Brazil is a grub lover's heaven, where its five regions offer incredible food for an intense culinary journey. Among those regions is a place commonly referred to as the capital of the Brazilian Amazon - downtown Manaus City - a cultural melting pot of the native communities where they proudly display and engage in their cultures and traditions right in the center of the city's beating heart. In the midst of that beating epicenter is one special restaurant that solely serves the indigenous foods of the native Amazonian people, dishes that are made exclusively by them, authentically, with love, care, and respect.

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At Biatüwi, the indigenous team not only prepares and serves their authentic delicacies in a delightfully honest, traditional way, but they also share their cuisine and their culture with outsiders, providing a unique experience to be savored - one that's as deep-rooted in culture as it is culinary. To non-natives, the extraordinary meals may be exotic, but to the people who make it, it is not at all; it is their daily dietary staples enjoyed in their everyday lives, and many guests lucky enough to have visited Biatüwi claim its hardworking, welcoming team seem joyed to invite others to see what it's all about, to discover their indigenous cuisine and longstanding traditions passed down by innumerable generations before them.

Welcome To Biatüwi - An Indigenous Food House In Manaus

Biatüwi is better described as an indigenous food house over a restaurant; the team follows their own logic and rules rather than those of a commercial eatery. Of course, it is indeed a restaurant in terms of exchange of food and service for money, however, there's much more to it than that, for commercial profit appears to take a backseat, overshadowed instead by a commitment to culture and authentic dishes, which are made lovingly by indigenous people according to their traditions, nourishing bodies and souls alike - the way they believe it ought to be.

The food house's location within Manaus is also an important piece of the picture that sets the scene; nestled along a quaint cobbled street in the city's historic part of town, Biatüwi is just a stone's throw away from an ancient indigenous cemetery - a part of the city that's referred to as the ground zero of Manaus. Adorned in purple and white, the mansion in which Biatüwi lies also hosts Bahserikowi - the Center for Indigenous Medicine - making it truly an important place in town for indigenous communities where their culture, medicine, history, and food abound.

Operated by a husband and wife duo, Biatüwi is officially the very first restaurant in Brazil to exclusively serve indigenous cuisine. Although the indigenous population of Brazil consists of almost 900,000 people of around 305 ethnicities, it is also among the only eateries in the country to be first owned by indigenous folk. Furthermore, every single member of the team - from the kitchen to the front of house - are indigenous.

Undeniably, looks may be deceiving at first; Biatüwi's minimalist, modern style doesn't entirely screech "indigenous", however, looking deeper within at the decor and details will put one's initial assumptions to bed. Upon entry, one can spot beautiful trimmings that range from chandeliers to handicraft clay plates and bowls - a subtle nod to Biatüwi's and its team's ethnic roots that are on immediate display for guests to adore.

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The building also plays host to even more cultural practices on top of indigenous gastronomy; in the house is a special room where people arrive for a spiritual connection. It's the place where, right in the open, guests come for consultations with the shaman, who, in certain American and Asian societies, are significant, religious, and wise members of tribal communities believed to connect people with beings in the spirit plane

The Food

The set-up is as much part of the culture as the food and allows staff to work and serve in old-world ways that maintain their proud heritage. Their culture extends right into the kitchen, notably in the form of traditional cooking methods and apparatus, like their moquém. A native piece of technology used in conservation, smoking, and cooking, it's a special kind of square wooden grill with three levels often used by restaurant staff to cook delicious fish dishes as well as various other authentic recipes.

As for the menu, one will find that it's limited with minimal adaptations. Its short yet tasty line-up is an honest reflection of indigenous tradition and food, as well as an acknowledgment of the difficulties of sourcing all ingredients from remote villages - a venture that can sometimes take a week, involving taxing treks over beguiling terrain and kinetic rapids.

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Indeed, the ingredients and raw materials the team acquires are authentically sourced from indigenous communities, which not only helps to uphold connections between the native populace but also to maintain and tell of the importance of the Amazon rainforest and its treasures within. The communities hold their forest dear, viewing it as the passageway to home and the provider of everything they need - a message perfectly delivered at Biatüwi through proud, native dishes in a modest, homely setting that exudes a distinct cultural identity. Impressively, among all the ingredients and spices used by the restaurant, salt is the only one that comes from the industry.

Overall lean and full of flavor, the delicacies available at Biatüwi typically consist of potent combinations of fish, spicy broth, and ant additions. Out of the few meals on offer, the signature dish is "quinhapira" - a flavorsome fish stew prepared with juice extracted from cassava, served with spiced native ants. What's more, Biatüwi's drinks are just as authentic as its cuisine, with a list of traditional fermented beverages that pair properly with the food. There's "aluá" made from smoked pineapple, along with "caxiri" - a unique sample made from purple yam. One can also try "sapó" - another extraordinary drink made from natural guarana grated on a "pirarucu" tongue.

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The Team

The food at Biatüwi and the way it's prepared speaks for itself. But alas, it would not come to be without the team of native people who work wholeheartedly to run the outlet, providing a cozy, homey haven for guests to tuck into their beloved, authentic native cuisine in a comfortable, safe space.

In the kitchen, chef Clarinda Ramos of the Sateré-Mawé community rules the roost, bringing culture to the table (and the city) in the loving form of food. But it wasn't all smooth sailing from the get go; the owners and team did have some difficulties at start up, boasting all the necessary knowledge and experience of indigenous cuisine, cooking, and storage practices, yet lacking funds, tools, and equipment to open an eatery in the city.

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However, all that changed when chef Déborah Shornik stepped in. The São Paulo chef had lived and worked in Manaus since 2016, operating Caxiri - an Amazonian cuisine restaurant situated next to the city's Amazon Theater. She met with Biatüwi coordinator João Paulo and after clocking the lack of indigenous food options in the city, Biatüwi was given the go-ahead, with the team's training then taking place at Caxiri due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Even after playing such a vital role in Biatüwi's launching, training, and eventual success, Déborah only remains as an advisor and consultant, letting the indigenous team of Biatüwi do what they do best in their most authentic methods. The result? One of the most individual, exceptional food houses in Manaus - possibly even the entire country - serves up indigenous delicacies that are as authentic as they are mouth-watering.

Not for those in search of fine gastronomic cuisine and fancy feasts, no, foodies in search of something totally different need to descend to Biatüwi's for a meal. More than just a meal out, guests to this warm, welcoming ethnic eatery can relish a heartfelt experience of culture and food - one that unites people and is sacred to the indigenous communities of the forest. The concept, the cuisine, the culture, and the experience as a whole is a collective that cannot be replicated by just anyone, only those who are genuinely connected to it and its origin.