Brazilian Vatapá

Get right into the center of the Brazilian carnival with this popular street food, Vatapá. Original from Africa, it is known as a specialty from the region of Bahia and spread throughout Brazil. This recipe with a modern twist comes directly from Brazil. Ground annatto seeds add a warm, earthy flavor and natural red color. Though shrimp is a typical ingredient, Vatapá is just as popular without it.
Cuisine Brazilian
Servings 3


Shopping List

  • 1 lb raw shrimp (see notes) cleaned
  • 1 cup coconut milk shake can well
  • 2 tomato/es diced
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup broth fish recommended
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 2 slices sandwich bread crust removed
  • salt oil (red palm oil, if available)


  • 1-2 tbsp peanuts ground
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 lime for juice
  • 8 oz watercress

Culinary Spice Kit

  • Annatto, turmeric, ginger, cumin, white pepper, bay leaves



  • Cook rice as per package instructions.


  • Cut bread in small pieces. In a BOWL, add bread and coconut milk.
  • Let soak for 15 minutes.


  • In a PAN, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Fry onions until translucent.
  • Add garlic and shrimp. Stir fry 2 minutes.
  • Take shrimp out and set aside.
  • Add broth, tomatoes, Vatapá spices, the coconut milk with the bread, salt to taste, and optionally peanuts.
  • Cook about 15 minutes over medium-low heat to get a thick creamy sauce.
  • Return shrimp to reheat.


  • Add cilantro and lime juice to taste.


  • Serve with rice and optionally watercress or a fresh salad of your choice.
  • Enjoy!


▪ Substitute shrimp with fish filet (e.g. cod or snapper). Take it out when it’s cooked.
▪ Substitute shrimp with chicken breast, cut in 1-inch strips. Don't take it out.
▪ Skip the shrimp.
▪ Add 1-2 jalapeno pepper and/ or 4 small sweet peppers to the onions, cut in thin slices.
Keyword annatto, turmeric