The Bahian food is often considered to be Brazil’s most flavorful, with its vibrant African culture that dominates the food. It’s characterised by the frequent use of “Dendê oil”, which is extracted from an African palm and the “Malagueta” chili peppers. The magic combination of rich coconut milk and the orange Dendê oil gives the region its distinct and renowned flavours!
Other ingridients that are well-used in the Bahian cuisine is seafood, okra, banana, and African herbs that slaves brought to Bahia. The capital of Bahia, Salvador, long worked as a arrival point for the slaves to work the sugar plantations. It was estimated that 4.9 slaves came to Brazil from Africa between the year of 1501 to 1856 during the “Atlantic Slave Trade Era” and this is naturally represented in the culture throughout Brazil, but especially in Bahia.
FAMOUS BAHIAN DISHES AND LOVED INGREDIENTS
One of Bahia’s most famous dishes are the creamy and delicious “Moqueca” – a Brazilian stew made of fish or/and seafood, coconut milk, garlic, pepper, onion, tomato paste, parsley and naturally – the “Dendê oil”! A similar dish to the Moqueca is the “Bobó de Camarão”, an exquisite stew made of shrimp, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, coconut milk, cassava paste and needless to say – Dendê oil!
Another loved dish from Bahia is the spicy “Vatapá”, a paste made of coconut, Dendê oil, shrimps, and peanuts. Like many other dishes from Bahia, the Vatapá is influenced from the African cuisine brought to Bahia from the Slave trade. The Vatapá is usually accompanied with “Acarajé” or “Caruru”. The Acarajé is made of deep-fried black “Fradinho” beans which are mashed and then deep-fried in Dendê oil and the Caruru is often used as a condiment and is made of okra, onion, toasted nuts and shrimp. These dishes are often considered to be Bahian fast food or street food and is prepared by “Baianas” or “Baianas do Acarajé” – white-dress-clad women who engage in the profession of selling Acarajé and other delicacies of Bahian cuisine!
The Malagueta sauce is served at most Bahian restaurants. Don’t be surprised if the chef ask you if you like your food “quente” (spicy). If you’re not used to Bahian food, the better option could be to have the Malaguete served in a bowl so you can try a little at the time!
The desserts from Bahia are often and mostly made of pure sugar because of the country’s history of being one of the the world’s greatest sugar producers. “Baba de Moça” (Girl Drool) is made of sugar syrup, coconut milk and egg yolks. Another popular dessert from the region is called “Cocada” and is made of coconut and sugar. There is also and amazing “Sobremesa” which is called “Quindim” and is a small cake made of coconut, vanilla and prunes.