Breakfast time! “Brazilian Couscous”

Although I’m living abroad for eleven years, I never let go of my traditions — who does it? Especially when it involves food

The Portuguese brought couscous from North Africa, but the dish’s ingredients changed upon arriving in Brazil. It’s not the same as the one you might know, that is made with Semolina.

The Brazilian couscous is made with cornmeal (with Tapioca as well). But it’s probably not the same cornmeal flour you may find in an Asian or African store, unless the store sells “Brazilian couscous flour”.

After it’s ready, it resembles Polenta cake, sort of. But still, it’s different. Here’s how it is cooked in the Northeast. Or even in my way as it can slightly vary from person to person.

  1. In a bowl, mix the “couscous flour” with water and salt. It’s tricky to say the right quantity of water. When you’re mixing, the goal is to be like wet/humid sand. The quantity will influence how dried or wet/consistent it will be after it’s cooked. After you mix, it’s good to leave resting for a while to soften the flour grains.
  2. In a special pan that is not easily found outside of Brazil, you put a bit of water in the bottom and add the couscous flour mixture on top. Not directly on top of the water — there is a metal, round “thing” that stays between the water and the flour. The flour goes on top of that “thing”.
  3. Then the water boils, and the vapour cooks the flour. It takes about fifteen minutes, and it leaves in a cake-like consistency. But it’s not called a cake. And some people actually like to “destroy” the “cake” and eat it in a flour-like consistency.

What can accompany the dish?

Well, that can vary as you imagine. I usually eat it as a savoury dish, and I like it with fried eggs and meat/bacon/sausage pieces. Anything tasty that is not healthy. People can eat with butter only or even as a sweet dish by adding sweetened coconut milk.

See the picture of a “loosely inspired Huevos rancheros”. But it’s not huevos rancheros! I repeat. It’s NOT huevos rancheros — I’m not James Oliver that keeps creating different versions of dishes that are nothing like the original one.

This is really my invention — it’s not common in Brazil. I ate it this morning, 15-May-2021. It’s not good-looking, but it was good!

Other variations of couscous

Before cooking, some people mix the flour with pieces of meat or cheese and cooks everything together. It looks good on theory, but I’m not a fan. I prefer the flour cooked on its own, alone.

It also has the Tapioca version. Instead of cornmeal, the couscous can be made with fine-grained Tapioca flour. It’s absolutely delicious! It’s eaten sweet and cold, like a desert. On top, it goes condensed milk and coconut.

There is also a version from “São Paulo” state in the southeast of Brazil. It’s quite different from the one from the Northeast, and I’ve actually never tried. Check out this recipe.

I eat this dish every Saturday in Ireland. One can find the special pan and the couscous flour in stores that sell Brazilian products. Back in Brazil, mostly in the Northeast region, people eat it every single day! Once or twice. Breakfast and dinner.

Every time I go on vacation, there is one waiting for me, even if the flight arrives at midnight. People from the Northeast of Brazil are obsessed with it, including me.

Thanks for reading.

Vinicius is a Software Engineer. He writes about software engineering, fiction, humor and more | Twitter: @vinidsmonteiro | Email:

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