Mar 28

Feira das Yabás


The home of Portela samba school is here in Madureira, Zona Norte. See from the other side here!


Carnival in Rio means different things to different people. Some look forward to the blocos which make up the Carnaval de Rua (street carnival), while others just want to get the hell out of town until it’s all over. Then there is another group for whom carnival is all about the Sambódromo and the competition between the samba schools. The people in this latter group often support a particular samba school in a way more commonly associated with football fans.

Personally I can’t pretend that it bothers me much who wins, but in the same way that I’ve picked a football team to nominally support (Botafogo), I’ve also picked a samba school – Portela. And the main reason I picked Portela was that it shares a home with Feira das Yabás.


Feira das Yabás. The word “Yabá” is used in Brazil to refer to the female orixás – female goddesses from the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé.


The Feira das Yabás is a street market based in Oswaldo Cruz in Zona Norte and it’s all about the music and food of the black community of Rio.

Something like 16 barracas (stalls) are set-up and run by matriarchs of the community, some of them well into their 80s! These octogenarian ‘yabás’ serve up some of the best traditional carioca food I’ve ever tasted. We are talking classic dishes here such as mocotórabada com angu, galinha com quiabo (chicken with okra), carne seca com aipim (jerked beef with manioc), bolinhos de abóbora com carne-seca (pumpkin fritters stuffed with jerked beef) - if you haven’t heard of or tasted these dishes then you need to get involved!


Aipim Frito – deep-fried manioc.



Mrs Eat Rio receiving a delicious dish of carne seca with aipim frito.



Carne seca with fried manioc – this might not be sophisticated food, but believe me, if I asked you to hold this while I went to get some beers, I would come back to find you with an empty tray and a guilty look on your face!


The Feira das Yabás runs every second Sunday of the month in Praça Paulo da Portela, Madureira. Unless you have a lot of money to spend on taxis, the best way to get there is to take the metro to Centro do Brasil and then get the train to Oswaldo Cruz (around 15 stops on the red line – it takes around 30-40 mins). From there it is a short walk.

The feira opens at 13:00 and as well as all that lovely food, there is also music in the form of samba. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

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  1. Mrs. Eat Rio

    I just have to say: this was the best carne seca com aipim I’ve ever had in my life!

    1. tomlemes

      It was amazing wasn’t it? I remember it was actually our second choice because there was something else on the menu that looked even better. Can’t remember what that was now though…

  2. Christopher Wright

    Mmm…it looks to die for the “carne seca com aipim (fried manioc)”.

    How would you describe the taste of fried manioc? It looks like sweet potato, is it similar?

    1. tomlemes

      Hi Chris – I think it kind of depends on how you cook it. Mashed manioc is very similar to mashed potato. When deep-fried like in the photo above, the texture comes into play – the manioc seems to toughen up and if you’re not careful it can become rather dry and hard work. Mrs Eat Rio’s favourite cooking method is to have it simply boiled – again, the texture is slightly different from potato, having a slightly gooey, gummy consistency. That probably doesn’t make it sound very nice, but add liberal quantities of butter and you have a delicious comfort food that goes with almost anything.

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