Goan Cuisine and the Portuguese

June 25, 2021

Pictured above: Vindaloo, the famous Goan curry.

Goa: the smallest state in India located on the West coast, looking onto the Arabian Sea. Today we are writing about the food of Goa and how its cuisine was shaped by the Portuguese invaders who established themselves there in 1510.

The Portuguese fort in Goa was the first major settlement made by Europeans in India, forming the heart of the Estada da India or ‘State of India’. This Portuguese expression referred to the Portuguese trading posts and settlements stretching all the way from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to Timor, the small and troubled island between Indonesia and Australia. The Portuguese were insistent on suppressing local customs, introducing Christianity (with the help of the Inquisition) and adding beef and pork to the local diet.

Pork is uncommonly popular in Goa and the region is famous for its sausages as well dishes such as sorpotel (a stew traditionally made with pork blood, meat, liver, vinegar and tamarind) and Feijoada, a pork and bean stew. The Portuguese dish vinha d’alhos (meat and garlic in wine) was also transformed into one of the most famous dishes in English curry houses: vindaloo. In India this dish would be made sour by adding the dried rind of the kokum fruit.

Many of the spices grown in India made their way into Portuguese cuisine; coriander, tumeric, ginger and cinnamon being very popular, although they also brought many different ingredients into the country from their trading posts around the world. Potatoes, tobacco, peanuts and okra are just a few of the additions made to the country’s cuisine.

Bread also made its way into Goa and today takes many forms. These include pav (from the Portuguese pau, meaning bread), which are bread rolls filled with butter and spices; bibinca, a layered cake made from egg yolks, coconut milk and flour; and, finally, boliho de coco which are small cakes flavoured with coconut.


This article features the following businesses:

Mughal Dynasty

Mughal Dynasty

Classic Indian curries and tandoori dishes served in a smart, long-running restaurant and takeaway.

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