You had me at Coconut: A Guide to Eating in Bahia

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Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

You had me at Coconut: A Guide to Eating in Bahia Salvador da Bahia Reviews

worldcitizen worldcit…
84 reviews
Nov 05, 2006
In addition to the typical Brazilian fare, Bahia has it's own unique cuisine that is very much influenced by its location and West African history. Bahian cuisine is tropical, rich, spicy, and beachy. Common ingredients are seafood, dende (palm) oil, coconut, manioc (cassava or yuca), ginger and chili pepper.



Acaraje is a very popular snack in Salvador that is still eaten today in West Africa. It is sold by Baianas de Acaraje dressed in white traditional candomble attire and you will see them all over town. It is made from mashed black eyed peas which have been rolled into a ball and deep fried in dende oil. The Baianas cut it in half and you can put a variety of condiments inside.

Queijo na brasa:

This is like a cheese kebab grilled on coals. You can find it on the beach and at night in Pelourinho. Some vendors have carts, but most walk around with a large tupperware container full of cheese and a pail of hot coals. When someone orders, the vendor heats it up the (salty) cheese on a stick on the grill. He'll then roll it in some oregano and garlic and voila, queijo na brasa.


This is simple but tasty food to try at a soccer game. Once you are inside the stadium, you purchase food and drink tickets before you head over the kiosks. The locals usually roll their kebabs in a bowl of manioc flour that the vendor provides.


These are like the empanadas you'll find in other Latin American countries, pastry-like snacks filled with cheese or meat.



There may be a more official name for it, but I always referred to it as pimenta which means "pepper". This is like salsa and it adds a lot of flavor and spice to a simple meal. Take only a little at first to be sure your tongue can handle it!


This is toasted manioc flour that Brazilians get really excited about and seem to put on everything, especially meats and stews.


A sauce made with shrimp, coconut milk, and bread and usually eaten with acaraje.


A sauce made with okra, nuts, and shrimp and usually eaten with acaraje.


Pao de Queijo:

These are delicious little cheese puffs that are eaten all over Brazil. The dough is made with manioc starch and filled with cheese that melts inside when it bakes. These are eaten at breakfast and they are also typical appetizers at churrascarias. Be careful, they are addictive!


This is an Afro-Brazilian stew made with coconut milk, tomatoes and dende oil. Usually it is made with fish (peixe) but you can get it with a variety of seafood. I liked it best with shrimp (camarao). On the menu it seems expensive, but it is usually meant to be shared. It comes in a clay pot with rice and manioc flour on the side.

Bobo de Camarao:

This is a shrimp stew made with cassava root, coconut milk, dende oil and ginger and served in a clay pot and eaten with rice. It's like moqueca, but thicker.



These are soft chewy caramel-like chocolate treats that are rolled in chocolate sprinkles. These taste best when they are made with love.


I had coconut sweets in various forms described as cocada. But the ones that were the most common, most tasty, and probably the least healthy were the ones the Baianas sell at their stalls alongside the acaraje. They are circular and flat and they come in different flavors that are some shade of white or brown.

Ice Cream:

There are many shops that sell interesting and tropical flavors of ice cream that you won't find in other places. Also in some parts of Bahia, they have self-serve ice cream where they charge by wieght.

Acai na tigela:

I bought this from a vendor in Morro de Sao Paulo. It is crushed frozen Acai berries topped with granola. It's kind of like sorbet.

There are many other things I tried at the volunteer house and at restaurants, but I don't know the names of all of them. If you're open, you'll stumble accross some interesting flavors. "Cardapio" is the word for menu, and it's a good word to know because I often found myself having to ask for the menu at restaurants. Waiters won't always bring it to you or bring enough for your group. Also, the Lonely Planet Brazilian Portuguese phrasebook has a very helpful food glossary section with descriptions of some Brazilian dishes. It's small and discreet and it came in very handy at restaurants!
Pizza, Chicken & Company
Queijo na Brasa vendor
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