Acarajé, a bean fritter fried in palm oil and filled with various toppings is one of the iconic foods of Brazil. We were spoiled for choice by the cheap and plentiful acarajé options in Bahia, where acarajé is most commonly found, (a complete Salvador acarajé post is coming soon). However, we are happy to report we found a great and centrally located acarajé spot in Rio de Janerio as well. Right in the bustling Largo do Carioca in Centro, Cida Acarajé sets up shop every weekday at around 12:30. It’s a pretty big production, so we are always impressed that it seems to pop up out of nowhere every day at lunchtime.
An acarajé at Cida costs R$ 9 without dried shrimp, which is highway robbery by Bahian standards, but is largely in keeping with Rio’s generally inflated prices. However, this was actually some pretty good acarajé, so we were prepared to shell out a little extra money for one of our favorite Bahian treats. The acarajé are made fresh to order in a giant vat of dendê (palm oil) – which is absolutely imperative to a good acarajé experience. As far as places in Rio go, we definitely preferred Cida’s acarajé to the one we had previously sampled at the Feira Hippie in Ipanema (another high profile location).
The acarajé was perfectly fresh and we enjoyed the good renditions of the traditional acarajé fillings: vatapá, caruru and salada. M also appreciated the spicy sauce with a nice kick. If you are going for the full authentic experience you must also top the acarajé with dried shrimp (though we are on the fence if we actually prefer this). In addition to acarajé, there were various chocolate and coconut cakes by the slice, cocadas and even small puddings baked right in a coconut shell. This was our friend M’s first venture into acarajé and we are happy to report that she heartily enjoyed it. Another Brazilian food convert won over!