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Vindalho ingredients in a picture with portugese tile work, seashells & palm leaves

Goa Cultural Week | How Goan's reinvented the Portugese Vindalho

Written by: Aditi Gupta



Time to read 4 min

Goa Carnival & Goan Culture

As we gear up for the Goan carnival from 10th to the 13th of February , we celebrate the spirit of Goa and its indomitable spirit…
Goa and Goenchi people are proud of their heritage that outlasted the colonial influence even though the state gained a very late independence. The Goan people not only preserve their own identity but also influenced their colonizers. One such example lies in the evolution of the Vindalho or Vindaloo ( spelled correct either way) !

The Portugese Vin d'Alho & Goa's Vindaloo

The remnants of Portuguese architecture, culture and zeitgeists live on in Goa. What also lives on is the cultural symbolism of the Goan people, the fishermen communities that have preserved the checkered weave, the vegetarian cuisine. Goa is truly a melting pot, and one of the delicacies that came out fused with Indian spices and Portuguese condiments was theVindalho

Vindalho boasts of a captivating history and then a vast trail from Portugal to the rest of the world. The term "Vindalho" originates from the Portuguese dish "Carne de Vinha d'Alhos," translating to "meat with wine and garlic."

During the 16th century, when Portugal established colonies in Goa, their culinary influences were introduced to the region. The original Portuguese dish featured marinated meat in wine, garlic, and various spices. However, to cater to local tastes and ingredient availability in Goa, the recipe underwent modification by substituting wine with palm vinegar (abundant in the region) and incorporating local spices like cumin, coriander, and chili peppers. This adaptation gave rise to the Goan Vindalho.

The dish gained widespread popularity, extending beyond Goa to become a staple in Indian restaurants nationally and internationally. Renowned for its bold and spicy flavors, Vindalho, traditionally made with pork, has also been adapted to include chicken, lamb, or other proteins, catering to diverse preferences.

It has evolved into an iconic and beloved dish, celebrated for its distinctive combination of tangy, spicy, and aromatic elements. Its historical journey serves as a testament to the culinary fusion brought about by cultural exchanges between Portugal and India during the colonial era.

The ‘Carne de Vinha d'Alhos’ Recipe 

While each culture including the West Indians, and Hawaiians adapted the dish to their taste and availability of local ingredients, we tried finding the traditional recipe from some portuguese sources.

  • Wine: Red wine is traditionally used for marination.
  • Garlic: A significant amount of garlic is essential for the dish. Alhos means garlic in portuguese, so yes it is an essential.
  • Vinegar: Red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar is commonly used.
  • Spices: A blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, cloves, and bay leaves.
  • Meat: Typically, pork is used, but other meats like chicken or beef can be used.
  • Marination: Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, mix the wine, minced garlic, vinegar, and the spices to create a marinade. Place the meat in the marinade, ensuring it is well-coated. Allow it to marinate for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

    Cooking:In a pot or deep pan, heat some oil. Brown the marinated meat on all sides to seal in the flavors. Pour the remaining marinade over the meat and add additional water if needed.
    Simmering:Allow the meat to simmer until it is cooked through and the flavors have melded together. The slow cooking process helps tenderize the meat.
    Adjust Seasoning.Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning as needed. Some versions may include additional spices or herbs.
    Serving: Serve the Carne de Vinha d'Alhos hot, often accompanied by sides like rice or potatoes.
Vindaloo served the Goan way.

The Goan Twist & Spices in Vindalho 

Chef Crescentia Feranandes highlights the differences between Cochin-style Vindalho and the traditional Goan version. “The Cochin version bears a closer resemblance to the Portuguese Carne de Vinha d’Alhos. Our rendition tones down the spiciness but emphasizes the use of garlic. Unlike the Goan Vindalho, our recipe excludes spices such as pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. Similar to the Goan style, we abstain from incorporating potatoes or tomatoes. In our household, I often blend Goan and Kerala Anglo-Indian culinary elements, deviating from strict traditional dishes during Christmas. This makes our Pork Vindalho a perfect and adaptable dish for the occasion.”

Pork Vindalho  


  • Diced fatty pork with skin – 1 kg 

  • Cumin seeds - 2 tbsp

  • Mustard seeds - 2 tbsp

  • Garlic - 10-12 cloves

  • Dry red chillies - 5-6

  • Turmeric - 1 tsp

  • Onion - 1 large

  • Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tbsp

  • Vinegar - 1 cup

  • Salt to taste

  • Any refined oil - 2 tbsp


  • Soak chillies, cumin, mustard, and garlic in 1/4 cup vinegar for 4-5 hours.

  • Marinate pork with 1 tsp salt, turmeric powder, and ginger/garlic paste.

  • Grind soaked ingredients and the onion to a smooth paste. Heat oil, lower the flame, and fry the ground masala on low heat until the oil separates.

Blend in the pork, fry well, and add salt, and 1/2 cup vinegar. Add a pinch of sugar. Mix well and cook on slow fire until the meat is tender, or pressure cook for 10-12 minutes. Check for vinegar once it is done and add more if need be.


So Are there any potatoes in the Vindalho? 

One colonizers misappropriation is the special addition of the other!
The tale of the Vindalho doesn’t end here. It’s one of the most sought after dishes in Britain when it comes to Indian Curries. The British loved the sharp and spicy Vindalho.
Since most Indian restaurants in UK are run by Bangladeshi & Pakistani immigrants, the ‘aloo’ (common subcontinent term for potato) was believed to be a quintessential ingredient in the curry, and to the amusement and the plight of its origin, the humble spud found it’s place in the dish.

To each his own but our guess is that Goa pulled a fast one on both cultures. 

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