Blimey: Vindaloo is a Portuguese dish?

And when the Portuguese built up their trading centers on the west coast of India in the 16th century, they threw chilies from the New World into the pot. (Your spicy vindaloo may sound like Hindi, but actually the word derives from the Portuguese terms for its original central ingredients: wine and garlic.)

I knew that chicken tikka was English but not this.

25 comments on “Blimey: Vindaloo is a Portuguese dish?

  1. vin and aloo – makes sense linguistically.

    Mind you, isn’t ‘aloo’ potato in hindi? Potential for confusion.

    Similar confusion over whether ‘curry’ comes from the Tamil ‘kari’ (cooking pot) or the norman ‘curie’ (spiced dishes – cf The Forme of Curie, probably the first cookery book published in the 1300s).

  2. The Portuguese have been pretty active in culinary circles over the years.

    The iconic Japanese dishes of tempura (battered fish/veg) and tonkatsu (deep fried breaded pork loin) were introduced by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries into Nagasaki in the C16th.

  3. Reminds me of the Nullarbor desert. A lot of people think it’s an Aboriginal word, especially the way it’s pronounced around here. It’s actually Latin though – null arbor, no trees.

  4. There is frequently confusion about the ‘aloo’ part especially since sometimes you see restaurants make vindaloo with potato, but it originally comes from “vin d’alho” or something along those lines (alho = garlic). As I understand the Goans got ahold of the recipe and added a s**tload of spices to it, creating what we recognise today…

  5. I cannot imagine you thought that chillies were indigenous to the subcontinent. They come from South America. How do you think they got there?!

    Next you’ll be telling us that the Portuguese introduced the word “thank you” to the Japs!

  6. Matthew L

    Actually Nullabor comes from a political prophesy by the first Governor of the territory: Nullabor from Nu Labour = vast and useless waste of space.

  7. Yes, it is. The original recipe was for pork (Goa is the only place in India where people eat pork) marinaded in vinegar. It was one of the few ways of preserving meat in a tropical climate. As others say, the potato part of the dish was added in confusion with the hindi word aloo.

  8. I thought it was introduced to Goa by the Portugese. Phaal I think derives from the area close to the Persian border….

  9. Curious it derives its name from two of the less identifiable ingredients.
    That generally includes the meat.

  10. Not many people know that Tandoori was actually invented by a sun-bronzed Israeli mentalist, in between bending spoons.

  11. Most countries cuisine develop. Vindaloo is Indian based on Portuguese influences. What would Italian cooking be without tomatoes, introduced from the new world. And the on again off again story about pasta coming from China.

  12. The word ‘vindaloo’ is definitely Goan, that’s clear from eating locally. But the dish they serve there has absolutely nothing in common with the one you’ll get at a curry house: it’s (unsurprisingly) heavy in wine and garlic, almost like a coq au vin would turn out if you put chillies in it and used pork instead of chicken.

    It’s a stretch to claim that the curry house dish is even derived from vindaloo by anything other than name, as it doesn’t have any wine in it, has no more garlic in it than other Indian dishes, doesn’t have pork in it, has potatoes in it – and the Goan version isn’t anywhere near as hot as the curry house version.

    Lotus: that’s an odd way of putting it. Bombay is probably derived from Bom Baim, meaning ‘nice little bay’ (not bahia, which is feminine and so would go to boa). The Shiv Sena and their followers pretend that it’s a corruption of the Marathi word Mumbai, from the goddess Mumba Devi, but there’s no evidence for that at all.

  13. I’m as surprised as you Tim. It’s obvious when you go look it up, but it had never occurred to me before. And I knew about the tikka masala thing too.

    It’s a stretch to claim that the curry house dish is even derived from vindaloo by anything other than name

    This is pretty common. Australian suburban Chinese restaurants have a few standards that don’t in any way resemble their origins. Fortunately, with a large immigrant community here, you can get the real thing if you know where to go.

    Unfortunately (as I’ve discovered) you have to go with someone who can speak Chinese fluently – they don’t have to be racially Chinese, just know the lingo and the dishes – to get the real thing. Otherwise they serve you the oversweetened, bland, for Western idiots version, no matter that you’re doing point-and-nod at the section of the menu in Chinese (did I mention the menus are sometimes divided into Chinese and English sections, and the dishes are different?).

    I will say though, if you go to a Szechuan restaurant with a group of Chinese people who order off menu, be prepared for some serious stomach shock. It was delicious, but I paid severely for that one.

  14. “It’s a stretch to claim that the curry house dish is even derived from vindaloo by anything other than name”
    It’s always been a bone of contention with dining partners that you won’t get me anywhere near a curry house if I can possibly avoid it. That’s not to say I dislike food from the sub-continent. Indian in all it’s many varieties. Pakistani. Bangla. Celanese. It’s probably due to my first experience of the cuisine was in the back room of a greengrocers off Ladbroke Grove, where the proprietor’s wife used to serve a plate of her home cooking, contents unspecified (or maybe unspecifiable), for a half crown. This was in a time when Chinese was dangerously avante gard, spaghetti came in tins & the height of culinary sophistication was scampi-in-a-basket. Since then, numerous acquaintances hailing from said f’orn parts have kept me happily fed on all sorts of delicious delicacies, none of which have even slightly resembled the menu at the Raj Tandoori, High Street, NEware. Likewise, Chinese is eaten in close proximity to Gerrard Street, an obscure restaurant in Bayswater & at one time, a place in Limehouse probably long gone. The dogs were quite partial to chicken chow mein, though, if they came across some on their travels. I did try & keep them away from the partially digested variety.
    I’m now trying desperately, but unsuccessfully, from thinking about donner kebabs.

  15. “Otherwise they serve you the oversweetened, bland, for Western idiots version, no matter that you’re doing point-and-nod at the section of the menu in Chinese (did I mention the menus are sometimes divided into Chinese and English sections, and the dishes are different?).”

    You don’t have to go to suburban Australia to see that (thank god), it’s the same in and around Gerrard and Lisle Streets.

  16. Oh Lord I ate some good food in Goa. The dishes were not things that you would get anywhere else in India, but were obviously Indian influenced.

    There are fascinating Portuguese derived cuisines in places like Melaka and Macao, too. In some cases they are just hanging on. A complex, centuries old kind of cooking that is now only cooked in two restaurants: that kind of thing.

  17. Absolutely. Goan food is some of my favourite Indian food. It’s more established than many of the others: there are a few decent Goan restaurants in Bombay now.

    Pondicherry is interesting, in that although French cuisine is still hanging on there, it seems not to have cross-fertilised with Indian cuisine at all. So while it’s the only place in the entire country that isn’t a 5* hotel where you can get a decent steak (frankly, I don’t want to think about how this works), it’s a steak au poivre avec pommes frites. The Frogs who ran the place until 1962 seem to have applied a 70s Brits in Malaga attitude to cross-fertilisation of cuisines…

  18. That’s interesting john b, Vietnamese cuisine is heavily French-influenced. Definitely some cross pollination there.

  19. VINDALHO is VINDALOO is VINDALO just like a rose is a rose is a rose, though the middle one may be a bit suggestive. Just like its colour, it’s FIRE!

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