Chefs teach dish and drink recipes for good luck in the New Year


Throw the first pomegranate seed who has never made a mandinga to ensure luck and prosperity in the New Year. From white clothes to seven waves, there are many superstitions that we love to reproduce at this time — and a good part of them, thankfully, are at the table.

Eating poultry meat, which scratches backwards, is certainly a delay in life. Better pork or fish, which move forward and inspire progress. Lentil is shaped like a coin and brings fortune. Eating 12 grapes is a guarantee of plenty throughout the calendar.

Scientific basis? It doesn’t need. The issue here is a pure matter of faith and does not depend on creed, level of education or purchasing power. The human species has always had a soft spot for the supernatural, which has its reason for being, as explained by the American psychologist Stuart Vyse.

Specialist in these non-rational behaviors and author of several books on the subject, Vyse explains that magical rituals are the way we found to deal with the unpredictable side of life. They give a certain sense of control, even though, rationally, we know they don’t make much sense.

“Our understanding of the natural world tells us that these signs and gestures cannot affect the events they are directed at, but superstition is extremely common, if not universal,” says the author in “Believing In Magic – The Psychology of Superstition Em Magia – A Psicologia da Superstição, no edition in Brazil), published by Oxford University, in 1997.

We inherit our superstitions from different cultures. From Italy comes the belief that lentils bring abundance, while the symbology of pomegranate seeds originates from the rituals of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

There are several foods that make up this festive meal, each with its own meaning. But the Jews do not see them as superstitions, since the Torah condemns this type of behavior – the idea is that, by eating such foods, we can reflect on our purposes for the new cycle and direct our thoughts in a positive way.

From Rosh Hashanah we borrow the ritual of eating pomegranate seeds. “A pomegranate has more than 600 seeds, a number similar to that of the commandments, which are 613. In the ritual, we recite ‘may our merits be as numerous as the seeds of this pomegranate'”, explains Breno Lerner, a researcher in the history of Jewish gastronomy.

Also part of the Jewish meal is fish, which never closes its eyes, swims forward and multiplies easily, and honey, which symbolizes a sweet New Year and collective forgiveness.

“On the second night, we ate a new fruit, which we still haven’t eaten in season. This custom gave rise to new clothes, which even led to underwear”, adds Lerner.

Therefore, the season of mandingas, sympathies and food spells is open. For those who believe in witches or not, 2023 is right around the corner and it doesn’t hurt to give luck a helping hand — even better if it’s with chef recipes and a signature drink.

Lentil salad with fish crudo and pomegranate vinaigrette

Renato Carioni, chef at Così restaurant

“My mother was always very superstitious about New Year’s Eve food. Eating poultry was forbidden. The meat was always pork, accompanied by lentils. It was for her that I created this recipe. In the toast, at midnight, we put 12 pomegranate seeds in a glass of sparkling wine, one for each month of the year”, recalls the chef.

Yield: 4 servings


400 g cooked lentils

½ minced red onion

2 skinless and seedless chopped tomatoes

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped green onion

Salt and black pepper to taste


1 cup of olive oil

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 clove or tahiti lemon

Seeds and juice of 1 large, very ripe pomegranate


300g finely sliced ​​sea bass fillets

fleur de sel to taste

Edible flowers to decorate


  1. Mix the salad ingredients and drizzle with 2/3 of the vinaigrette.
  2. Arrange the fish, sprinkle with fleur de sel and black pepper and add the rest of the vinaigrette.
  3. Decorate with edible flowers and serve.

Lentil, bacon and octopus salad

Carole Crema, pastry chef

“I don’t believe in witches, but they exist… There’s always a candle lit at home and, at the end of the year, I follow several superstitions: I don’t eat birds and I do the charms of pomegranates and lentils, which bring money and, for me, symbolize renewal, prosperity and rebirth”, says Crema.

Yield: 12 servings


3 white onions

3 bay leaves

8 carnations

3 cloves of garlic

¼ bunch of thyme

4 coarsely chopped leek stalks

2.5 kg of whole octopus

350ml dry white wine

3.5 liters of water

250 g diced bacon

4 diced red onions

1 kg of lentils

400g cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and black pepper to taste

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

20 ml of olive oil

½ bunch of basil


  1. Cut 2 onions diagonally, without reaching the end, insert a bay leaf in each slit and secure with cloves. Use these onions to line the bottom of a large pot, along with the garlic, thyme and 1 leek stalk.
  2. Arrange the octopus on top, add the white wine and water and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, until it is soft. Drain and reserve the broth.
  3. In another large, thick-bottomed pot, sauté the bacon with the red onion. Add the lentils, sauté and gradually add the octopus broth until the grains are al dente. Turn off and book.
  4. Cut the octopus into small pieces and sauté in a non-stick frying pan over high heat with the remaining chopped white onion and leek. Adjust the salt and pepper, transfer the octopus to the lentil pan and add the tomatoes, lemon and olive oil.
  5. Garnish with basil and thyme and serve.


Daniel Park, chef at Komah restaurant

“The tteokguk is a kind of soup, prepared with rice dough, some kind of broth, mandu [o guioza coreano] and garnishes like nori and chives. The dish symbolizes prosperity and hope, which is why all Koreans eat as a family on January 1st,” explains the chef.

Yield: 4 servings


3 eggs

1 teaspoon milk

salt to taste

2 liters of beef broth

400 g of rice pasta

12 mandu (available at Korean grocery stores)

20 g chopped nori seaweed

50 g chopped chives

Chopped pepper to taste


  1. Make an omelette with beaten eggs, milk and salt; cut into strips and book.
  2. Heat the broth, add the rice noodles and mandu and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Place the pasta and the mandu in the center of the plates, fill it with the broth around it and finish with the seaweed, the chives, the omelette and the pepper.


Clarice Reichstul, chef at Shoshana Delishop and events company Paca Polaca

“On December 31st, I repeat the traditions of the Jewish New Year. The food must be sweet, so that the year is not bitter, and I always make challah, round braided bread, whose shape marks the cycle of life – because it has no beginning nor end, it symbolizes continuity”, teaches the chef.


2 tablespoons dry yeast

500 ml of warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

5 eggs

½ cup of sugar

1 tablespoon salt

½ cup vegetable oil

1.3 kg all-purpose flour (9 ¼ cups)

100 g of raisins

30 g of sesame


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar, beat well and let stand for 10 minutes, until bubbling.
  2. Beat 4 eggs in a bowl, add salt, ½ cup of sugar and oil and beat again. Add the flour little by little to form a soft dough – start with a wooden spoon and move on to using your hands.
  3. Knead the dough vigorously for 15 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour so it is not sticky.
  4. Add the raisins, pour a little more oil and turn the dough until it is all greased. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise, in a warm or muggy place, for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Knead a little more, make a wide roll, with one end thinner than the other and, in a greased form, roll it up like a snail. Let it rest for 1 hour, until it doubles in size, brush with the remaining egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 30 to 40 minutes.

Old Custom

Christopher Carijó, head bartender at Preto Cozinha restaurant

“At home, I usually blow cinnamon every first day of the month, to renew energy and attract prosperity. I place a handful in the palm of my hand and blow, facing in front of the front door. On the first day of the year is no different, and this ritual gains even more importance. Inspired by it, I created a drink smoked with cinnamon, the Velho Costume, a reinterpretation of the Old Fashioned, to drink after the sympathy”, explains Carijó.


70 ml of amburana cachaça

10 ml of bay leaf syrup (boil 100 ml of water with 100 g of sugar, turn off the heat, add 7 bay leaves and wait to cool down)

7 dash of Angostura

1 cinnamon stick for smoking

Orange peel, without the white part, to finish


  1. Mix the cachaça, syrup and angostura well with plenty of ice. Reserve.
  2. Break the cinnamon stick over a stone and burn it with a blowtorch or any other flame. Close this red-hot cinnamon with a glass, until it retains a lot of smoke.
  3. Turn the glass over and pour the drink into it immediately, topped with the orange peel.

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