Cape Verdean Food - A Guide to Island Cuisine

Expect diversity when visiting Cape Verde and sampling the food as the cuisine has many influences, including African, Creole and Portuguese.

Thanks to the islands’ position off the west coast of Africa there’s a strong African flavour. But, as Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony right up until 1975, you’ll also discover lots of Portuguese cooking.

The national stew

Quite a lot of Cape Verdean food is a form of ‘one-pot cooking’. Due to the slow-cooking process, the end result is a delicious melding of flavours.

The most popular stew on the islands, and the national dish, is Cachupa rice. It’s made from several different types of seasoned and spicy meat, beans and hominy – dried corn-on-the-cob kernels that have been softened and doubled in size.

Plantains, yams, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and garlic may also be included. The ingredients do vary from island to island and sometimes fish replaces the meat, but this dish is well worth tasting in whatever form you come across it.

For a wonderful, thick fish stew, Buzon – made from shellfish and soy sauce – is an excellent choice. Canja – a rich chicken and rice soup made from a whole chicken and mainly produced for special occasions – is found throughout the islands.

Pulses and grains

Beans and pulses form the basis of many stews and these are flavoured with garlic, spices or additional vegetables. When mopped up with some gufon – the local bread made from cornmeal – these can be very filling dishes. Fava beans, mandioca root and squash all feature prominently in these stews.

Don’t be surprised to encounter the islands’ own variety of couscous, known as kuskus here. This staple is often flavoured with exotic herbs and spices, and the islanders are very fond of adding garlic to most dishes. The kuskus is usually prepared in a traditional pot, known as a binde.

Wonderful seafood

Fish is plentiful in Cape Verde, and you won’t have to go very far to enjoy a meal of fresh tuna as a steak, or in carpaccio style, marinated in oil, lime and salt.

You’ll also be able to find grilled octopus and sea-urchin dishes as well as Lagosta suada – whole lobster, onions and tomatoes cooked in a rich sauce of wine, brandy and water.

The hectically busy fish market at Mindelo on Sao Vincente is fascinating. Tuna, barracuda and giant Moray eels, all fresh from the sea, are on sale here. Rascasse – scorpion fish – can also be found on the menus of many Cape Verde seafood restaurants.

Desserts are not neglected

If you’ve a sweet tooth, you’re catered for too. The Cape Verde islands have a huge variety of fruits, some of which you probably won’t recognise. Some more familiar ones very much in evidence are coconut, mangoes, papaya, quince and bananas.

Queijo de Cabra com Doce de Popoia – local cheese served with a papaya relish – is delicious, as are rolled bananas – bananas wrapped in dough and fried.

You’ll find papaya or banana candy everywhere. This is made by adding sugar to the fruit, placing the mixture in a small amount of water and heating it. Lemon juice is added for additional flavour and, once cooled, the mixture crystallises and is cut into shapes for eating.

Pudim de Queijo – a baked cheese dish – is spectacular. Made from goats’ cheese with added sugar and eggs, it’s baked in an oven and topped with granulated sugar when cool.

Don't forget the drink

Cape Verde grows its own coffee. Called Fogo, it has quite an acid taste to start with, but leaves a smooth aftertaste.

The Mosteiros area on Fogo is also known for its local wine. Passito is the local dessert wine made from Moscatel but the vineyards also produce white, red and rose wines. Manecome is another local wine.

The national drink, Grogue, is distilled from sugar-cane and can be extremely strong. Variations of it are found throughout the islands – including pontche, a mixture of grogue and molasses with added cloves and citrus fruits.

Cocktail-lovers should enjoy Caipirinha, a combination of sugar, lime and the local liqueur.

Holiday Hypermarket is a trading name of TUI UK Retail Limited.
Registered office: Wigmore House, Wigmore Lane, LUTON, LU2 9TN.
Company Number: 01456086.

Book with confidence. We are a Member of ABTA which means you have the benefit of ABTA’s assistance and Code of Conduct. All the package and Flight-Plus holidays we sell are covered by a scheme protecting your money if the supplier fails. Other services such as hotels or flight on their own may not be protected and you should ask us what protection is available.

 

All the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Some of the flights on this website are also financially protected by the ATOL scheme, but ATOL protection does not apply to all flights. This website will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each flight before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk. ATOL protection does not apply to the other holiday and travel services listed on this website

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and National Travel Health Network and Centre have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information check travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/ and follow @FCDOtravelGovUK and Facebook.com/FCDOTravel. More information is available by checking https://www.holidayhypermarket.co.uk/holidays/know-before-you-go. Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting www.travelhealthpro.org.uk. The advice can change so check regularly for updates.