch for timing: it can be prepared in advance, but the salt cod must be soaked for at least 24 hours before cooked. Using salt cod just takes a bit of planning. 

Another important thing: use high quality olive oil and olives. I feel like that, besides the salt cod, the stars in this dish are the olive oil and the olives. Good quality, pungent, rich varieties of olives will work best here. The slightly caramelized onions bring a touch of sweetness, and the potatoes will balance everything out and add sustenance to the dish. The eggs make for a pretty topping – and a delicious one – do not skip it!

A big prove that Brazilians have fully embraced salt cod dishes is that these recipes became an Easter tradition down there! On Easter Sunday, a large casserole or skillet is one of the most popular main courses served at the occasion. It has become that kind of special food that everyone looks forward to.

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is simple to prepare and full of flavor. I promise that salt cod is really easy to handle! Give it try and maybe you will also want to incorporate this new dish into your traditional repertoire - at Easter or at any time of the year!

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Brazilian Baked Cauliflower “Rice” (Arroz-de-Forno de Couve-Flor)


In the last year or so, cauliflower has become a trend ingredient for healthy lifestyle. With this versatile vegetable, people have figured out ways to make low carb recipes in which the cauliflower usually replaces the flour, or rice.

I don’t always go for those trends, but this time I believe this fashion will survive the test of time and simply become a regular item on people’s diet. The reason? Cauliflower makes truly delicious tacos, pizza doughs, fried rice, etc… It’s not something I eat just because “today is Monday so I will try and cut my carbs”. I make and eat recipes in which the carbs are replaced by cauliflower because I enjoy them!

In Brazil, rice is on our table every day. And oh my, we tend to make a boat load of rice at once! So, of course, this often leaves us with more rice than the family can possibly eat. To put those leftovers to good use, Brazilians usually make “Arroz-de-Forno” which consists of leftover rice that is mixed with ANY other ingredient that is available, then baked in the oven with a ton of cheese. It’s comfort food that is often served for Sunday lunch. It’s creamy and cheesy – and by using those two words to describe this dish, you already know that it is delicious! 

I recently used cauliflower in lieu of rice on this recipe, and it turned out just as good! My mom said that she found it comforting, yet lighter if compared to the regular recipe. But she said that she did not miss the rice at all.

You can use all sorts of pantry ingredients that you like. I keep mine very Brazilian – well, I tend to have a very “Brazilian pantry” – so hearts-of-palm, corn, chicken, tomatoes, media crema, and scallions are always there, but you don’t have to limit yourself to those. When I have olives, split peas, and other fresh herbs, I like to throw in the pan too. And lots of cheese of course – which can be any kind that you like – in this case I used a mix of gruyere and swiss that I found in my fridge, but you can use mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or whatever you have on hand.

This “clean your pantry” meal is easy, low in carbs, and lighter than its regular version. So, if you haven’t yet tried riced cauliflower, you are missing out! Enjoy!

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Shrimp with Catupiry (Camarão com Catupiry)


When I first moved to the US, I was very surprised to learn that most people - especially those who were cooking and talking about food on TV - did not think that the combination of shrimp (or shellfish in general) and cheese worked well together. I would think: “How in the world?! I bet these people have never been to Brazil!”.

One of my favorite combinations in Brazilian cuisine is shrimp and a creamy cheese called requeijão – which is our nuttier and creamier version of cream cheese.

There is a brand of requeijão named Catupiry – which has an extra luscious texture – that tastes amazing with shrimp. In fact, they go together so well that there is a dish named “Camarão com Catupiry”. Translating to English, it simply became “Shrimp with Catupiry”.

Several versions of this recipe are available, but all of them have the creaminess and luxurious texture in common. Like most dishes from Brazil, white rice (I prefer jasmine) is the side of choice. To add a bit of crunch, shoe string potatoes are usually served on the side too - my husband rolls his eyes every time I add string shoe potatoes to a dish “Oh! This Brazilian thing”. Sorry, we like it. In fact, we love it!

My version is made in one single skillet that goes from stove top to oven. It has garlic, onions, and a bit of brandy for fun – and smoky sweetness. Béchamel sauce smoothers the shrimp before it is topped with Catupiry prior to broiling. It is simple to make.

As I mentioned, in Brazil we eat “Shrimp with Catupiry” over rice and shoe string potatoes, but I can see this recipe being served with slices of crusty bread (like a dip), or even mixed with elbow pasta for a Brazilian version of mac n’ cheese.

If you think that shrimp and cheese don’t go well together, give this recipe a shot. I bet that you will change your mind.

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Crab and Coconut Brazilian "Risotto" with Mango Salsa ("Risoto" de Carangueijo e Coco com Salsa de Manga)


I knew it was very risky to feature the word risotto as part of this recipe’s title… Even more so having the word Brazilian next to it! I understand that Italians are very proud and protective of this centennial method of cooking rice – as they should be. So, before I start getting yelled at by my Italian friends I think I owe an explanation, right?

First, there is not such a thing as Brazilian risotto (that’s why I put the word risotto under parenthesis). Risotto is the Italian method of cooking certain varieties of high-starch rice in a broth until a creamy consistency develops. A traditional risotto recipe usually contains butter and/or olive oil, onions, wine and broth (vegetable, chicken, beef, or fish). Italians say that risotto is a white canvas that serves as the base to other ingredients to add flavors and textures to the dish.

That said, I was curious about trying to apply some Brazilian flavors to the traditional risotto method. Luckily, my creation was a hit!

So, to create my Crab and Coconut Brazilian “Risotto” I used non-traditional ingredients for the method, although they were all from the same “family”. For example, I used coconut oil to replace butter or olive oil, cachaça in lieu of wine, and a mixture of coconut milk and broth instead of just broth. The result was just as creamy, with the same all dente texture, and a slight unexpected flavor that was begging for the addition of some tropical ingredients. That base was my Brazilian white canvas.

Everything else came together very naturally: loads of scrumptious crab meat, nutty toasted coconut, tangy lime zest and a touch of sweet-spicy mango salsa. I hope you enjoy just as much as I did. Buon Appetito! Bom Apetite! Just give it shot.

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Canja (Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup)


Canja is the ultimate Brazilian “food for the soul”. It tastes like a warm, mild, comforting, and delicious bowl of chicken, thick broth, and vegetables.

When someone does not feel very well, you bet that the Brazilian grandma will show up with a big bowl of Canja to cheer up the heart and to sooth the body… I think that Canja is for the Brazilians the equivalent of what Chicken and Noodle soup is for the Americans. It is like love in a bowl.

In Brazil, Canja has another reason to be so popular: it is believed to prevent hangovers! Early in the morning during the week of Carnaval, often restaurants serve Canja for patrons who have partied all night long. Many times, the grandmas who don’t do Carnaval anymore wait for the younger with a big pot of the soup ready to be enjoyed. After eating some Canja, everyone goes to bed – usually at around 6 am. I have done that several times myself! Canja helps people recover so they can party the whole week straight. Viva a Canja!

I had been thinking about sharing this recipe for so long… Finally, with my mom here visiting from Brazil I found the right opportunity… Last week we all got kind of sick around here. Sure enough, my mom made a big pot of this soothing Brazilian remedy. It was deliciously comforting.

This is her recipe in which the rice serves as the thickening agent – the rice almost loses its shape into the broth. There are other versions where the soup is more “brothy”, therefor they spend less time simmering over the stovetop. I definitely prefer the thicker version of my mom’s.

Don't wait until you get sick to try this recipe. Enjoy it today and feel the love :)

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Brazilian Cuscuz (Cuscuz Paulista)


My Goodness! How much have I missed working on my recipes and, especially, sharing them?! Life with two boys – one being a two-year-old that is not yet at school - and our move to Tampa, “forced” me to take a step back on my cooking activities.

Well, one thing is for sure: I HAVE NO REGRETS!

In fact, spending the last year focusing on the needs of the boys and helping our family to adjust into our new hometown have been a great experience. I feel incredibly grateful to have being able to do that.
That said, I am ready to push the restart button and go back to the kitchen!

I believe that a great come back calls for a super traditional dish – for that reason, I am sharing with you a recipe for Brazilian Cuscuz (Cuscuz Paulista).

I know what some might be thinking: “I had no idea that Brazilians had a couscous recipe!”. Yes, we do! And the version I am sharing here is delicious and it is spelled Cuscuz.
Couscous has its origins in the Northern part of Africa – mainly Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The geographic proximity to Portugal made the recipe make its ways into the Portuguese table – and in the 1500’s it was a very popular dish (not anymore these days).

When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, they found out the indigenous people had a very similar dish. But instead of using semolina flour, the natives used maize flour and/or yuca flour to prepare it.
So the Portuguese incorporated some of the ingredients that they were using already - such as seafood, green olives, and eggs - into this new found flour mixture. Boom! The Brazilian Cuscuz was born.

The version I am sharing here was inspired by the traditional recipe found on the book “Viagem Gastronomica Atraves do Brasil”, by Caloca Fernandes. I made some adaptations on the method and ingredients. I also added a spicy sauce to serve on the side to suit the American palate ;)

This specific version is very popular in the state of São Paulo – that’s why it’s called Cuscuz Paulista. There are different versions around Brazil, especially on the Northern and Northeastern parts of the country. Those versions are more basic, with less ingredients; and often served as side dishes.

This gorgeous and delicious version I am presenting is definitely the center of attention at the dinner table! Enjoy!

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Salmon with Passion Fruit Sauce (Salmão ao Molho de Maracujá)



It was such an honor to be a guest at the TODAY Show once more! Receiving such an invite is so exciting, but the most exciting part is not about being on national television in such a high profile show - like all those movie stars we see on the TODAY show ;) What really gets me excited is to be able to share my Brazilian background through my recipes with a much wider audience!

Being invited to run their cooking segment has allowed me to reach people on four corners of the United States to present them with something that would be new for most. Of course I can reach anyone through my website, but people would have to have the interest on such things to research online. So having that kind of opportunity is like knocking on everyone’s door and saying: “Here is a Brazilian recipe for Salmon with Passion Fruit and Coconut Rice. The hosts of the TODAY show ate and approve it. Why don’t you give it try?” And that is awesome!

So I was delighted to be part of the TODAY’s Valentine’s Day segment and share a delicious, fresh, healthy, and romantic recipe. The whole idea was to present a recipe “to set the mood” and they all agreed that my Salmon with Passion Fruit Sauce and Coconut Rice fitted the bill perfectly – the combination of salmon and passion fruit might sound unusual for some, but it is very well known (and loved) in Brazil. In this easy recipe, I use brown sugar to break the acidity of the passion fruit, and table cream (or crème fraiche) to add a velvety texture to the sauce. Top with fresh herbs and serve over Coconut Rice. 

Photos - Samantha Okazaki/NBC

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Fish Moqueca (Moqueca de Peixe)


Greetings from… Florida! If you often follow my recipes, chances are that you noticed that I haven’t posted anything new in a little while. Well, it was all for a very good reason: we were in the middle of a move! Selling the house, packing all our belongings, finding a place to move in, finding a new school, etc. has kept my hands completely full for a few months – and doing it all in the middle of summer while taking care of my two crazy boys certainly did not make the process any easier… But what really matters is that we are all moved in and well-adjusted to Tampa! We absolutely love it here!!

So to celebrate my first post in long time, I want to share one of my BEST recipes! In fact, I cannot believe I haven’t posted my Fish Moqueca here earlier (I just had a recipe for Shrimp Moqueca).

Fish Moqueca is a traditional stew from the Northeastern part of Brazil – especially from Bahia, which is a culinary paradise! It is made with delicious ingredients, such as coconut milk, red palm oil, and cilantro. It has a beautiful yellow/orange color – due to the red palm oil – and a delicate, unique flavor. I often make this recipe in my events because it is such a crowd pleaser! It is so simple to make and it is, in my opinion, one of the recipes that best showcase the delicious food from Brazil. I hope you enjoy!

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My Ultimate Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga)


If you have been following my website for the past couple of years you may have noticed that this is the third recipe of Shrimp in a Pumpkin that I post. The reason for these many versions is that I keep making improvements to the same traditional Brazilian recipe and the results keep getting better and better… So this one is my ultimate!

If you compare this version to the other ones I have posted, you will notice that this recipe is simpler. It has less ingredients, but the flavors are bolder! I added hot peppers – which I found out to be very complementing of the sweetness of the pumpkin – and the true Brazilian cream cheese, called Catupiry (which we can buy on Amazon!! Yessssss!!!!).

Shrimp in a Pumpkin – or Camarão na Moranga, in Portuguese – is a traditional Brazilian recipe that can add a pretty cool twist to your dinner table this fall! When serving this goodness to your family and friends, make sure you scoop the pumpkin and the sauce together; then serve with simple jasmine rice. Offer Farofa as a side as well, if you want to make this meal even a bit more Brazilian!

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Lentil Soup with Kale (Sopa de Lentilhas com Couve)


I feel like crying when I realize it is just mid-September, but I am already posting soup recipes… It has been a cold September here in Indiana and the soup crave has started. I love soups and having lots of it is definitely my favorite part of winter – the only pleasant part of winter in my opinion. Yes, I am a summer girl!

So to make those cold evenings cozier, I think this soup fits the bill just fine! It is hearty and simple, yet it is packed with tons of good-for-you ingredients.

Lentils and kale is a combination that has been used in Brazilian cuisine forever (beans and kale too). In fact, kale is a very widely used ingredient in Brazil since pretty much forever… I honestly think it is so funny how just recently (I would say maybe in the last 3 or 4 years?) kale has become a trendy ingredient in the US. It became a synonym of healthy food, hard-to-drink smoothies and green-anything culinary. But I am SO glad America discovered kale and I really hope people keep experimenting with this nutritious ingredient! So get warm and feel good with this easy-to-make soup.

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Cod Casserole with Hearts-of-Palm (Bacalhau Fresco com Palmito ao Molho Branco)


In Brazil, the dishes that are traditionally served on Good Friday are the ones with some kind of fish, especially salt cod (bacalhau). I love salt cod!! My sister is an expert and she makes some amazing salt cod recipes for our family every year!! Salt cod is delicious, but a bit tricky to be prepared… It must be desalted in water overnight, and the water must be changed several times (people say at least 7 times). I have to confess that as much as I love salt cod, these days I prefer to substitute fresh cod in some of those traditional Brazilian recipes. 

This Cod Casserole with Hearts-of-Palm is a creamy and delicious recipe that I adapted with the use of fresh cod. This dish is easy to make and WAY faster to prepare, since I used fresh cod. Hearts-of-palm are a bit acidic and the white sauce balances that out, giving this dish a smooth and velvety texture. To give a bit of a fresh touch, I used scallions and cilantro to finish the white sauce, but Italian parsley would also taste incredible in this recipe. I hope you enjoy sharing this recipe with your family!

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Panqueca de Carne Moida (Brazilian Crêpes with Meat Filling)


Crêpes are really thin pancakes and they can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. I grew up eating them at home – my Mom makes the best ones! In fact, this is a very special recipe post because during the testing and photo shoot I had the chance to be hands-on in the kitchen with my Mom; and since she is the crêpes expert, this time I could take a step back and watch the process, photograph, and take some really good notes. We had a lot of fun! The whole family ended up getting involved: my husband, my 4-year-old, and even the baby ended up participating on the process.

Cooking with my Mom is an opportunity that I unfortunately do not have very often. She still lives in Brazil and I live in the US. But I just recently had my second baby boy so she flew to Indiana to spend some time with us. When baby William give us a little break, I often ask her to help me prepare some of the recipes I grew up eating.

My Mom’s “Brazilian Crêpes with Meat Filling” are delicious and fairly simple to make (the step-by-step with pictures is helpful!). You can make the crêpes in advance and store in the fridge for a couple of days. You can also be creative with filling: besides the meat and vegetables, I also love to use shredded chicken with corn. For the sweet lovers, my absolute favorite is dulce de leche. Once you have the crêpes ready, the possibilities are endless and SO GOOD!!!

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Butternut Squash Quibebe with Chicken and Coconut Milk (Quibebe com Frango e Leite de Coco)


I was so excited to see the very first few butternut squash of the season showing up at the grocery store! I love all squashes, but the winter ones are my favorites! In Brazil, the varieties that we call winter squashes can be found year round. Every year, I look forward to this season to share some of our delicious recipes. So my first Brazilian recipe of this season will be Quibebe. Don’t be intimidated by the strange name, Quibebe is really easy and quick to make (prep time and cooking time shouldn’t take longer then 25 to 30 minutes). Now, you are thinking: “So what is this”? Ok, Quibebe is a delicious butternut squash stew, usually cooked with some spices and, sometimes, herbs. It is a typical dish from Northeastern Brazil. It is a side dish, but sometimes it is prepared with some kind of meat (very commonly jerk meat) and it becomes a main course. In this recipe, I made a richer version with the addition of chicken breast, coconut milk and fresh herbs. It is to die for! Quibebe is usually served with rice, but you can leave the rice out and make it a Paleo main course. If you are doing it the Paleo way, also remove the dark brown sugar. I hope you try this easy and flavorful Brazilian dish!

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Chicken Parmigiana (Frango à Parmegiana)


It might be surprising for most people, but Chicken Parmigiana is a well beloved recipe in Brazil! Just like most Brazilian dishes, it is usually served with rice and beans on the side (I guarantee it goes perfectly fine with rice and beans). In this recipe, I make a more traditional move and serve it over linguini. Delicious!!! My husband said it was the best Chicken Parmigiana he has ever had; and he is picky since I turned him into a culinary “critic”. The addition of ham and good quality cheeses (I used a mixture of half mozzarella and half Fontina) also made my version of Chicken Parmigiana extra flavorful. And just in case you were wondering: yes, it is Brazilian comfort food and I especially enjoy it right now, since I am pregnant! Your family will love this one!

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Chicken with Cream of Corn (Frango com Creme de Milho)


My mom used to make this recipe and serve with slow roasted meat. I can’t remember the name of the cut of meat, but I can remember the delicious flavor of the Cream of Corn. Nutty, sweet, and creamy this recipe is Brazilian comfort food (I know… I know… one more recipe that is all about my pregnancy cravings). My favorite way to serve this cream is over perfectly baked, moist chicken breast. This recipe is an easy and flavorful way to take advantage of the sweet corn season, but frozen corn kernels could serve as a substitute if fresh is unavailable. The whole family will enjoy this healthy meal!

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Comfort food, all I want is comfort food!!! I am expecting our second child right now, and all I crave are the meals that my mom used make for our family back on the days I lived in Brazil. Similar to the Shepherd’s Pie, Madalena is a traditional Brazilian recipe and it is usually served with rice and beans on the side. Comforting and creamy, this casserole can be made in advance and baked the next day. It reheats well and it tastes even better the next day, which makes for a very practical weeknight meal year-round. Enjoy!

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Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga)


I am not an advocate for the use of microwave oven in cooking, so when one of my mom’s best friends, Leila, told me she had a delicious, EASY and much QUICKER version of Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga) that was mostly prepared in the microwave I was not convinced at first. But she was firm: “You have to try”. Since Leila is a great cook, I decided to give it a shot. Well, I am glad to say that she was right! The pulp of the pumpkin was moist and soft; and the cream cheese incorporated into the shrimp sauce perfectly. This classic Brazilian recipe is normally prepared in the conventional oven so take a look at my other version of Shrimp in a Pumpkin. The version made in the conventional oven has that delicious slightly roasted flavor; and the version made in the microwave is more moist and, of course, easier to make. Well, both recipes are slightly sweet, creamy and delicious. If you like spicier, use more jalapenos in the sauce, or remove them completely if you prefer it mild; or use a different kind of hot pepper to your preference. Enjoy!

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Shrimp Bobó (Bobó de Camarão)


Shrimp Bobó is a Brazilian traditional recipe from the state of Bahia. Yuca, coconut milk and red palm oil give this delicious stew its rich color and flavor. Everything about this dish might sound exotic for most people, but Bobó is one of the most beloved dishes from Bahia, along with Moqueca, Acarajé and Vatapá (sorry about the crazy names). Everytime I throw a dinner party where I want to show off some of the best authentic flavors from my country, I include this recipe in the menu. Fairly simple to make, it is perfect over a bed of jasmine rice (some like it with Farofa on the side). This dish will awaken your palate and transpor you to Bahia, Brazil. Be ready for a party of flavors in your month!

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