Corn with Brazilian flair: 4 recipes put an international spin on a summer favorite

At the Saturday Brookhaven and Sunday Marietta farmers markets, Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom sells Brazilian tamales called "pamonha." Unlike Mexican tamales, with their shells of corn masa, Brazilian tamales are lined with a fresh corn paste wrapped around a sweet or savory filling. "This is food that is traditional for family gatherings at home," said Chick, who immigrated here five years ago from Goiania, Goiás, in Brazil.

Chick came to the United States in January 2014 with a plan to work on her English. By the end of the year, she’d met her husband, Jeff, and by 2015, they were married. What she missed was the food of home, especially the pamonha.

She began to see if she could reproduce this favorite dish, and her experiments were so successful that her husband suggested they start a business. Yellow Blossom was born in 2018. She works out of a commercial kitchen, with a license that allows her to wholesale her pamonha to Brazilian restaurants and bakeries.

Right now, the three flavors of pamonha are the only items available for farmers market shoppers, but she’s experimenting with her family’s corn pudding recipe and hopes to be offering that soon. Dishes using fresh corn are very popular in Brazil, and she’s finding her American customers appreciate them as well.

Chick grew up helping her mother cook for the family, often making lasagna, a family favorite, or barbecuing, which in Brazil means cooking meat over charcoal on a grill. When she goes back to Brazil, she still loves to cook with her family. As for making pamonha, that’s reserved for times when there’s lots of family to help.

“We clean the corn, prepare it for the tamales, wrap the prepared corn around the filling and boil them. It takes a lot of time to prepare. But when you get together with cousins, uncles and aunts, you have many hands to help. That’s important because when you make them, you make a lot. At least 50 at a time.”

And that’s just enough pamonha for a family lunch, served with chicken soup or any kind of meat. Chicken soup is Chick’s favorite.

She says recipes using fresh corn are so popular at home because the tropical climate means corn can be grown year-round. It’s an important crop, so big that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Brazil is the world’s third-largest producer of corn.

“You can find many more dishes made of corn at home. But when I started making pamonha here, I found that American corn is different. I had to do a lot of testing to find the right corn to use, and now I use two types of corn to get the consistency I want for my pamonha.” She says Brazilian corn cobs are bigger and the kernels have much more starch and juice than the American varieties.


Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom adapted four traditional Brazilian recipes to work with the fresh corn available in the States. She finds our corn is sweeter and less starchy than what is grown and eaten in Brazil.

Corn Salad

This fresh corn salad will feel very familiar. Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom says it’s a very common dish in Brazil, a salad that is easy to customize. “If you don’t like peas, add some chopped green pepper, for example. The one thing you can’t do without is the garlic.”

— Adapted from a recipe provided by Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom.

Chicken with Corn Cream

Brazilian corn cream will remind you of creamed corn, but it’s entirely smooth, more like a gravy than a side dish. Liliane Chick of Smyrna-based Yellow Blossom says you can top the corn cream with chicken prepared any way you like. She likes to cut chicken breast into pieces and saute it with garlic, salt and pepper. Because the corn we buy here in the States is not as starchy as what she grew up with in Brazil, she thickens the mixture with a little cornstarch to get the right consistency. The traditional accompaniment would be black beans and rice.

—Adapted from a recipe provided by Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom.

Corn Pancakes

These corn pancakes are served for breakfast or as a snack in the afternoons. Once the corn is grated, the batter goes together in minutes. If you prefer, you can cut the kernels off the cob with a knife and then pulse them in a food processor until they are chopped, but not too fine.

— Adapted from a recipe provided by Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom.

Cream Corn Pops

We’ve grown accustomed to all kinds of frozen treats, but pops made from corn? Yes. These pops start with a very creamy base and then are flavored with pureed corn.

Liliane Chick of Smyrna-based Yellow Blossom says she grew up eating corn pops. “In the village where I lived, a guy would come every afternoon selling pops in flavors like strawberry and coconut. And corn. We always bought them, but now that I am here in Atlanta, I can’t buy corn pops, but I realized they’re very easy to make.”

The essential ingredient is La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk made by Nestle. We found our can at Publix. To be strictly traditional, you’ll also use Nestle’s Media Crema (table cream) instead of whipping cream. It’s also found at Publix.

— Adapted from a recipe provided by Liliane Chick of Yellow Blossom.


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