Western Indian Cuisine
A dish popular in the Western Indian region of Goa and the Konkan, Vindaloo is dish of pork marinated in wine and garlic.
This famous Indian dish finds its origins is the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos (literally “meat in garlic wine marinade”). The raw ingredients were packed in wooden barrels with alternating layers of pork and garlic and soaked in wine. This allowed Portuguese sailors to keep their food preserved during their long voyages to India.
Once it reached India, local Goan cooks added their own twist using palm vinegar instead of red wine, and adding spices and dried red chilies. The name was also localised to the Vindaloo we all know today.
Most people in the UK know of vindaloo as a tongue-searing curry, but it wasn’t always that way. The word vindaloo is a garbled pronunciation of the popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d’alhos (meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic), which made its way to India in the 15th century along with Portuguese explorers.
Once in India thelocal Goan cooks added their own twist to suit local conditions: There was no wine-vinegar in India, so Franciscan priests fermented their own from palm wine. Regional ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom were added. But the most important addition — the dried red chillies, were imported to India from the Americas. A legacy of Portugal’s once global empire,
When the British occupied India from 1797 to 1813, they were delighted to discover this East-meets-West food, as well as Christian Goan cooks, who, free of caste and religious restrictions, were happy to make pork dishes beloved by expats.
In early British India cookbooks, vindaloo recipes remained close to the Goan original. But the dish gradually met the same fate as many Indian dishes when it was exported to England: It became another hot curry. The tang of vinegar disappeared along with the practice of marinating the meat, and the balance of different spices was lost under a blistering excess of chillies.
Luckily, in at the Indian Food Bazaar, the Pork Vindaloo stays true to the old days when cinnamon and cardamom provided an earthy elegance, and the heat was kept in check.