To speak of Bahia without mentioning its cuisine is impossible. The cuisine is one of the most authentic expressions of identity for the Bahian people. It is marked by a large variety of dishes and by its predominant African influence. The slaves that came from Angola, Mozambique, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Congo brought seasoning and exotic condiments that give the Bahian cuisine a special touch. Beyond its African influence, we also find a significant Portuguese and Indigenous influence in the cooking. But still we retain the dishes that were engendered in the slave headquarters, made from the remains of the animal slaughter that the slave owners passed down. The result of all this is a unique melting pot, flavorous ingredients, spices and creativity generating this enormous variety of unique foods.


typical dishes


The most flavorous and widely known dishes are: fish or seafood moqueca, shrimp bobó, chicken xinxim, casquinha de siri, hauçá rice, quiabada, carne do sol com pirão, feijoada,rabada, mocotó and sarapatel.

But don’t worry, if you don’t want any of this, it is possible to find restaurants in Salvador that offer good food from other Brazilian states. Amongst the most commonly recognized there is "sertaneja" food, typical of the semi-arid region in the Northeast of Brazil where the specialties are dried meat, like "carne do sol" and goat, and "aipim", the comestible manioc root, prepared like mashed potatoes or fried in oil. There are also restaurants that offer the cuisine from Minas Gerais, with special cheeses, pork meet and "tutu a mineira". Others offer the food from Rio Grande do Sul, especially the "churrasco" or barbecue. In the good barbecue restaurants you can eat grilled meat with the "rodízio" system, where you can eat for a fix price whatever amount of meat and salads that you want or that you can handle!

If, with all this, you still aren't satisfied, then there still are many elegant international restaurants offering Italian, French, Japanese, Mediterranean food, amongst others.


Back to a dish that is authentically Bahian, "moqueca" can be prepared with fish or seafood like shrimp, lobster, oysters, squid, octopus, or others (click here to see other recipes). It has basic ingredients like coconut milk and African palm oil. Otherwise known as "dendê", this is a vegetable oil extracted from tiny nuts from palm trees found in abundance in this region. Another spice that you can’t leave out in "moqueca" is coriander or cilantro. For those who aren't accustomed to African palm oil and prefer a lighter dish, there is also "ensopada" that uses the same ingredients except the oil. To complete the feast, "vatapá" or "caruru", two important representatives of African cuisine normally accompany the moqueca. Vatapá is a type of purée made with dried shrimp, peanuts, cashew, bread, African palm oil, coconut milk, and spices (click here to see a recipe). Caruru is made with okra - a legume that is also used commonly in Africa - dried shrimp and African palm oil (click here to see a recipe).

Whoever comes to Salvador cannot go without trying the famous and well-liked "acarajé", found on city corners being sold usually by female vendors referred to as "Bahianas". It's a little ball made from the dough of black-eyed peas, fried in African palm oil, and should be eaten immediately, hot and crispy. Acarajé has a twin brother called "abará", another little ball made with the same ingredients, but this one is wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled in water. Both can be tasty by themselves, however Bahianas offer caruru, vatapá, shrimp, and a little hot pepper sauce to accompany.

The following are some short descriptions or complete recipes for delicious Bahian food:

Shrimp Moqueca


1 kg of shrimp

2 garlic cloves

4 tomatoes, chopped

2 large onions, chopped

1 small bell pepper, chopped

2 sprigs of cilantro, minced

juice of 2 limes

4 cups of thick coconut milk

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of African palm oil

teaspoon of salt


Shell the shrimp, clean well and rinse with water and lime juice. Mince the garlic, the teaspoon of salt and cilantro and season the shrimp, letting them sit in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour. Mince all the spices and divide into two parts. With one part, season the shrimp and and put them in a deep cooking pot, together with coconut milk, stirring without stop until it comes to a boil. Add more olive oil and the rest of the seasoning and let boil. Finally, add in the African palm oil and leave for two minutes. Serve with "pirão", white rice and "farofa de dendê".

Fish Moqueca


1 kg of fish

3 tomatoes, chopped

2 onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 handful of cilantro

thick milk from 2 coconuts

4 soup spoons of olive oil

2 soup spoons of African palm oil

Seasoning for the Fish:

2 garlic cloves

juice from 1 lime

1 tablespoon of salt

2 twigs of cilantro


Marinate the fish in the lime juice with the seasoning for at least one hour. Mince the garlic and cilantro, add the salt and divide this into two parts. Mix the first part with the fish and place in a covered pan. Add the coconut milk and stir constantly so as not to scald the milk. Put on medium heat for at least 15 minutes together with the other seasoning. Serve with white rice and "farofa".

Chicken Xinxim

A stew from chicken with shrimp and African palm oil.


A dish made with pig intestines and coagulated blood.

Shrimp Bobó

Ingredients for the "Aipim" mash:

1 kg of aipim skinned and grated

Milk from one coconut and a half

1 kg of chopped onions

1 kg of ripe tomatoes

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 handful of cilantro, minced

500 ml of olive oil

Other Ingredients:

1 kg of big shrimp, shelled and cleaned

1 clove of garlic, minced

¾ of a tablespoon of salt

1 twig of cilantro

3 tomatoes, ripe and firm, chopped

3 onions minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

Milk from 2 coconuts

½ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons of African palm oil


Mince the seasoning for the aipim mash and add to the grated aipim. Put on high heat, adding a little oil and some of the coconut milk, stirring constantly so as not to burn at the bottom of the pot and not to scald the milk. Continue stirring for around 10 minutes. Add in the shrimp, the other spices, and the olive oil. Add the rest of the coconut milk and leave on the heat for 5 minutes. Continue to stir and add the aipim mash and leave for 5 more minutes. Before taking off the heat add the African palm oil. Serve piping hot with white rice.

Carne de Sol with Pirão

A specialty in restaurants from the desert region made with the famous "meat of the sun" (meat that is salted and dried in the sun) accompanied by a purée of aipim (the manioc root).


A dish made with a famous style of beans - an ingredient found everywhere on Bahian tables and throughout Brazil, originally prepared by slaves with bull intestines, leftover meat, and salted pork meat. Today this dish achieves the status of the "noble class" and is well-liked by all Brazilians, the poor as well as the rich.

Bolinho de tapioca

Called "quitute" or sweet, made with tapioca flour and coconut, fried in oil and then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon (also called "bolinho de estudante").


A candy made with coconut that can be with pineapple or peanuts; comes in a a wide variety of colours.

Hauçá Rice


½ kg of rice

4 cups of 250 ml of coconut milk

3 onions, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 kg of dried meat, cubed

1 cup of African palm oil

1 ½ kg of smoked shrimp

2 tablespoons of peanuts and cashews, roasted

½ tablespoon of ginger

Salt to taste


Desalt the dried meat. Rinse the rice thoroughly and cook with 1 liter of water with salt. When it has almost absorbed all the water add 2 cups of coconut milk and let that absorb. Mince the onion and sauté in olive oil, then add in the meat. Add a cup of water and cover. When it is dry, add two cups of coconut milk, bring to a boil and add the shrimp, leaving one cup of shrimp to soak the pepper. Let the coconut milk reduce, stirring constantly, add the African palm oil, stir and leave on the heat for 5 more minutes. Strain the rice in a round strainer with a pat of butter, and place it in a rounded plate. Around the rice, arrange the meat and shrimp.



100 okra

5 large onions, chopped

50 g of ginger

4 chopped tomatoes

1 bell pepper, chopped

250 g cashew nuts

250 g peanuts

2 kg shelled shrimp

1 cup African palm oil

Salt to taste


Rinse the okra,let dry before cutting to avoid "drooling". Cut the okra into four pieces lengthwise, keep the pieces together and cut into little wheels. Blend the spices in a blender. In a pan, put the African palm oil to heat and mix with the blended spices and okra. Blend half of the shrimp in the blender. When the okra softens, add the blended shrimp and the whole shrimp. Blend the peanuts and cashew nuts with half a cup of water mix into the pot. Add salt, stirring constantly up until the very end. Serve with white rice.



1 kg fresh beef

4 dozen okras

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 onions, chopped

2 medium bell peppers, chopped

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon tomato extract

1 teaspoon cumin

3 twigs of large mint leaves, chopped

3 twigs of fine mint leaves, chopped

3 twigs of cilantro, chopped

Stamp the seasoning, mix with the tomato extract and divide in two parts. meat is cooked. Fry the meat with a part of the seasoning for 5 minutes. Add slowly water until the meat is cooked. Cut the okras in rounds and add to the meat, at the same time add in the other part of the seasoning. Take off the heat when the okra is cooked. Serve with white rice.



1 kg shelled shrimp

1 ½ long loaves of French bread

250 g of peanuts

250 g cashews

3 cups of coconut milk, thick

50 g ginger

1 handful of cilantro

4 onions, chopped

1 cup of African palm oil

Salt to taste


Soak the bread with some of the coconut milk and let it soften. In a blender, mash the onion, ½ of the shrimp, peanuts, cashews, cilantro, salt, and ginger. Let sit. Put the bread in the blender. In a pot, mix the seasoning with the bread and put on the heat, stirring constantly. Add in the rest of the milk and keep stirring. Add the African palm oil and the rest of the shrimp. Take off the heat when the shrimp becomes loose. Serve with white rice, and shrimp or fish moqueca.


These recipes where taken from the book Tempero da Dadá.