Portugal is one of the many coutries that came to India and stayed back for many years. Although Portugal was soon relegated by the Britishers, the influence that these people left on the cuisine of Goa is still very much alive.
The expeditions of ancient Portuguese rulers have contributed massively to the development of some of the most renowned cuisines in the world. There are so many cooking practices that have been inspired by Portugal that were distributed in various parts of the world because of the travels of Portugal rulers. Portuguese first came to India in the late 1400s. They were always intrigued by the prosperity and versatility of the country. One of the most important personalities to come to India from Portugal is Vasco da Gama. He came to India through the eastern coast of Africa which also eventually became a Portuguese colony.
Just like Muslim invaders, the Portuguese also essentially travelled to India for wealth purposes. The effect of Portuguese culture on Indian cuisine was twofold. There was the export of food ingredients from both ends. Also, a lot of cooking techniques were introduced by the Portuguese in India. The most influenced regions in India by Portuguese culture were mostly Goa and the nearby areas like Daman and Diu. Chillies, Tomatoes and Potatoes are one of the most important ingredients in India. These are the base ingredients for a lot of Indian recipes.
Think about any recipe like Bhindi masala, Aloo Gobi, chicken tikka, masala and butter, or chicken. Can you think of making any of these recipes without using either tomatoes, potatoes or chillies? Well, the answer is a clear-cut no. very much like Italian cooking Indian cooking also heavily relied on spices for the longest time. It was only after the arrival of the Portuguese after the 1500s, that Indian people started using tomatoes and chillies in their dishes.
After the establishment of the Portuguese in Goa, many other European leads from the rest of the world also started coming to Goa for their benefit. The exchange between these countries led to the training of many lesser-known ingredients which further heavily impacted the cuisine in Goa.
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Other than tomatoes, potatoes and chillies. Some other famous ingredients that the Portuguese brought to India were beans, guavas, peanuts, cashews, guavas, peppers, pumpkins, and squashes. These were bought by Portuguese from America and after the Portuguese came to India they became equally popular in the country. During that time Portugal was also dominating South America, especially Brazil. vinegar also became very prevalent in Indian dishes like Azhar in chutneys. Neither Hindus or Muslims knew how to use vinegar before the arrival of Portugal in India. This proves that there is no authentic cuisine that typically belongs to just one country. Even the recipes that we believe are only specific to our own countries are a result of cultural amalgamation.
As time passed, the Portuguese became successful in imposing Catholic traditions in Goa. The reminiscence of the same can still be seen in the architecture of Goa and the eating preferences of the native people in Goa. Due to the presence of many contradicting cultures, Goan food has never been very straightforward. Portugal also recreated their home dishes in Goa to the best of their abilities as per the availability of ingredients. The shortage of the key ingredients led to another version of famous Portuguese dishes. These dishes have closer flavour links to the Konkani Cuisine. The unavailability of important ingredients to make authentic Portuguese dishes led to the creation of Indo-Portuguese cuisine.
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Because of the presence of the Portuguese, many people in Goa started adopting Christianity. Before that Goa was dominantly filled with the Hindu population. This is how pork in particular became extremely popular in India. Even during the Muslim reign pork was not used in the country. The Portuguese also bought their wine from India. They not only used wine for drinking purposes, but also it was an ingredient that was heavily used in the recipes. Mostly people of Indian origin cooked Indo-Portuguese food by replacing wine with vinegar.
You know how paav is such a famous and widely consumed product in Maharashtra and Goa. There are so many Indian recipes that are made with the help of pav. This includes Paav Bhaji off, vada paav and maska paav, dabeli and so many other things. Although it may seem like paav has always been there It was actually both by Portuguese. It was the Portuguese who introduced the concept of baking in India. Paav remained limited to only certain parts of India as Indian people only consumed flatbreads like roti and naan. It was only in the 1950s and 60s that dishes having pav became so popular in India.
The most popular dish of Portuguese origin in India today is vindaloo. This is a popular curry which is available at a lot of restaurants in Goa and even Maharashtra. The original recipe relies heavily on red wine and meat. But in a lot of restaurants, you will find that cooks replace red wine with vinegar to make this spicy curry. In Portuguese it is called vinha d’alhos. This recipe was especially consumed by sellers as having wine in the recipe helps to have a longer shelf life. The Indian version uses Indian ground, spices and vinegar.
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The use of pork in India by Portugal has also led to the making of the recipe of sarapatel. It is a very popular dish in the coastal Konkani areas from Mangalore to Goa. In its real form is inspired by the Portuguese Alentejo area, it is cooked by using pork, offal and the animal's blood. A lot of spices are also added to make it more flavourful, especially in the Atlantic extensions of Portugal. vinegar is also used in the recipe for antibacterial reasons.
Many such recipes in Goa were inspired by the Portuguese reign in India. Although it was brief and soon overpowered by the Britishers, it left an undying impact in Goa that is still very much alive.