Tastes of Brazil: Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style

by deborah on September 8, 2014 · 37 comments

in Culture, Nourish, Travel, Vegan

Tastes of Brazil:  Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style

Ahh, Brazil!

I love so many things about it.

But not surprisingly, one of my favorite things about spending time in Brazil is eating.

Brazilian cuisine is famously rich, hearty and flavorful.

There are so many delectable dishes to explore.

We loved strolling the magical, cobble-stoned streets of Salvador, Bahia– following our

noses into colorful cafes in search of tasty bites.

Tastes of Brazil: Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style

Of course, we couldn’t leave Bahia, Brazil without sitting down to a sizzling hot bowl of moqueca.

Moqueca is a Brazilian recipe based on salt water fish stew in coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic,

coriander and some palm oil (dendê) which is slowly cooked in a terra cotta casserole.

Brazilians have been making moqueca for several centuries.

Originally from the states of Bahia in the Northeast–also coming from Espírito Santo in the Southeast

of Brazil–moqueca is now generally prepared in two distinct styles: moqueca bahiana from Bahia

and moqueca capixaba from Espírito Santo.

Traditionally served as a fish stew typical of Bahia, this vegan adaptation is prepared with coconut

milk and coconut or olive oil, instead of the traditional palm oil.

For my vegan adaptation, I replaced the fish with chunky, chewy portabello mushrooms, carrots,

potatoes and celery.

When we ordered it in Bahia, our moqueca was served with rice, farofa de dendê, and fried plantains.

I’d swear Bahians put farofa on everything–but it has been an acquired taste for me.

When preparing moqueca, palm oil (dende oil) adds an authentic flavor to this dish.

If you wish to use palm oil, you can find palm oil at Brazilian markets and online.

Brazilian Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style

Tastes of Brazil: Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style


1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
3 large portabella mushrooms – washed and sliced into chunks
5 carrots – washed and sliced into chunks
5 potatoes – washed and sliced into chunks
4 ribs celery – washed and sliced into smaller chunks
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
4-5 green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 – 1 teaspoon chile pepper (or to taste)
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons coconut or olive oil — or palm oil, if desired

Tastes of Brazil:  Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style


Add the lime juice, salt, ground pepper, and minced garlic together.

Marinate mushrooms in this mixture for 1 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan.

Layer 1/2 of the peppers, tomatoes, and onions over the bottom of the pan.

Cover the vegetables with the portabello mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, celery as well as

the marinade.

Layer the rest of the peppers, onions and tomatoes on top.

Sprinkle with the chopped green onions and half of the chopped cilantro.

Whisk the paprika, coriander and chile pepper into the coconut milk, and pour this

mixture over the vegetables.

Drizzle the vegetables with the palm oil, if desired.

Bring this mixture to a boil, and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes.

Uncover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the stew.

To be true to Brazilian tradition, serve this rich, hearty, spicy stew served with rice,

farofa de dende, which is toasted manioc meal to us, as well as fried plantains.

Tastes of Brazil:  Moqueca Stew, Vegan Style

I chose to pair my delicious moqueca stew with whole grain brown rice at home

and sprinkled it with lightly toasted sesame seeds.


What are your favorite Brazilian dishes?

Have you adapted them to suit your plant-based diet.

Share you thoughts and comments with us.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Ehlers September 9, 2014 at 7:39 am

We have a wonderful Brazilian restaurant in St Louis – Yemanja Brasil – where I had a very similar dish. And you are right – they serve farofa with everything! And I also find it an acquired taste. I do love the coconut milk in the stews. I also like their Empenada. Those at Yemanja had a ground meat and spice filling but I would imagine replacing the meat with a blend of mushroom and eggplant would make a good substitution. (Of course, my very favorite ‘dish’ is the Caprianha!)


deborah September 9, 2014 at 11:13 am

Hi Laura,
I know what you mean about Capirinhas. We drank them daily while in Brazil. I love the idea of adding eggplant and mushrooms to black beans too! I would love to visit Yemanja Brasil if I get to St. Louis! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate it!


Nancy Andres September 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Hi Deborah. Yummy idea to make a stew with the flavors of Brazil. I haven’t eaten any Brazilian foods yet, so thanks for the introduction. The picture of the cafe with cobblestone street was a treat too. Glad you had a good time on your vacation.
Nancy Andres, health & Lifestyle Writer, Author of Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss and blogger at obloggernewbie.blogspot.com


deborah September 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hi Nancy,
Yes, I love that photo and took lots of interesting images during my trip to Brazil. I am still editing them so look out for more. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate it. I hope you had a fun summer too.


Brianne September 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

This looks amazing! I don’t know much about Brazilian cuisine or cooking, so it’s fun to see a recipe that looks so delicious right here… It’s going on the “to-make” list for sure!


Chaitali September 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

lol… I just saw this one. It’s funny that we shared a similar recipe this week. I used plantains to replace the fish in the moqueca I made since that’s how the restaurant where I tried the dish did it.


deborah September 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Hi Chatali,
I love the idea of adding plantains to the moqueca. I have to try that. In Bahia, they diversify the recipe with all kinds of interesting add-ins. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.


Diatta @ Femme Fitale Fit Club September 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm

That stew looks absolutely fabulous. I can smell it through the screen. YUM! #wowlinkup


Pure Grace Farms September 11, 2014 at 12:20 am

Love your recipe. I would be honored if you would come by and share at Foodie Fridays party this week starting Thursday 9pm EST. Hope to see you there!


deborah September 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I am so glad you like this recipe for moqueca. I will visit Foodie Friday too. Thanks for sharing this.


The Frugal Exerciser September 11, 2014 at 12:34 am

I was wondering why you haven’t been posting on WOW, I forgot you were going to Brazil. They cook like Africans with the use of palm oil. I’ve had real Brazilian food only once and that was at a party and all can remember are the bean and plantains. #wowlinkup


Chitra Jagadish September 11, 2014 at 11:07 am

oh my what a comforting stew… yummmm


Nicole @ Fitful Focus September 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

yum! i can only imagine how good this smells!


Vee@VeesEasyVegan September 12, 2014 at 5:02 pm

This looks amazing. Yum!
I went to Brazil for a conference a few years ago. Love the place and enjoyed the food very much!
Thanks for this offering.


deborah September 12, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I am so delighted that you were in Brazil too! Isn’t the food amazing! I even found a vegan restaurant in Rio! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate it.


Clotilde/Craftybegonia September 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Another savory recipe. Thanks for sharing!


deborah September 12, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Hi Clotilde,
I am delighted that you like this moqueca! Thanks for visiting and sharing your comments. I appreciate it.


Keitha The Bajan Texan September 13, 2014 at 1:23 am

Yum Yum Thanks for linking up to Pin Worthy Wednesday, I have pinned your post to the Pin Worthy Wednesday Pinterest Board.


deborah September 13, 2014 at 11:30 am

Hi Keitha,
This Brazilian dish is one of my favorites. It is so easy to diversify this recipe with whatever veggies you have on hand! Thanks for pinning.


Taylor Gilmore September 14, 2014 at 2:26 am

Hi Deborah!
Sounds like you had a lovely vacation. The Vegan style Moqueca Stew looks so yummy I had to pin it. I’d like to try my hand at making this dish but I’d like to make mine with the fish. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. I just need to know the type of fish I should buy??


deborah September 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Hi Taylor,
When I was in Brazil, I noticed that moqueca was made with shrimp, red snapper and any meaty fish available to the chef. I think you would want to select a fish with firm flesh so it will not turn mushy when added to the stew. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. It’s so nice to meet you. I will visit your blog and connect with you.


Marla September 14, 2014 at 9:39 am

This is a wonderful recipe filed with so many delicious & nutritious vegetables and I love the idea of the lime juice & coconut milk added. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Will share on Twitter Pinterest & Google. Have a happy healthy day!


Danielle @ Poor and Gluten Free September 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

This looks sooo good! I haven’t had much experience with Brazilian food, (although there is a new restaurant nearby I’ve been wanting to try) but I love the spice combo here, and your photos are so colourful! Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I’ve pinned it : )


Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition and The Entwife's Journal September 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

This one looks good too. I have never tried this recipe but I am pinning this one too.
Thanks for sharing at Wildcrafting Wednesday.


swathi September 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Delicious, I am going try it looks similar to what we prepare in Kerala, South India, if there is coconut milk there it calls my name. thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop, pinning.


deborah September 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Hi Swathi,
I am so glad you enjoy this moqueca recipe. The coconut milk really makes this dish taste amazing. I hope you try it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.


Michele @ A Pace of Balance September 16, 2014 at 1:26 am

Oooh Deborah this looks so good! I have a new recipe for next week! Will let you know how it turns out 🙂


kimmythevegan September 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Bahia sounds lovely and the food sounds great! I’m glad you had such a good (well-deserved!!) time =)
Oh I love plantains – fried plantains would be so utterly amazing!
Your moqueca sounds super delicious =)


Marla September 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

Hi Deborah,
Just a note to let you know that I used your post as one of my features for this weeks Real Food Fridays Blog Hop that is live tonight @ 7pm EST. Thanks so much for sharing and being part of Real Food Fridays. Marla


Jennifer October 23, 2014 at 8:54 am

I need to remember to dig deep into your blog! I’ve been missing some posts – shame on me!!! LOL – this dish looks FAB and I LOVE see the touristy photos, too!


Jennifer January 22, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Ooh. This looks so good! Coconut milk is the best. I’m so glad there’s a good plant-based substitute for cream.


Amy August 24, 2016 at 8:02 pm


I just discovered your blog, and your recipe for moqueca looks amazing! How large is this recipe? Will it feed 6 people? 12?


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