Wednesday, 2 June 2010

In search of the ultimate caipirinha

If you like fish and haven’t yet tried bacalhau (salt cod), you should. I had bacalhau cooked with potatoes and olives at Canela in Carnaby Street and it was delicious.
In Brazil, one of my favourites snacks or aperitifs is bolinho de bacalhau (salt cod cakes) washed down with a caiprinha. I thought that everyone knew what a caipirinha was – it’s on the drinks lists of so many bars in the UK – but I was talking to a colleague the other day who had no idea. It’s a lime, cachaça–based drink, sweetened with sugar and loaded with ice. Vodka is probably the closest equivalent to cachaça – some Brazilians actually prefer it – but it’s no substitute for the real thing. You can buy cachaça in all good supermarkets these days.
In fact, see for yourself. When I was in Paraty, a pretty colonial town four hours south of Rio, I took part in a cooking course – I’d recommend it – that included a lesson on how to make caipirinha.
Here’s the method (for one person):

1. Cut one lime in half, removing the central, white pith with a V-shaped cut
2. Put one half in a tumbler (or whisky-style glass) flat-side down
3. Squeeze out the juice with a pestle (or something similar)
4. Add a level tablespoon of granulated sugar onto the lime skin and continue to grind
5. Add the second half of the lime and squeeze out the juice with a pestle
6. Add ice – either cubed or crushed – to just below the top of the glass
7. Fill the glass with cachaça to taste
8. Give a final mix

You may wish to add more sugar/less alcohol – it’s a strong drink… And everyone has their own method. If you make it differently, let me know at


  1. Ooooh great!!
    The new blog! I love it!!
    About the caipirinha is cachaça, no caçhaca =]
    We can make caipirinha with diferents fruits: lemon, strawberry, pineapple, kiwi...
    the tradicional one is lemon with cachaça!!
    When we mix with other drinks we named it diferent:

    Cachaça = caipirinha
    Vodka = caipiroska
    Saquê (sake) = saquerita

  2. farofa recipe please :)