From Acai to Zaeli: All You Need to Know About Brazilian Food in Dublin
Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country in size and population, famous for its legendary football players, sensual bosa nova and lively samba music, rhythmic martial art capoeira and the world’s largest Carnival. This month of August, Brazil is also known as the host of the Summer Olympics 2016, and as people from all over the world are giving their best in Rio de Janeiro, the motto of this year’s competition A New World inspired us to discover a mundo novo closer to home. Join us as we share the best Brazilian food in Dublin.
In order to explore the dishes, ingredients and drinks that are available, we’ll go A to Z, explaining what they are and at the end you’ll find a guide of shops and restaurants where you can find them.
Acai Berries: Euterpe oleracea, it’s a grape-like fruit hailed as superfood due to their generous amounts of antioxidants, fiber and good fats as well as Vitamins A, C and E. Fresh acai berries are nearly impossible to find, but they are popular dried or powdered.
Acai berry drinks and snacks are available in Brazilian shops. Dried acai berries and powdered supplements can be found at most health shops.
Bife a Cavalo: Very popular Brazilian dish consisting on a steak cooked to your choice with one or two fried eggs on top. The name means “steak on a horse” as it looks like the eggs were “riding” the steak.
It’s usually served with rice and a side salad. It’s very easy to make at home and it’s an usual feature on the menues of Brazilian restaurants.
It’s available at independent off-licenses such as Molloy’s Liquor Stores and in selected SuperValus.
They are extremely easy, fun and quick to make at home, and most Brazilian shops and restaurants in town offer homemade brigadeiros.
Cachaça: Brazil’s most popular distilled spirit, although sometimes called “Brazilian Rum” it’s made from the juice of the sugarcane instead of molases. You can find white cachaça (unaged) and gold cachaça (aged). Gold cachaça is clearer and milder flavoured than aged rum.
Fuba Cachaça is available at O’Briens, other brands are at off-licenses like Mitchell and Son and Celtic Whiskey Shop.
Caipirinha: Brazil’s most famous cocktail, made with 2/3 oz cachaça, 2 tsp sugar and 1 lime cut in 4 wedges, served with crushed ice on an Old Fashioned glass. To make it, place the sugar and the lime wedges in the glass and mash with a muddler or wooden spoon, then add the ice and the cachaça. You can also go for one at most Brazilian restaurants, or in bars like Fade Street Social, The exchequer or The Bar With No Name.
Churrasco: Brazilian style grilled beef, commonly served at churrascarias or rodízios (all-you-can-eat restaurants specialising in Brazilian BBQ). It can be made with several types of meat, cooked on skewers and served by cutting a portion directly from the stick.
Brazilian shops sell ideal meat cuts, and most Brazilian restaurants have it in the menu (Rio Rodízio in Ranelagh especialises in this).
Churros: Fried dough-pastry similar to choux, usually extruded and served hot, golden and crispy, frosted with sugar. Larger size churros can be filled with doce de leite, chocolate or other sweet ingredients. They are also very popular in Spain and most Latin American countries.
You can find churros at Brasileiro shop (Capel St.) and Pulidos (Bolton St.). If you want to make them yourself, avoid baked versions.
Coxinha: Pear-sized snacks (mini versions in bite size are also popular) consisting in pulled or chopped chicken cooked and covered in dough, battered and fried. They are very popular as a quick lunch or as finger foods (the mini version).
Most Brazilian restaurants and shops offer them in Dublin, usually in a small counter with controlled temperature to keep them warm.
Doce de leite: Brazil’s caramel or dulce de leche, a creamy, golden, toffee-like spread made by slowly cooking milk and sugar until it becomes creamy. It can be used as a paste or as filling for cakes. You can also add it to ice cream or sweeten smoothies and coffee with it.
Found in most Brazilian shops, but you can make a substitute by slow cooking condensed milk.
Erva Mate: Ilex paraguariensis, it’s a tropical herb native from Paraguay but very popular in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina (where it’s known as Yerba Mate). It is used to prepare an infusion with compounds similar but milder than caffeine.
Mate leaves and the traditional infuser used to drink it are available in Brazilian shops.
Feijoada: Brazil’s national dish is a beef stew with pork and beans. It’s also very popular in Portugal where it originated. The name comes from feijão, Portuguese for bean. It is usually served with rice and there are regional variations, but they will generally feature the three main ingredients. It’s very time consuming to make, but very tasty and inexpensive. You can also find it in most Brazilian restaurants.
Guaraná: Paullinia cupana, is an Amazonian plant, part of the maple family, with fruits similar to coffee beans famous for their stimulant and energising qualities (the fruit contains twice the caffeine of coffee). It is commonly used in beverages and syrups.
Most Brazilian shops sell Guaraná Antártica, a famous Brazilian soft-drink fruity, sweet and caffeine packed.
Garoto: A famous brand of Brazilian chocolate confectionery exported globally. Their bright yellow variety box with an assortment of different flavours (coconut, crunchy, nougat, etc) is pretty much Brazil’s version of the Cadbury Roses, as it’s closely linked to childhood memories.
Available at Brazilian shops in general, some will sell individual Garoto chocolates too.
Hearts of palm: A white, tender food harvested from the heart of certain palm trees including coconut and acai. Also known as palmito, it usually comes preserved in cans or jars and it’s used in salads, normally served cold. It goes very well with avocados.
Find it in Brazilian shops, and other international shops across Dublin.
Ice cream from exotic fruits: Since exporting fresh exotic fruits is often difficult and expensive, ice creams and sorbets are a very delicious way to taste some unusual flavours. Fruits like maracujá (passion fruit), acai berries, litchies and pitangas make irresistible desserts.
You can find vegan Acai berry ice cream in the frozen section of Brasileiro, on Capel St.
Juice concentrates: Another great way to get very unusual picks for your five a day is to get the frozen polpa of Brazilian fruits. Try guava, maracujá, acerola or graviola. They are not only great for making juices, you can used them to make syrups and many unreal desserts.
Most Brazilian shops will have a few options in their freezers.
Kibbeh: This dish of Lebanese origin is extremely popular in Brazil, where it’s a ubiquitous street food and a popular snack. Brazilian kibbeh is not vegetarian, as it’s often made with very lean ground beef and it’s rarely baked, more commonly fried and served very hot.
You might find it in the shops and restaurant’s hot counter, right next to the coxinhas.
Linguica sausage: It’s a smoke cured pork sausage seasoned with paprika and garlic and you can find it pre-cooked or dried. It’s often chopped and added to feijoada, or grilled on skewers as part of a churrasco. It’s delicious for hot dogs or grilled, chopped and shared as an appetiser. Find it in the meat fridge, along with some other tasty Brazilian sausages.
Mandioca: Also known as cassava, Manihot esculenta, it’s a starchy tuberous root. It can be boiled and added to soups, served with meat or fried as chips. For this, you need to peel it, boil it, cut it into batons and deep fry it. You can make the boiled batons and freeze them.
Find raw mandioca on international shops on Moore Street, or get frozen mandioca chips at Brazilian shops.
Nido Powdered Milk: A very popular brand of powdered milk, by Nestlé. Originally an ideal solution for remote areas where fresh milk distribution would be impractical, it became so popular that it’s sought after as it’s great for extra rich milkshakes and some baked goods.
Find it in Brazilian and other international shops in Dublin.
Okra: Originally from Africa, it’s a very common vegetable in many tropical cuisines including Brazilian, but also Cajun, Caribbean and Creole. It’s mild flavoured and great for stir fries and soups. It’s very healthy as well, rich in fiber and Vitamin C and low on calories.
Find fresh okra in international and African shops in Moore street.
Pão de queijo: The name is Portuguese for cheese bread. It’s a small baked cheese roll, made with mandioca (cassava) flour and grated Parmesan cheese. It has eggs and milk, and it grows to a puffy texture when baked.
You will find it as a starter in almost every Brazilian restaurant’s menu, but you can also make it at home from scratch, frozen or using a premix.
Pastel: Similar to pasties or empanadas, these are very tasty and inexpensive street foods. They are made of different fillings such as cheese, chicken or beef, inside a thin rectangle of dough that’s sealed, deep fried and best enjoyed hot.
They tend to be kept near the coxinhas in Brazilian shops but you can also get the frozen dough and fill them at home.
Picanha: One of the most popular cuts of meat in Brazil. It’s also known as beef rump cap. When cooking it, the fat is kept with the cut and it’s removed after it’s done, which helps get an extra flavourful result. Picanha can be part of a churrasco or served with chips or rice and a side salad. It’s a very common lunch special, available in most Brazilian restaurants. Raw picanha is on the meat fridge of the shops.
Quince jelly: A sweet and thick preserve made from quince or marmelos. It’s also very popular in Spain and Portugal, and it’s excellent served with strong cheeses and crackers as its delicate sweetness and rich texture complements cheese perfectly.
Find it in Brazilian shops, but also in Spanish shops and some international gourmet food stores.
Repolho Refogado: It’s a cooked cabbage recipe that combines the finely chopped vegetable with onion, garlic and sometimes other vegetables such as carrots or tomatoes. Everything is stir fried for a few minutes, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and served warm.
The ingredients are widely available at Irish supermarkets and shops.
Sequilhos: A very light cornflour biscuit (gluten free by the way) made with butter, eggs, caster sugar, condensed milk and cornflour. The result is a pale, soft and delicate cookie. They’re usually round shaped and plain flavoured although they’re nice partially covered in chocolate.
You can find a mass produced version in Brazilian shops or make them at home.
Tapioca: A starch obtained from the mandioca (cassava) root. You can find it powdered or in the shape of pearls and it’s used as a thickening agent for soups, sauces and creams. In Asia, the pearls are flavoured and added to bubble tea, in Brazil, they are added to sauces to add flavour and texture.
Find them at Brazilian and Asian shops.
Uva Fanta: A grape-flavoured soft drink that is dark purple and very sweet. For some, an acquired taste, for others a childhood treat, but in general, a very popular mineral in Brazil, where Fanta comes in other flavours such as citrus, morango, orange, maça and orange/tangerine.
Found in Brazilian shops.
Velho Barreiro: One of the most famous cachaças, made in the country side of Sao Paulo in an area called Rio Claro, known for its top quality sugarcane. This is a rare find outside the country, as only a small percentage is exported. It’s a perfect cachaça for caipirinhas.
It’s available at the Celtic Whiskey Shop.
Wine: Although Brazil’s tropical location would make it traditionally unsuitable for fine wines, the altitude in certain areas, mostly to the south of the country (bordering with winemaking countries Argentina and Uruguay) allows to break the rule.
Very hard to find in Ireland, we spotted a bottle in the wine list of Rio Rodízio, Ranelagh (Rio Sol, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend).
Xerém: A dish that has many variations, and that features a thick rich sauce and a ground corn base (similar to a polenta bed), vegetables and a protein (pork, beef or chicken are common but some people use seafood). The dish is also popular in Portugal and parts of Africa.
Most ingredients are available in Irish supermarkets, and the ground corn can be found in Brazilian shops.
Yoki: It’s a brand owned by General Mills, especialised in Brazilian ingredients. They make over 20 different products and are famous for their Pão de queijo premix, corn farofa, prepacked snacks and other convenience driven food products and mixes.
Several Yoki products are available in Brazilian shops, some of them are needed for several recipes.
Zaeli: A Brazilian food brand that offers numerous everyday ingredients such as oils, dips, packed dried beans, flours, sweets, snacks and more. Their packed dried goods and bottled condiments are great for cooking real Brazilian food at home.
Find them in Brazilian shops.
Now that you graduated from Brazilian Yummyness 101, discover some restaurants, cafés and shops where you can enjoy these foods or find the ingredients to cook at home.
Rio Rodízio: Ireland’s first churrascaria or Brazilian BBQ, located in Ranelagh, offers a fantastic meat experience: you can serve from their salad and salsas bar as much as you wish, and then as you’re sitting, you’ll be given a card that’s green on one side and red on the other. Keep the green side up to tell the staff you are not finished yet.
You’ll be approached with as many rounds of different -100% Irish- meat cuts as you can endure: Pork sausage, lamb, beef rump cap, beef flank, pork ribs, chicken breast and more. Every round, you help yourself to a portion and as you finish it, the next wave is on its way. Once you are satisfied, you flip the card and leave the red side up.
Dinner at Rio Rodizio is served at a fixed price of €29.50 (lunch and mid-week specials are offered at a lower price).
Taste of Brazil: Located in Parliament Street, Temple Bar. The place is under new management and they recently updated the menu, which is a selection of the most popular traditional Brazilian dishes.
Among their appetisers, favourites include pão de queijo (cheese bread), kibbe and coxinhas. Mains feature bife a cavalo and feijoada. The place also offers some authentic desserts such as mousse de maracuja (passion fruit mousse) and brigadeiro (a truffle-like Brazilian confection).
Mains range between €10 and €15.
Pulidos Bakery: Dublin’s first Brazilian bakery is located on Bolton Street in city centre. The place feels more like a cozy cafe, with breakfast (both Irish and Brazilian, plus several pastries), lunch (sandwiches, rolls, picanha), snacks (coxinhas, pasteles, kibbeh) and brunch.
They also have a wide selection of homemade Brazilian style cakes and sweets, including pão de mel, fatia de bolo, coconut cake, chocolate cake, brigadeiros, pastel de nata and more.
Sandwiches and rolls are around €5, lunch and brunch between €10 to €15 and cakes between €1.50 and €3.50.
Three Spirits Bar & Grill: A Brazilian restaurant and bar on Capel Street, with both self-serve buffet and a la carte options. They offer an all-you can eat lunch for €9.50 (includes a soft drink) and some main courses like picanha, steak, lamb chops, parmigiana, fish and chips and pizza. Mains range from €7 to €12.
They also have snacks (coxinhas, nachos, chicken wings and a sharing platter) and serve beers on draft and caipirinhas.
Banana Grill: A casual restaurant in Temple Bar with a combination of fast food, pizza, international dishes and some Brazilian specialities.
On Sundays they offer an all-you-can-eat BBQ (€15.95) and all week long they serve picanha (€9.95).
They also have some Brazilian style homemade cakes and coxinhas.
The Mezz: Better known as a place to listen to bands and have a drink or two in temple Bar, The Mezz has a Brazilian buffet at lunch time which includes feijoada, chicken, stew and salads.
At only €6.50 per serving, it’s very popular with students.
Located on Capel Street, it features a wide selection of Brazilian ambient products, plus chilled and frozen goods.
They have a good selection of Brazilian meat cuts for BBQ.
Located on Capel Street.
It has a large mix of imported ingredients, including meat, frozen foods, soft drinks and confectionery.
Located in Moore Street Mall, it’s a small shop but very well stocked.
They feature imported goods, chilled and frozen items, and they have some homemade treats.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.