Brazil’s rich and varied cuisine is a reflection of its native and immigrant population and long history of colonialism and slavery. Many European nations including Portugal, Spain, Netherlands and France at one point colonized a portion of Brazil. Slavery became such a huge business, that by 1888, almost 40% of all the African slaves brought to the new world were in Brazil. The indigenous people of Brazil had many trials and tribulations as well. Nearly faced with extinction from new diseases brought over from Europe, they were also enslaved with the Africans under colonial leaders.
This mixture of cultures and people from Europe and Africa influenced the flavors of Brazil’s delicious cuisine. One of the most popular spice blends found in kitchens all over Brazil is called Tempero Baiano. Originating in the African-influenced province of Bahia, this spice blend has bold, earthy and exotic flavors that add zest to seafood, meats, vegetables, stews and many traditional Brazilian recipes. Below is a recipe for Tempero Baiano along with creative uses and Brazilian dishes you can make at home to add these delicious, rich flavors of South America to your everyday cooking.
Brazilian Tempero Baiano Spice Mix Recipe
3t dried parsley
3/4t red chile flakes
2t dried oregano
1t ground nutmeg
1t ground tumeric
1/2 t ground bay leaf
2t dried basil
3/4t white pepper
3/4t black pepper
Combine the spices and store for up to 6 months in an air tight container when not in use.
Ways to Use the Spice Blend
Add Tempero Baiano to the items below add a taste of Brazil to your meals:
Diced Roasted Potatoes: Dice up potatoes into a bowl. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with Tempero Baiano spice mix and salt and stir mixture until all the potato pieces are covered. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 475F for 20 -25 minutes (depending on how small your potato cubes are) until golden brown. Turn occasionally while cooking to ensure all sides of potato are roasted.
Season Grilled Vegetables: Slice a variety of vegetables to prepare to be grilled (red peppers, onions, squashes, etc.) Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with Tempero Baiano spice mix. Grill to taste.
Meat or Fish Rub: Rub Tempero Baiano spice mix on steak, pork tenderloin, or fish filet for a delicious flavor.
Spice Up Traditional Brazilian Recipes with Tempero Baiano
Feijoada – This traditional black bean & meat stew is a hearty meal loved by Brazilians. It is commonly served as a Saturday or Sunday meal enjoyed with the whole family. Below are just a few recipes found on the web for feijoada. Add a few teaspoons of your Tempero Baiano spice mix to the recipes to enhance the earthy flavors of the dish.
Moqueca – This is a traditional fish stew recipe with coconut milk that is also from the province of Bahia. Coconut milk is a wonderful pair to Tempero Baiano spices as it helps “cool” the heat of the spice mix. Below are a few moqueca recipes where a few teaspoons of Tempero Baiano can be added to additional flavor.
Travel Tales from Brazil
On our last night in Rio we went to one of Brazil’s famous churrasco restaurants to experience a true Brazilian BBQ. The spot we picked on the Copacabana was brightly lit and filled with communal tables and lively music. The instant we sat down, food started pouring out of the kitchen. Smiling waiters carried skewer after skewer of barbecued meats – from pork loin to skirt steaks, chicken hearts, to side rumps. The more we ate, the more they served. If I’d refuse a piece, the kind waiter would give me a little wink, and just cut a smaller slice instead. 45 minutes into our experience, the meat skewers were replaced by fish. I was filled to the rim, and could not manage to eat another bite but managed to try just a morsel. As we looked around the room, completely stuffed, we laughed at the indulgent experience. The meal embodied the feeling we had experienced on our visit. The lively atmosphere of the restaurant, the smiling waiters and the spectacular meal presentation reminded us of the lively atmosphere on the streets of Rio, the friendly locals we met and the spectacular views we experienced. Definitely both experiences are not to be missed when visiting Rio de Janeiro.