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Vindaloo – Portugal’s Gift to Indian Cuisine

The fiery hot Goan Vindaloo curry referred to by many curry aficionados as the King of Curries is today a signature dish of Indian restaurants the world over.

Vindaloo was introduced to Goa in the 15th century by Portuguese sailors who for their long sea voyages preserved their meats in wine-vinegar and garlic known as Carne de Vinha d’Alhos. These meats mainly pork was also cooked in this wine-vinegar and garlic marinade giving it its unique taste. Local garbled pronunciation of this Portuguese dish Carne de Vinha d’Alhos turned it into Vindaloo.

As many locals belonged to faiths that forbade the consumption of wine and as vinegar was unknown to the Goans at that time these ingredients were replaced with a souring agent of tamarind and pepper. Later Franciscan priests were able to distil vinegar from coconut toddy, the local brew and this was employed. As many Goans were converted to Catholicism they became free of caste and religious restrictions and were free to eat pork, beef and other meats and offal. Pork Vindaloo became the favourite to this day.

To suit Goan tastes local ingredients such as black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard seeds, tamarind, turmeric and other spices and herbs were added in. The most important ingredient of all was when the Portuguese introduced chillies from the Americas to India and this was also incorporated which gave Vindaloo its fiery fame. Vindaloo is undoubtedly a lasting gift from Portugal to Indian Cuisine.

By Joao “Bosco” Correa


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