Natal, capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on Brazil’s north-eastern tip is known for its extensive coastal sand dunes. But it is not only a destination that boasts incredible landscapes, sensational beaches, and exuberant natural beauty. Local cuisine is an attraction itself, combining lots of different flavors.
The main ingredients for local recipes include sun-dried beef, shrimp, fish, cassava, black-eyed peas, arroz de leite (milk rice, a savory side dish that resembles a porridge), and tapioca (starch extracted from cassava roots).
Sun-dried beef is present in several dishes in the northeast region. In Natal, for example, you can try it in dishes such as Paçoca de carne de sol, a mixture of toasted cassava flour, shredded sun-dried beef, onions, and garlic. Or you can try Escondidinho, a traditional local casserole made with mashed potatoes or cassava roots, which totally cover the sundried beef and a layer of queijo coalho (Brazilian curd cheese) gratin, literally hiding the meat, hence the name. Escondidinho can also be made with other types of meat, such as carne seca (jerked beef), shredded chicken, and shrimp.
As far as seafood goes, shrimp is the one that stands out in the region, so much that there is an annual shrimp festival in the city in the month of November. No wonder the people born in Rio Grande do Norte are known as Potiguares, which means “shrimp eaters” in the local tupi-guarani language. There are countless shrimp dishes in local restaurants. But make sure you try some Bobó de Camarão, a shrimp chowder dish made with mashed cassava, fresh shrimp, palm oil and ginger.
Another dish that is very popular in local restaurants is the caranguejada, a crab stew that is definitely worth a try! Tapioca crepes as well as ice cream and popsicles made with local fruit are also favorites among visitors and residents alike.
Speaking of fruit, the region is also renowned for being home to the world’s largest cashew tree! The giant tree is located on Pirangi do Norte Beach, in the municipality of Parnamirim, only 12 km south of Natal. Visitors can pick some cashew apples straight from the tree and try them. It is one of the most visited spots by tourists in Natal.
The city has everything that any visitor could ask for, including its exquisite local cuisine. It’s the perfect balance between amazing tours and unforgettable flavors.
Natal is a complete destination for those who are looking for a hearty and extremely tasty culinary experience! It is the best combination of amazing tours and unforgettable flavors.