Cuisine of Bahia

Salvador Street Food

To the delight of visitors on Brazil tours, Bahia offers an interesting cuisine of African, Portuguese and Caribbean origins, reflecting the region’s rich cultural history. There are two central themes; fish from Brazil’s northern coast, and the distinctively orange, spicy palm nut oil, “azeite de dendi,” from the trees that grow along the coasts of Brazil and West Africa. 
One of the region’s most popular dishes is a savory porridge called Vatapa, a spicy shrimp amalgam seasoned with two of the region’s other signature ingredients, coconut and garlic. Vatapa may be stuffed in acaraje, another Bahian staple. Acaraje is a popular bread made from mashed black-eyed or brown peas that is rolled into a ball and deep-fried in dendi. The acaraje is split and the vatapa stuffed inside. The vatapa-acaraje combo is a popular menu item of the Baianas (street vendors) in traditional headdress and white dress, especially in Salvador, and is a traditional Candomble dish, considered a symbolic religious offering. It’s an exotic fast food to visitors on Brazil tours. A side salad of chopped tomatoes often accompanies acaraje. The fearless may wish to add pimenta, a mighty spicy hot sauce. Acaraje boiled in a banana leaf instead of deep-fried is called abara. People in the know say the best acaraje in Brazil is to be found north of Salvador at Itapoa. 

Caruru is a stew comprised of quiabo (okra), onion, sundried shrimp and dendi with roasted peanuts or cashews or both. Moqueca is a Brazilian fish stew of white fish with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, pimento and garlic that is cooked slowly in a clay pot. In Bahia, the dish usually also contains shrimp or crab, coconut milk and dendi. Adding mashed manioc root makes it a bobo.  Bacalhau, salted cod, is found in many Bahian dishes such as bolinho, a fritter that is served as an appetizer.
In addition to all the seafood offerings, visitors to Bahia during their Brazil travel will also find typical lunches of chicken (called frango) or beef (called carne and when sliced, referred to as bife), served with beans, rice and a small salad. 
Two of Southern Explorations Brazil tours visit Bahia, nine-day Bahia Rhythms & Beaches and thirteen-day Bahia Rhythms, Canyons & Beaches trips.