From Portugal With Love (Chicken Vindaloo)

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From Portugal With Love (Chicken Vindaloo)

Condimantra From Portugal With Love (Chicken Vindaloo) Indian Dishes

Chicken Vindaloo

Wine lovers usually take their metaphors lightly. For those who believe that wine is bottled poetry may not have taken time out to experience the ballad of wine preparation on a plate: Carne de vinha d’alhos, the Portuguese dish made of meat marinated in wine vinegar and garlic, which is also fondly known and served as Vindaloo.

The vindaloo clearly was one of the greatest Portuguese imports to India. It made its way in the 15th century along with Portuguese explorers, who preserved raw ingredients in wooden barrels, containing alternate layers of pork and garlic soaked in wine. In Goa, it changed the flavour. Since there was no wine-vinegar available in India, the Franciscan priests fermented palm wine and added local ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom[1].

Chilli peppers, the most important ingredient in vindaloo, is another thing that came as part of the package. The Portuguese sourced the chilis from Mexico and introduced it to India. When they occupied India, they were also delighted to meet Christian Goan cooks, who, free of caste and religious restrictions, happily prepared beef and pork dishes for them. The Portuguese governed Goa until 1960, and by then vindaloo had attained a unique identity.

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[2]. The balance of different spices was lost under a blistering excess of chilis, and today it is beyond doubt one of the spiciest and most favourite curry dishes in the world.

In India, most restaurants serve the dish with lamb or chicken, where the meat is marinated in vinegar, sugar, ginger, chilli pods, cumin, cardamom, cloves, pimento, tamarind, cinnamon, mustard seeds, coriander, and turmeric overnight. It is neither thick as a korma nor does it have as much gravy as the curries, but it still requires a lot of oil in its preparation and tastes fantastic if it’s eaten a day or two after it is cooked[3].

In fact, the dish is so popular that it has given rise to region-specific variations. Many restaurants in North India prepare chicken vindaloo with potatoes as the name elicits a linguistic connection with aaloo (the Hindi word for potato). In East India, there’s another version called tindaloo, which is a tad spicier than vindaloo. These two dishes are sometimes omitted from the menu because they are regarded as too spicy, but there’s always space for a special request from a wine connoisseur, who between drinks likes to relish the spice just the way he relishes his metaphors.


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