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Gastronomy: A Taste of Amazon without leaving home

Learn about the Northern Brazilian culinary, with indigenous flavours that influence Top Chefs around the globe.

In recent years, Amazon’s cuisine has gotten the attention of the world’s food scene, with top chefs showcasing the region’s culture and native ingredients through TV shows and online books.

Celebrated Brazilian chef Alex Atala has experimented with local ingredients to bring different takes to traditional dishes and introduce new audiences to this unique gastronomy.

Atala refuses to import ingredients and scours the Amazon for indigenous produce to fuse with classical techniques in his cooking. He also works with Amazon’s native communities and small-scale producers to extend the availability of native products in the country.

Brazilian chef Ofir Oliveira, who lives in the Northern city of Belém, uses « manioc » (cassava) as the basis of his cuisine, along with arubé and tucupi, jambu and maniçoba.

Here are some of the region’s popular dishes:

Tacacá: A popular soup thas a tucupi base made with cassava broth and tapioca gum. Shrimps, jambu leaves, and cherry peppers are added to add flavour and heat.

Vatapá: It’s a traditional stew made with bread, shrimp, peanuts, coconut milk and palm oil. All the ingredients form a creamy paste.

Experience the Amazon’s incredible gastronomy from home: “Chef’s Table” (Season 2, Episode 2, Netflix): The entire espisode showcases the chef and founder of renowned restaurant D.O.M, Alex Atala, who is also the founder of the ATÁ Institute, an organization that promotes food diversity by bringing wild ingredients harvested by farmers in the Amazonas state. His cookbook (“ D.O.M: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients”, Amazon, $9.49) features 65 recipes such as Fresh Heart of Palm with Scallops and Coral Sauce; Lightly Toasted Black Rice with Green Vegetables and Brazilian Nut Milk; Lamb Hind Shanks with Yam Puree and Pitanga; and Priprioca, Lime, and Banana Ravioli.

No Reservations (Season 7, Episode 7, CNN, Amazon Prime, Itunes): Anthony Boudain visited the cities of Manaus and Belém, where he cooked with chef Ofir Oliveira, the founder of NGO “Instituto Sabor Selvagem”. The chef has worked for four decades towards the valorization, diffusion and rescue of Amazonian cuisine. He is recognized for using gastronomy as a means of raising awareness for the preservation of the environment.


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