Photos by Conal Thomas

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Crisp and golden, these small teardrop-shaped snacks tempt hungry passers-by through shop windows.

For Brazilians they’re a national treasure, popular all over the country, north and south. And here in Dublin, they’re available in shops across the city, north side and south side.

There’s a traditional way to make them, of course, but cooks also experiment, trying new recipes, new twists.

“Nowadays we’ve a lot of different fillings, different meats or vegetarian,” says Caroline Costa, setting up for the day at Real Brazil Food at the corner of Capel and Strand streets.

Fresh & Fried

Costa’s coxinhas are made each week by a Brazilian family that has been living in Dublin for the last ten years.

Behind her in the shop sits a small oven where, each day, she re-heats the already-made fried snacks for peckish customers.

The traditional way to make a coxina is to wrap shredded chicken and spices in dough made from wheat flour and chicken broth – or from mashed potato or cassava, says Costa. Coated in breadcrumbs, they emerge from the frying pan hot and golden.

A coxinha – Portuguese for “small thigh” – was originally made by taking a whole chicken leg and wrapping it with dough, hence the snack’s teardrop shape, she says.

A staple at gatherings back home – Costa hails from just outside Brasília – “it’s one of the most popular snacks in Brazil for sure”, she says.

“Most customers who come in have coxinha with Guaraná [a soft drink]. Guaraná is a unique fruit in Brazil so Guaraná and coxinha together, delicious.”

Crisp & Chewy

Others who prep the snack each day include Camila Viera of Marcado Brasileiro, further along Capel Street. Lined up alongside traditional cheese bread, her coxinhas are €2 each.

Down the escalator of the Moore Street Mall, Brazilian restaurant Sabor Nordestino cooks freshly prepped coxinhas each day. Up the street, Pulido’s Bakery has just three left by midday.

Warm and crisp on the outside, the chewy dough gives way to shredded chicken with onions, pepper and a kick of turmeric.

“You find them all over Brazil, north, south and everywhere,” says Sandra Arruda, starting her shift at Brazuca’s Market on Parnell Street.

Sun beats through the shopfront where, in a small, heated display cabinet, a dozen or so _coxinha_s – a mix of chicken with cheese or just chicken – sit on show. These come in at €2.50 and €2, respectively.

In front of the counter, a man tucks into his cheese-and-chicken coxinha, topped with a drizzle of molho de pimenta with a cold can of imported coke to finish off.

“Good?” asks Arruda. Mouth full, he simply nods.

“I love coxinhas,” says Arruda, whose college mate makes a mushroom-and-cheese version as well as one with a broccoli filling.

But whatever the filling, says Arruda, the shape remains the same.

In from the cold come two young lads who head straight for the counter, hungry for a battered snack. One pipes up: “Six coxinhas please.”

Cónal Thomas

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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