A trip to South America won’t be complete without having a taste of Brazilian food. Thanks to its large and diverse population, Brazil boasts of its interesting food heritage, with regional dishes varying greatly from one area to another.

Brazilian dishes are generally colorful and exciting, characterized by Amerindian, African, Asian and European influences. Here are 10 traditional Brazilian dishes that sum up everything great about food in this country:

Picanha

Most popular in Brazil and other Latin American countries, picanha is a prized cut of flavorful beef that’s cooked over the fire. It is tender and juicy and holds very little fat inside the meat, making it one of the highlights of every Brazilian barbecue.

Farofa

This Brazilian dish is basically a toasted manioc flour mixture served as a side for meats, beans, and black bean stew. Farofa can be made with white or toasted manioc flour and can be paired with butter and bacon.

Feijoada

Often called the national dish of Brazil, feijoada is a hearty black bean and mixed meat stew that’s perfect for the chilly weather. There are many versions of this popular Brazilian dish, but it almost always has black beans and salted, smoked and fresh pork and beef.

Acaraje

Considered to be the most popular street food in northeastern Brazil, acaraje consists of black-eyed peas or peeled beans formed into a ball and deep-fried in palm oil. The ball is then split in half and stuffed with tasty filling made with cashews and shrimp.

Empadao

More commonly known as the Brazilian chicken pot pie, empadao is made from a homemade flaky dough known as “pate brisee” or “massa podre,” filled with a creamy and chunky chicken and vegetable filling. Different versions of this dish are usually sold at street stalls in Brazil.

Bolinho de Bacalhau

A traditional Portuguese dish deeply rooted in Brazil, bolinho de bacalhau is a popular appetizer that can also be served as a main dish with rice, salad and olives. It is a codfish croquette prepared by combining bacalhau with mashed potato, onion, parsley and eggs.

Moqueca

The Brazilian moqueca is a seafood stew made with fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, and coconut milk. It is typically served piping hot in a clay pot.

Vatapa

Also known as the Brazilian shrimp stew, vatapa is one of the classic dishes of Brazil. This dish hails from Bahia state and is made from shrimp, bread, coconut milk, palm oil, ground nuts, and herbs mashed into a paste.

Brigadeiros

These bite-sized chocolate sweets are a popular desert in Brazil and are close to America’s truffles and fudge balls. They are made of sweet condensed milk, eggs, chocolate powder and butter hand-rolled individually and covered in chocolate sprinkles.

Pao de Queijo

Pao de queijo is a popular gluten-free Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca flour, eggs, olive oil, milk and cheese. It is a chewy cheese puff that is popularly served with jam.

Brazilian Fudge Balls (Brigadeiros) Brazilian Fudge Balls (Brigadeiros) Courtesy of Nestlé La Lechera