International Cooking: Food from Cabo Verde

I thought this would be an interesting week! I wasn’t sure what food from Cabo Verde would be like, since although the country is technically in West Africa, it’s also way out in the ocean.

Cabo Verde, also known as Cape Verde, is an island country in the central Atlanic Ocean. The islands are part of Africa, lying between 600 and 850 kilometers off the coast of West Africa.

Until the 15th century, Cabo Verde was uninhabited. Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the islands, creating the first European settlement in the tropics.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Cabo Verde was very prosperous due to the Atlantic slave trade, but the economy declined once slavery became illegal in Britain and the United States.

The country has recovered economically since then, focusing on tourism and foreign investment. Cabo Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975 and is now known as one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa.

What Do People Eat in Cabo Verde?

Cabo Verdean cuisine has some similarities to that of West African countries, but it’s heavily influenced by Portuguese cuisine. Because Brazil shares those influences, some dishes are popular across all three countries.

Since this is an island country, fish and other kinds of seafood are common ingredients. Although it is often enjoyed fresh, canned tuna is popular too. Turtle steak used to be a popular dish, but in 2002 the Cabo Verdean government outlawed the killing of turtles.

Corn and beans are staples, with rice, cassava, green bananas, and a range of other vegetables showing up in many meals.

One important aspect of Cabo Verdean culture is a beverage called ‘grogue’. It is a strong rum made from distilled sugar cane and is often consumed by musicians seeking inspiration.

What I Made

Scroll down to read about other popular Cabo Verdean dishes I didn’t make!

Gran Di Bico (Tuna and Chickpea Salad)

Gran di bico

Gran di bico is a chickpea and tuna salad, also containing potato, parsley, lightly cooked onion and tomato, and boiled eggs. It’s really simple to make, and, as someone who doesn’t enjoy chickpeas that much, I can say it tastes pretty good! I wasn’t sure whether this was supposed to be served cold or warm, but I ate it warm (though not hot) and I liked it that way.

I followed a video from Ideally Ilca Cooks to make this. Amounts weren’t specified so I just kind of guessed how much of everything to use.

Cachupa (Meat and Bean Stew)


Cachupa is Cabo Verde’s national dish. I often saw it referred to as Cabo Verde’s version of feijoada, but aside from the fact that both contain some kind of meat and beans, I don’t see how they’re that similar. The main ingredients of cachupa are various cuts of meat, beans, hominy, root vegetables, and greens.

I followed a recipe from Crumb-Snatched, but made a few substitutions and omissions in order to make use of ingredients I already had and to cut down on the amount of stew I was making. I omitted the sausage and only used pinto beans for the beans. I also used canned hominy, and potato instead of yuca. I ended up with about 5-6 servings, which was still more than I needed so some went into the freezer for another time.

Luckily, this was delicious so I don’t mind having to eat it a few more times!

Pastel (Tuna-Filled Pastries)


These are pastries filled with tuna, onion, parsley, and often chili. I used the recipe from Crumb-Snatched, which called for pre-made empanada discs. Instead, I made a dough loosely based on empanada dough; I also added chili flakes to the filling. I baked my pastel instead of frying and I think they came out really well. They were delicious!

Cachupa Guisado (Leftover Cachupa with Egg)

Cachupa Guisado

I was excited to see that Cabo Verde has a meal specifically for using up leftover cachupa. After all, I’ve always loved leftovers with an egg or two on top for breakfast, so this was right up my alley.

This probably doesn’t really need a recipe, but I used one from Crumb-Snatched. When you have leftover cachupa, most of the work is already done. All you need to do is saute some onions in oil, then add the cachupa minus the liquid and cook for a short time. To serve, top with an egg or two, and that’s it!

I actually think I may have enjoyed this more than the cachupa, but eggs are basically my favorite food and so any meal that includes them is going to automatically be more delicious than anything that doesn’t.

  • Cuscuz de milho – a slightly sweet cake made mostly from corn flour and steamed in a clay pot. It is usually served for breakfast and can be described as a type of cornbread.
  • Jagacida – a bean and rice dish, commonly referred to as ‘jag’. The exact ingredients can vary greatly, but Portuguese sausage is a staple.
  • Arroz com atum – a tuna and rice dish; it can also include olives or beans.
  • Gufonginho – fried pastries made from sweet potato and cornmeal. They are typically formed into cylinder shapes; I think they look kind of like hotdogs!

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed all the food from Cabo Verde this week. I think my favorite was the cachupa guisado; I’ve always been a fan of leftovers with eggs on top!

Next week, I’ll be cooking food from Cambodia.

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