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The toasted manioc flour mixture used in traditional Brazilian cuisine is known as farofa. The dish varies in consistency and ingredients by region. Farofa is commonly consumed in South America as well as West Africa.
Though it is traditionally prepared with a mixture of flour, farofa has other variations. Sometimes the mixture is blended from maize flour. Because of these variations, the flavor and texture can also vary. Also known as farinha de mandioca, the mixture is sometimes made into a gourmet meal with the addition of nuts, bacon, bananas, olives, or whatever else the cook prefers to include.
Manioc is known to many in the Western world as yuca. When powdered into this floury combination, it is typically served as a side dish. The texture of these Brazilian dishes can range from course to very fine. Some compare it to the chunky consistency of couscous, while others may be as powdery and finely cut as table salt.
Farofa can be found in Brazilian stores as well as international supermarkets. The flour mixture can also be simply made at home, using ingredients such as flour, butter, onions, and meats or vegetables. Beans or fruit are also common additives in farofa dishes. Stuffed foods, such as poultry dishes, are often prepared with this yuca mixture. The Brazilian stew known as feijoada is usually made with the ingredient.
Most of these flour mixtures are known to have a salty, smoky flavor, though this taste varies by region. In Nigeria and Brazil, the dish is more commonly known as gari. Gari, however, is made from whole cassava tubers. Also known as Garri or tapioca, this fermented mixture is commonly used to prepare deep-fried dishes as well as snack foods.
Another similar dish is known as farinha. This food is coarser, often with a grainy consistency. Instead of being mixed with meats, vegetables, or fruits, farinha is usually sprinkled on top of other foods, such as meat or rice. Some people, however, also use farofa as a condiment, garnishing other foods with the substance.
In addition to its use in terms of Brazilian dishes, farofa is used in other ways in the country. Brazilians use the word as a slang term to refer to a cheap day trip to the beach. This is due to the fact that many low income families who visit the beach bring farofa as a main component of their picnic meal.
I always keep a sack of farofa in my cupboard. I don't use it very often, but when I am looking for a certain flavor and consistency sometimes farfoa is the only thing that can do the job. Its given a boost to many of my meals.
Sometimes I will use it in place of other kinds of flours and other times I will just make simple cakes out of it like pancakes or corn cakes. I love the smoky flavor. It gives a deep and rich flavor to anything I add it to.
I have ruined a couple of dishes by adding farofa so be sure you know what you are doing before you go dumping it into things all willy nilly. It is an unusual flavor to be sure but a delicious one once you come to like it.
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