Ceia de Natal, or Christmas dinner in Brazil, is an ideal time to rejoice in celebration and lively festivities with your loved ones. It is also a very important family tradition in Brazil.
This special time is dedicated to gathering the entire family together to celebrate over some delicious food and merriment. Traditionally this festive dinner begins late at night on Christmas Eve and the eating and drinking will last until the morning hours on Christmas Day.
The best part about this holiday dinner is the delicious Brazilian Christmas food that is specially prepared for this occasion. From an array of fresh side dishes to mouthwatering Brazilian desserts this feast is one you won’t want to miss out on.
Keep reading to learn about the top traditional dishes from Brazil on this merry holiday!
The Merry Main Course
In Brazil, Christmas dinner is filled with a variety of food and things to munch on. This traditional style feast is laid out as a full spread for all to enjoy.
The centerpiece of the Brazilian Christmas meal is typically poultry, bacalhau or occasionally different meat from the region such as beef that is served with white rice.
The poultry served on Christmas Eve isn’t your standard turkey or chicken but a genetically altered “super chicken” called the Chester. Brazilians love it because it has more meat than a standard chicken and costs less then a turkey comparatively speaking.
Bacalhau is a codfish that is dried and salted and is often accompanied by eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers, and olives. Although there are many different versions of this recipe, you often find the fish rolled into bite-size pieces and deep fried in to balls called Bolinhos de Bacalhau.
Festive Side Dishes
Since Christmas takes place during the summer in Brazil, the side dishes are curated with the strong summer heat in mind and typically consist of cooling foods. The main course is often paired with green salads, mixed nuts, dried fruits, and an array of meats and cheeses.
Instead of the American classic roast potatoes, Brazilian Christmas dinner includes a cold potato salad called maionese that usually contains apples and raisins.
Like almost all Brazilian dishes, rice is a staple side of this meal as well. The rice is often boiled, after being fried with garlic.
You may also find farofa, a seasoned fried manioc flour. The table will most likely contain some various tropical fruits in season including pineapple, bananas, and mangoes.
The mix of flavors from such a wide variety of things to eat makes for a full night of indulging in this traditional meal.
Dessert is many peoples favorite part of traditional Brazilian Christmas food.
Rabanada is the most widely loved staple of the dessert menu for a traditional Ceia de Natal. Rabanada itself means “gust of wind” and this pastry like dessert is very similar to deep fried French toast with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.
Another beloved dessert you may find as a part of this tradition is the simple and sweet panettone. Panettone is a loaf of Italian sweet bread often baked with dried fruit or chocolate.
There are many companies that make this popular Christmas dessert. But far and away the best selling brand of panettone is Bauducco. Their Chocottone panettone which is filled with Hershey chocolates and their classic Bauducco panettone filled with Sun Maid raisins signify to all that Christmas is here.
As in most cultures, Brazilian coffee is served and enjoyed with all these traditional Christmas desserts, one seemingly more delicious then the next.
And of course, this meal wouldn’t be complete without some after dinner libations. Cold beer and whiskey are the most common drinks for festive cheer.
Brazilian Christmas Dinner
Now you know the many edible culinary traditions that make Brazilian Christmas food such a special occasion. Consider making some of these traditional dishes for your family’s next Christmas feast. Wishing you and your family Feliz Natal!
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