In this week’s ‘Exploring International Cuisines’ article, discover the Brazilian kitchen with us! In a country that big, each region favours a specific type of food and spices. From rice and beans to barbecues on Sunday's, Brazil has a variety of special dishes to offer and to explore and it is worth getting to know the country’s cuisine a bit better! Guilherme Fiegueiredo is a 20-year-old Leisure and Events Management student from Brazil and shares his love about his favourite dish ‘Carne de Panela’. The dish is a tasty combination of potatoes and meat, supported by onions, spices and tomato sauce. It is a flavourful recipe relished in Brazil and often enjoyed with some rice and beans next to it.

Two Cultures Combined

Growing up, Gui not only enjoyed the influence of the Brazilian, but also the Italian cuisine. Since there has been a big immigration in the 40s and 50s during which Italians immigrated to Brazil, Italian food established itself in many Brazilian families over the decades. As his grandparents lived in the same building as him, Gui was able to enjoy delicious Italian courses, cooked by his Italian grandparents. Compared to rice balls and lasagne, the Brazilian cuisine only rarely came to light in the household. Except for the Carne de Panela! Every one or two weeks, his mom would cook it for the family. “It is the food that tastes more like home to me “. Every time Gui goes back to Brazil in his school breaks, his mom surprises him with the dish and it feels like he has never left in the first place.

A Dish Connected to Many Emotions

Even though Gui tried cooking the dish by himself in the Netherlands, it wasn’t nearly as good as when his mom made it for him. “Brazilian food has a particular taste. I cook rice and beans every day, but it’s not the same.”. Despite knowing the recipe and ingredients, it still doesn’t have the same effect on him. The beans in Brazil are from scratch and the secret to getting the special flavour out of the dish is by utilizing a pressure cooker. Both things are missing in the place Gui calls a second home.
It is difficult to get the dish to reach that particular taste and it can be frustrating when not being in one’s home country.

In Brazil, a lot of affection goes into the cooking process and the people have an emotional connection to their food. That is exactly what Gui is missing the most. As food has always had been an important factor in his family, he gets emotional when eating Brazilian food by himself and longs to be connected with his family during lonely times.

The Taste of Home

However, the yearning and desire for good quality Brazilian food was fulfilled when Gui discovered a small Brazilian restaurant in the city of Antwerp. His mom was visiting him by that time and they both gave the diner, owned by a friendly mother-daughter duo, a chance. It was the very first time a restaurant in Europe was able to make the food taste like home. Gui was overwhelmed by the emotions and memories that he connected the meal on his plate with. He promised himself to cook Brazilian dishes more often and to try out new recipes once he will be back in Brazil, to be able to cook his favourite dishes in the Netherlands as well.

If you are now curious how to prepare the special dish that Gui has been talking about, check out this recipe and create the delicious Carne de Panela yourself! Usually, a pressure cooker is used during the cooking process, but since that is not present in every student house, the stovetop version can be an alternative.

All you need is:
  • Chuck meat
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion and 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika spice
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 4 cups of water or broth
  1. Cut the chuck meat into pieces and season them with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat up olive oil in a large pot and add the beef. Let it sauté a little bit and then add the onion and garlic to it.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and add the herbs and spices, as well as water to the pot.
  4. Cover it with a lid and let it cook on medium heat for at least 1 hour.
  5. Now the potatoes can be added, and everything will be cooked, until the potatoes are tender.

Just like Gui loves it best, add a little bit of rice and beans to it and enjoy the lovely Brazilian dish!