Pamonha is a traditional Brazilian food. It is a paste made from fresh corn and milk, boiled wrapped in corn husks. Variations may include coconut milk. Pamonhas can be savoury or sweet, the latter being the norm in north-east Brazil. They can be filled with cheese, sausage, peppers or be natural.
Roadside restaurants specializing in pamonha and other corn dishes are common in Northeast Region Brazil
Northeast Region, Brazil
The Northeast Region of Brazil is composed of the following states: Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia, and it represents 18.26% of the Brazilian territory....


The name pamonha comes from Tupi language pa'muña meaning "sticky".

In popular culture

It is associated with Festa Junina
Festa Junina
Festa Junina , also known as festa de São João for their part in celebrating the nativity of St. John the Baptist, are the annual Brazilian celebrations historically related to European Midsummer that take place in the beginning of the Brazilian winter...

 winter celebrations.

The use of stewed corn husks as a container is said to have started in the 1960s, in the city of Piracicaba
Piracicaba is a city located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. The population in 2009 was 368,843 in an area of 1,369.511 km², at an elevation of 547 m above sea level.-Name:...

 in the state of São Paulo
São Paulo (state)
São Paulo is a state in Brazil. It is the major industrial and economic powerhouse of the Brazilian economy. Named after Saint Paul, São Paulo has the largest population, industrial complex, and economic production in the country. It is the richest state in Brazil...

. Starting from a small cottage business, Ms. Vasti Rodrigues opened the first pamonha factory in Piracicaba. She was followed by her sister Noemi, who by the 1970s was producing over 5000 pamonhas per day, besides other maize products such as curau
Curau is a Brazilian sweet custard-like dessert made from the expressed juice of unripe maize, cooked with milk and sugar.The term curau is used mostly the southern states such as São Paulo, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul...

 and corn cakes. Their success was due in good part to Dirceu Bigelli, an entrepreneur who set up a fleet of van
A van is a kind of vehicle used for transporting goods or groups of people.In British English usage, it can be either specially designed or based on a saloon or sedan car, the latter type often including derivatives with open backs...

s to peddle
A peddler, in British English pedlar, also known as a canvasser, cheapjack, monger, or solicitor , is a travelling vendor of goods. In England, the term was mostly used for travellers hawking goods in the countryside to small towns and villages; they might also be called tinkers or gypsies...

 the Piracicaba pamonhas all over the state. The vans would drive slowly through city streets, playing the same taped recording, over and over:

Pamonhas, pamonhas

Pamonhas de Piracicaba

Venha provar, é uma delícia!

É o puro creme do milho verde!

Pamonhas, pamonhas, pamonhas!

Pamonhas, pamonhas

Pamonhas from Piracicaba

Come taste it, it's delicious!

Pure green corn cream!

Pamonhas, pamonhas, pamonhas!

Later a longer version of the recording was also used:

Pamonhas, pamonhas, pamonhas

São as deliciosas pamonhas de Piracicaba

Pamonhas fresquinhas, pamonhas caseiras

Feitas com o puro creme do milho verde!

Temos curau, pamonhas e bolo de milho

Venha provar minha senhora, é uma delícia!

Pamonhas, pamonhas, pamonhas!

Pamonhas, pamonhas, pamonhas

It's the delicious pamonha of Piracicaba

Really fresh home-made pamonhas

Made with pure green corn cream!

We have curau, pamonhas and corn cake

Come and try them, my lady, they're delicious.

Pamonhas, pamonhas, pamonhas!
Noemi's factory closed during the 1980s, due to family problems and a general economic recession. Vasti Rodrigues, and (after her death) her sons and grandsons have continued producing pamonhas on a smaller scale, into the 2000s. The pamonha peddlers have now largely disappeared from the city of São Paulo, and are growing scarce elsewhere; but the Pamonhas from Piracicaba chant has become part of the local culture.

Other Meanings

The word 'pamonha' is used in some parts of Brazil as a pejorative meaning a cowardly or stupid person.

See also

  • List of Brazilian dishes
  • Tamales, a similar dish made from a type of dry corn flour
  • Zongzi
    Zongzi is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. Laotians, Thais, and Cambodians also have similar traditional dishes. In the Western world, they are also known as rice...

    , from China
  • Chimaki, from Japan
  • Bollos (Panamanian cuisine)
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