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The History of the Vindaloo Curry

Kendra Phillips

Posted on March 31 2022

The Vindaloo curry's backstory is as intriguing as its flavour. While the cuisine's origins are linked to European colonial conquest and appropriation, the dish is a poster child for global integration. It combines ingredients such as Indian curry spices and culinary cultures from three continents to produce an exuberant mix of flavours. The Vindaloo is a classic food from Goa, an Indian state on the country's southwestern coast, where the Catholic community thrives. However, it comes from Portugal, 5,500 miles to the west, when an older version of the dish was brought to Goa by Portuguese explorers in the early 15th century.

"Vindaloo" is derived from the Portuguese word "Vinha De Alhos," which refers to the dish's two key ingredients, "Vinho" and "Alhos". Initially, it was a watery stew in Portugal cooked with pork or beef and vinegar and garlic. However, after the Portuguese moved to India, it was entirely transformed with the inclusion of spices and chillies, and it has since become one of the world's spiciest and most popular curry meals. As a result, Vindaloo is not as thick as a Korma, and it has less gravy than other curries. It also uses a lot of oil and Indian curry spices in its preparation, and because the vinegar and other flavours seep into the dish, it tastes even better the next day or two after it's been cooked. The dish's spice can be adjusted to taste by increasing or decreasing the amount of Indian curry spices used. However, it's important not to lose the vinegar flavour, as Vindaloo's distinct flavour comes solely from the vinegar. It's made with meat, pig, chicken, fish, and vegetables like brinjals, potatoes, and peas.

Because there was no wine vinegar in India, Franciscan priests made their own from palm wine. Tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamoms, and other regional seasonings were used. The most important addition was a legacy of Portugal's global empire: chilli peppers, which were imported from the Americas to India. Between 1797 and 1813, the British were thrilled to discover Indian cuisine that combined East and West and Christian Goans. They were eager to prepare beef and pork dishes popular with ex-pats, free of caste and religious restrictions. Vindaloo dishes in early British India cookbooks were true to the Goan original. However, when transported to England, the meal suffered the same fate as many other Indian curry spices: it became another hot curry. The sharpness of vinegar faded away with the practice of marinating the meat, and the balance of spices was lost beneath a searing overabundance of chiles. The varieties of Indian curry spices in Goa still incorporate cinnamon and cardamom that add earthy elegance to the dish and keep it from being too hot.

Making your curries at home is often too complex and time-consuming. There's a lot to do, from finding spices to finding the perfect recipe and accurately measuring out the right amounts of spice. The Curry Traders' mission was to overcome these challenges with our easy-to-use curry kits, which include everything you need - including tried-and-true recipes - to make the excellent curry at home and impress your family and friends with any curry enthusiast. We make cooking curry at home simple by providing easy-to-follow recipes that keep original traditional flavours.