Brazilian cuisine has developed through an array of cultural inheritances due to the leading role that immigration has played in the country’s history. With every new wave of immigrants, a new flavour or dish was added to Brazil’s culinary menu. For instance, European immigrants, whose diet was primarily based on wheat, brought with them wine, leaf vegetables and dairy products. The Portuguese, who arrived in the 1500’s, brought sugar and citrus fruits, two ingredients that became central to many Brazilian desserts.
Each region in Brazil has its own unique personality when it comes to food as a result of the extensive melting pot of cultures that have settled in each part. This reflects the pivotal influence of native and immigrant populations in the development of the country’s culinary history. Despite this variation, there are certain staple dishes and ingredients that are found in almost every region. As Brazil’s tropical climate allows for the production of a variety of exotic fruits and fresh vegetables, their recipes almost always consist of root vegetables such as cassava and fruits such as mango, papaya or guava for dessert. Because of its diverse heritage, these fresh ingredients are often complemented with fiery spices to produce delicious and innovative dishes.
Traditional Brazilian food makes use of the land’s native ingredients such as beans, rice, root vegetables and most significantly, tapioca flour. The universal role that this ingredient plays in many Brazilian dishes can be likened to that of rice in Japan or bread in France. Pao de Queijo is a popular Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca flour. Brazilians sometimes eat them for breakfast and they are often sold as street food. What makes these cheese balls particularly distinctive is their chewy and moist centre.
Here is a simple and authentic recipe for Pao de Queijo
3 cup of olive oil
2/3 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of grated cheese
1 teaspoon of salt
1. Preheat oven on gas mark 5
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth
3. Pour mixture into mini-muffin tins
4. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown
These are perfect for a light starter or snack and are very versatile as you can sprinkle your favourite spice into the mix. The great thing about this recipe is you can make as much mixture as you want to experiment with different flavours. When cooked, you can store any leftovers in the freezer.
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