Food – a glossary

This page contains a glossary of Portuguese food words and cooking terms, divided into the following sections:

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Polvo and batatas – octopus and potatoes

  • Cakes, desserts & sweet things
  • Cooking methods & food descriptions
  • Dishes – typical specialties you will find on many restaurant menus
  • Fish & seafood
  • Fruit & nuts
  • Herbs, seasonings etc
  • Meat – general names for types of meat and specific cuts
  • Recipes – where to find them
  • Vegetables & other ingredients 

***NOTE: This is a new page – started May 2017. I will add to it when I can. Please feel free to add additions, suggestions or corrections in the ‘leave a reply’ box below.***

Cakes, desserts & sweet things

Food 02

Coffee and a queijada

Açucar – sugar * Alfarroba – carob * Arroz doce – rice pudding

Bolacha – biscuit * Bolo – cake * Bolo de Arroz – a sugar-coated muffin made with rice flour, often flavoured with lemon (gorgeous with a strong black coffee!) * Bolo de bolacha – a little like a Portuguese version of tiramisu made with condensed milk or cream, eggs and layers of crumbled Maria biscuits, flavoured with coffee (and cinnamon) * Bolo de Rei – traditional cake from Christmas, made with a soft dough baked with raisins, nuts and crystallized fruit * Broa de mel – cornflour and honey cake 

Caramelo – caramel

Doces conventuais – a general name for various sweet desserts (like fios de ovos and toucinho do céu) traditionally made by Portugal’s convents. Invariably containing eggs and lots of sugar – can be an acquired taste 

Fios de Ovos – another incredibly sweet egg-based dessert, sweetened egg yolks made into thin pasta-like strands and cooked in sugar syrup

Gelado  – ice cream

Maçapão – marzipan * Mel – honey * Molotof or Molotov pudim  a kind of very soft meringue typically served with sweet caramel sauce

Nata – cream

Pastel (pasteis) de nata – the classic Portuguese custard tart (or tarts) * Pudim or pudim flan – creme caramel

Queijada (de laranja) – (Orange) cheesecake, despite the translation, there is actually no cheese in these soft, little cupcakes

Serradura – ‘sawdust pudding’ comes from Macau and is made of layers of thick cream and crumbled Maria biscuits * Sericaia – this Alentejo speciality is a sweet egg pudding flavoured with cinnamon and lemon, typically served with candied plums 

Tarte de Alfarroba e Amendôas – this Algarve specialty combines carob and almonds into a dark, soft and decadent dessert * Tarte de Amêndoa – almonds in a sweet pastry case * Toucinho do céu – translates as ‘bacon of heaven’ but is actually a sweet dessert made of eggs and sugar

Cooking methods & food descriptions

A vapor –  steamed * Assado/a (no forno or no espeto) – roast (in the oven or on the spit) 

Caldeirada – a type of stew (often fish) * Caseiro – homemade * Cozido – literally ‘cooked’ but used as boiled (as in potatoes) – sometimes also word for a stew

Em calda – in syrup * Em conserva – pickled/preserved * Empada – pie * Ensopado – stew * Escalfado – poached * Estufado/a – stewed

Folhado (de salsicha) – puff pastry (sausage roll) * Frio – cold * Frito/a – fried * Fumado – smoked

Gratinado – gratin * Grelhados (no carvão) – grilled (on the coal/charcoal) * Guisado – stew

Mexido – scrambled

Na brasa – chargrilled (‘on the embers’) Na churrasco – barbecued * No forno – literally ‘in the oven’, meaning baked

Panado – fried in breadcrumbs * Picante – spicy/hot * Piri-piri – with chili sauce * Puré – puree 

Quente –  hot

Recheado – stuffed * Rissóis – rissoles

Salgado – salted * Salteado(s) – sauteed

Dishes

Below are a few examples of typical Portuguese and regional dishes you may find on a restaurant’s ementa (menu). Please feel free to add more (leave suggestions in the box at the bottom of the page.

Açorda – bread-based stew, often made with seafood or fish

Arroz de pato – ‘duck rice’ is a baked dish with duck meat in rice, sometimes also containing pieces of chorizo or egg

Arroz de tamboril or polvo – a soupy stew with rice and monkfish or octopus in a tomato sauce, often flavoured with coriander

Bifana – simple pork sandwich that is a staple of many cafe menus, with the pork often sauteed in garlic and/or spices

Carne de porco à Alentejano – dish of mildly spicy cubes of pork and clams

Carril – curry (generally very mild)

Caldo verde – literally ‘green broth’, a type of soup typical of northern Portugal (and Galicia) containing shredded cabbage and – normally – a slice or two of Chouriço

Ensalada (or salada) – salad, typically just lettuce, tomato and onion

Ensopado do borrego – lamb stew, typically from the Alentejo, often containing slices of bread

Migas – a traditional side dish from the Alentejo (and Spain) generally made from leftover bread, olive oil and garlic, sometimes with other ingredients/flavouring like coriander, asparagus, pork dripping, tomato etc. Normally used to accompany meat but sometimes also made with fish (bacalhau). Can be delicious…or heavy and unappetising!

Ovos (or ovas) – eggs

  • Ovo escalfado – poached egg
  • Ovos mexidos – scrambled eggs

Prego – the steak version of a bifana, with the meat cooked in thin steaks and often served in a sandwich, although sometimes with chips, rice and fried egg

Salada da horta – garden salad

Sopa – soup

  • Sopa do dia – soup of the day (95% of the time it’s sopa de legumes!)
  • Sopa de legumes – vegetable soup. This is the standard soup in most restaurants and cafes. Normally primarily potato, carrot and cabbage. Can be excellent, can be poor.
  • Sopa da Panela – ‘kettle soup’ – more of a stew than a soup, generally made with chicken and/or other meats, bacon, various types of sausage, onions, potatoes, parsley and mint

Tomatada – a tomato-based dish that can include garlic, onion, bayleaf and fried eggs, sometimes plus chouriço. Can be an accompaniment or a main dish.

Fish (peixe) & seafood (mariscos)

A plateful of lulas fried with alho, plus some batatas cozidos and a slice of limao

Ameijoa – clam * Anchovas – anchovies * Atum – tuna

Bacalhau – salt cod * Berbigão – cockle * Besugo – bream * Búzio – whelk

Cação – dog fish (tope) * Camarão (tigre) – (tiger) prawns/shrimps * Carangueijo – crab * Conquilha – clam (small) * Carapau – horse mackerel or scad (not really mackerel and with a different flavour) * Cavala – another name for carapau (horse mackerel)  * Cherne – white grouper * Choco – cuttlefish * Congro – conger eel

Dourada – bream

Enguia – eel * Espadarte – swordfish * (Peixe) espada – scabbard fish

Gambas – prawns

Lagosta – lobster * Lagostim –  crayfish * Lampreia – lamprey * Linguado – sole * Lingueirão – razor clam * Lula – squid

Mexhilhão/oes – mussel(s) * Moreia – moray eel

Ostra – oyster

Pargo – snapper * Pargo vermelho – red snapper * Peixe do rio – freshwater fish, literally ‘ river fish’ * Peixe espada – scabbard fish * Perca – perch * Perceve – goose barnacle * Pescada – hake * Polvo – octopus

Robalo – sea bass

Safio – small conger eel * Salmão – salmon * Salmonete – mullet * Santolas – spider crab * Sapateira – crab (large) * Sarda – mackerel * Sardinha – sardine * Sargo – porgy / sea bream

Tamboril – monkfish * Truta – trout

Vieiras – scallops

Fruit & nuts

Abacaxi – pineapple * Ameixas – plums * Amêndoa – almond * Amendoim – peanut  * Amora preta – blackberry * Ananás – pineapple * Avelã – hazelnut

Banana – banana

Caju – cashew * Castanha – (sweet) chestnut * Castanha do Brasil or do pará – Brazil nut * Cerejas – cherries

Damascos – apricots

Figo – fig * Framboesas – raspberries * Frutas silvestres – literally ‘forest fruit’, meaning berries like blackberries * Frutas secas or frutos secos – dried fruit

Goiaba – guava

Laranja – orange * Lima – lime * Limão – lemon

Maçã – apple * Manga – mango * Maracujá – passion fruit * Melancia – water melon * Melão – melon * Morango – strawberry

Noz – nuts (either a general term or can also be walnut or hazelnut) * Nogueira – walnut

Passas – raisins * Pêra – pear * Pêssego – peach * Pistache – pistachio

Romã – pomegranate

Tâmaras – dates * Tangerina – tangerine * Toranja – grapefruit

Uvas – grapes

Herbs, spices and seasoning etc.

Açafrão – turmeric * Alecrim – rosemary * Azeite – olive oil 

Baunilha – vanilla

Canela – cinnamon * Carril – curry * Coco – coconut * Coentros – coriander

Ervas – herbs

Gengibre – ginger

Hortelã – mint

Louro – bay leaf

Molho – sauce

Oregãos – oregano

Pimenta (preta/branca) – chilli/pepper (black/white) * Pimentão – paprika * Piri-piri – hot pepper sauce

Sal – salt * Salsinha (or salsa) – parsley * Sálvia (folhos de) – sage (leaves of)

Vinagre – vinegar

Meat – general names & specific cuts

Note: Cuts of meat are not necessarily the same in Portugal as in the UK (or other countries) so the translations here are an approximation.

Aba – flank * Acem – spare ribs * Alcatra – rump (steak) * Alheira – pork-free sausage * Almôndegas – meat balls * Aves – poultry

Bife – steak (but not necessarily beef) * Bife de vazia – sirloin steak * Bochechas – cheeks * Borrego – lamb (aged 7-15 months) * Borreguinho – ‘little lamb’ (the ending ‘inho‘ or ‘inha‘ on a Portuguese word simply means it is a ‘little’ version of the main word)

Cabeça – head * Cabra – goat * Cabrito – kid (or lamb) * Caça – game * Carne picada – mince * Carneiro – ram (male sheep – not castrated – aged over two years) * Chouriço – cured sausage (like Spanish chorizo) * Coelho – rabbit * Cordeiro – lamb (up to seven months) * Cordoniz – quail * Costeleta – chop/cutlet

Dobrada – tripe

Enchidos – smoked sausage * Entrecosto – spare rib * Escalope – escalope

Faisão – pheasant * Farinheira – type of cured sausage * Febras – thin pork steaks * Filé – Porterhouse steak * Fiambre – cooked ham * Fígado – liver * Frango – chicken (general term) * Fumeriros – smoked meat

Galinha – hen, occasionally but not normally used when referring to food

Javali – wild boar

Lebre – hare * Leitão – suckling pig * Linguiça – cured sausage * Lombo – loin 

Medalhão – medallion * Miolos – brains * Moela – gizzard * Morcela – blood sausage (similar to black pudding)

Ovelha – ewe (female sheep aged over 15 months)

Pá – shoulder (beef) * Paio – cured sausage * Paleta – brisket * Pata – foot/hoof * Pato – duck * – foot/hoof * Perdiz – partridge * Perna – leg * Perú – turkey * Pezinhos – pigs’ feet (trotters) * Pomba – pigeon * Porco – pork (sometimes referred to as porco branco to distinguish from porco preto) * Porco preto – black pork (typical of Alentejo and southern Portugal) * Presunto – cured/smoked ham

Rabo – tail * Rabo de boi – oxtail * Rim – kidney

Salsicha – sausage

Touro – bull * Tripas – tripe (specifically guts)

Vaca – cow * Vitela – veal (calf)

Recipes

English language sites giving recipes for popular Portuguese dishes include:

BBC Food – the BBC’s food site has sections on various cuisines from around the world, including Portugal, with recipes from various famous chefs

Easy Portuguese Recipes.com – divided into various sections, including Azorean specialities, beef, seafood, desserts etc.

Food.com – also has a Portuguese section, with recipes rated by the site’s users

Vegetables & other ingredients

Abacete – avocado * Abóbora – pumpkin * Abobrinha – zucchinni * Agrião – watercress * Aipo – celery * Alcachofra – artichoke * Alcaparras – capers * Alface – lettuce * Alho – garlic * Alho Francês – leek * Arroz – rice * (Flocos de) Aveia – oat (flakes) * Azeitonas – olives

Batata – potato * Batata doce – sweet potato * Beringela – aubergine (eggplant) * Beterraba – beetroot * Brócolis (or Brócolos) – broccoli (or broccoli florets)

Castanhas – chestnuts * Cebolla – onion * Cenoura – carrot * Centeio – rye * Cogumelos – mushrooms * Couve – cabbage * Couve flor – cauliflower * Curgete – courgette 

Ervilhas – peas * Espargos – asparagus * Espinafres – spinach 

Farinha – flour * Favas – broad/fava beans * Feijão (verde or preto) – beans (green or black) * Feijão-frade – black-eyed bean * Funcho – fennel

(Sementes de) Gergelim – sesame seeds * Grão (de bico) – chickpeas  

Iogurte – yoghurt

Lentilhas – lentils

Malagueta – type of long chili pepper * Manteiga – butter *  Massa – pasta * Milho doce – sweetcorn * Mostarda – mustard

Nabo – turnip

Ovo – egg (see dishes for cooking methods) 

Strings of piri-piri peppers add a splash of red to a fruit and veg stall in Lagos market

Pão (intégral, de caseiro, centeio, cereais, trigo) – bread (wholemeal, ‘of the house’, rye, cereals, wheat) * Pepino – cucumber * Pimento – sweet/bell pepper * Piri-piri – fiery chili peppers

Queijo – cheese 

Rúcula – rocket (arugula)

Tomate – tomato * Trigo – wheat