The Revenge of the Vindaloo

An Amazing Journey: Then and Now

Vindaloo is that fiery, hot curry dish out of the southern region of India – Goa. It’s a standard of Goan cuisine that has the Portuguese to thank for; it is not Indian in origin, hence. Vindaloo came from the Portuguese term carne de vinha d’alhos, or ‘meat in garlic wine marinade’. It incorporates meat that is usually pork, marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic.

When explorers from Portugal arrived in India in the 15th century, they brought along the recipe. However, wine-vinegar did not exist in India at the time, so Franciscan priests fermented their own from palm wine. For spice, local ingredients were used – tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. And of course, chili peppers, imported from the Americas.

When the British came to Indian soil in the latter 18th century, they saw vindaloo already a part of Goan cuisine. They were happy that the Christian Goans, free of religious restrictions, were making the beef and pork dishes that they love. The original Goan vindaloo wasn’t really that spicy, but as it is with other Indian recipes, when the British went back to their country, the dishes had an excess of chiles. However, today in Goa, the old versions of vindaloo can still be found – earthy elegance with just enough spice-sweetness.

Vindaloo one of the few Indian curries that’s traditionally made with pork, Usually, it’s pork belly and shoulder, and also pork leg. Pork leg is traditional, juicy without the belly’s large chunks of fat. Chicken thighs are also popular, as well as lamb shoulders. The British prefer lamb. Marinating the meat in a few hours should do it; more might overcook the proteins. For the curry, starting with the masala mix, chilli is not the principal ingredient. Sweet spices are used – cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, plus black pepper, and the nutty flavours of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Chili is added for color.

The vinegar used is originally wine-vinegar by the Portuguese; then palm vinegar was adapted. Outside of Goa, finding these can be difficult. So sometimes, coconut vinegar will do, or white and malt vinegar, white-wine vinegar, or cider vinegar. Liquid tamarind as another substitute. For vegetables, Indian pink onion, otherwise, yellow. garlic and ginger add to the chutney-like effect. Also, tomatoes, green chillies, or curry leaves. Soft brown sugar to taste.

Tasting the Portuguese Influence in Bellevue

Enjoy an iconic Goan specialty. Our vindaloo variants are some of our popular selections at Spice Route. Have lamb vindaloo or have our take on seafood vindaloo – fish or shrimp. Pair with our other classics.