A Conversation for Advice for Eating in an 'Indian' Restaurant in Britain

Vind'aloo'?

Post 1

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

A great entry for someone who loves Indian food but rarely gets the chance to eat it smiley - blue - just one item on which I beg to differ, though.

'Vindaloo' actually comes from 'Vind'alho' - which refers to the wine and garlic sauce introduced by the Portuguese (along with the chillies) and Anglicised during the 19th Century - which probably explains the shift in spelling from 'alho' to 'aloo'. A vindaloo may, or may not, contain potatoes, but it always contains vinegar (in place of the wine) and garlic; oh, and a few chillies too, I'm told smiley - whistle.

Madhur Jaffrey once described an authentic 'vindaloo' taste in the preamble to one of her egg recipes as 'Hot, sour, garlicky and just very slightly sweet'. Indeed, her Duck Vindaloo (listed on the BBC Food pages) doesn't contain potatoes, but it does require 10 cloves of garlic!smiley - yikes

smiley - dog


Vind'aloo'?

Post 2

Mu Beta

I've heard this story before, and it is indeed very plausible. smiley - ok

It doesn't take away from the fact that every vindaloo I've eaten contains potatoes, though. smiley - winkeye

B


Vind'aloo'?

Post 3

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

Until I read Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery book, I'd always thought 'aloo' referred to potatoes too, and never could understand why her recipe for Pork Vindaloo and Vinegared Eggs didn't include any.smiley - doh

smiley - winkeye aside, I promise I'm not talking through my hat here - and I'm not disputing the fact that vindaloos may or may not contain potatoes - but the signature ingredients are always vinegar and garlic (lots and lots of garlic) smiley - dragon.

I've never heard the "'aloo' comes from the potatoes" explanation - I'd just assumed it meant that because of 'Saag Aloo' and suchlike. On the basis of that, I guess it's just that everyone else has made the same assumption. Meat is a lot more expensive in India, so it's always been quite common to stretch out the meat content with potatoes in less affluent homes (or replace it completely in poor homes where meat is completely unaffordable). It's probable that potatoes have become another integral ingredient - but they're not the reason the dish is called vindaloo.

Just to be a total and utter pedant (smiley - geek) here's the etymology from Chambers Reference Dictionary:

ETYMOLOGY: 19c: probably from Portuguese vin d'alho wine and garlic sauce.

The Portuguese were in Goa long before the Brits were, and they were the ones who introduced Chillies to India (thanks guys! Never mind our taste for Port - that's the real reason we've never gone to war with you!). The Vindaloo was developed by Goan Christians - hence the Portuguese influence on the dish.

'Alho' probably got altered to 'Aloo' by the British when they first encountered it. Given that all Officers were expected to be fluent in at least one Indian language (though a lot of them just scraped by), someone somewhere would have known that 'Aloo' means 'potato'.

I imagine there were conversations like this going on all over the region:

Scene: Officer's Club somewhere in Goa.

Brit Officer (pointing at dish): What's that stuff?
Khidmatgar: Pork Vin d'alho, Sahib.
Brit Officer: Is it hot?
Khidmatgar: Very, Sahib.
Brit Officer (to his mates): Hmm. Vindaloo - what do you think?
Others: I'll give it a go./Why not?/Okay.
('Vindaloo' is served - they tuck in and are awed by the Chilli level)
Brit Officer (being showoff): Ah - that's why it's called vindaloo - it's got vinegar and potatoes in it.
Others: Oh yeah.

And a misnomer was born.

smiley - dog


Vind'aloo'?

Post 4

Conceited Little Megapuppy - Inbound traveller and Unas Matriarch

Having said that - I wish they'd stretched it out with chickpeas or some other pulse instead. There wouldn't be any confusion between 'Ahlo' and 'Chhole'!

smiley - dog


Vind'aloo'?

Post 5

Mu Beta

smiley - laugh Alright, you got me more or less convinced.

It's odd how many of my entries seem to have harked back to Indian colonialism at one point or another. I got into a shocking debate on the subject when writing about snooker. smiley - winkeye

B


Key: Complain about this post

Vind'aloo'?

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more