The Indian cuisine as we see today is an outcome and influence of many cross-cultural influences. When we say cross cultural influence, it basically denotes how eating habits evolved and changed throughout history and there is no dearth in India. One of the prominent communities that left there impact on out habits were the Portuguese. They left a remarkable mark on the Goan food graph as we see today, but one of the dish that Goa swears by the Vindaloo, the dish is known to have been first found its way to Goa in India through Portuguese explorers came around the 15th century, and then later went on to be adapted by the local community. With the origin lying in Portugal, Lizzie Collingham in her book Curry: A tale of Cooks and Conquerors says Vindaloo is normally regarded as an Indian curry, but in fact is a Goan adaptation of the Portuguese dish ‘carne de vinho e alhos’. 

Vindaloo can be easily termed as the iconic dish representing the cross-cultural influence, be is in terms of ingredients and also the culinary cultures that came from the three different continents and created exhilarating blend of flavours. The word vindaloo is an outcome of the popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d’alhos (which is when meat is marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic). As it came and got adapted in India, it got tweaked due to some local conditions; firstly there was no wine-vinegar in India so it got replaced by palm wine along with some local ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and more being added to dish. Remember this is where it gets all it’s aroma from. The Portuguese marinated the meat in vinegar which helped it to stay in good condition all through their travel. In the early British India cookbooks, the recipe of this dish had remained close to the Goan original.

Today as a traditional dish of the Catholic community of Goa, the meat was preserved in wine, which helped to release the unique tangy flavour to the dish. The Goan version today sees chilli, ginger, vinegar, black pepper, cumin, turmeric and curry leaves, but the key to the dish is the marination, that’s where the trick lies for a good Vindaloo. The basic sauce and local spices make what a Goan Vindaloo is today. 

Not to miss that Chillies, tomatoes, potatoes too were a gift from Portugal and how much one loves to deny still their introduction of new ingredients, is today an essential part of Indian food. Author Collingham also highlights that before chillies the Goan only knew about black pepper being the hottest chilli. This sweet and sour curry, and when done right, the spiciness is kept in balance.

It’s not just Vindaloo that Goa boast about from the Portuguese but many more dishes that we savour today. From Pav to Cottage Cheese to many more let’s take a bow and say a little Thank you to them for giving them to us.