On This Day - Vasco da Gama Reached India in 1498: Know About the Portuguese Influences on Indian Cuisine

The Portuguese left a significant mark on India's culinary scene.

Vasco da Gama landed on the Western Sea coast of India on this very date back in 1498. The Portuguese explorer is hailed as the first to connect Europe and Asia by an ocean route. This paved the way for global sea-based multiculturalism at the time!

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The Portuguese set up a colony in India in the early 16th century (first in Cochin, and then Goa). They spread to other parts of the country over the next four centuries, leaving a strong impact on the local culture.

It is no surprise that the Portuguese have a strong influence on Indian cuisine. They introduced various new ingredients to India, which are now integral parts of our cuisine. Also, several techniques of Portuguese cuisine were adapted to Indian food.

About the Portuguese Influence on Indian Cuisine

The Portuguese ruled Goa until 1961, and hence, Goan cuisine holds a significant Portuguese influence. For instance, Vindaloo is derived from the Portuguese dish “Carne de Vinha d’Alhos". The Portuguese dish was modified in India, with the addition of a few herbs, spices, and potatoes. The list also includes balchao, sorpotel, sausages, and sweet Goan wine.

Besides, Portuguese influence is evident in other cuisines of India as well. Not many know that pav (a type of bread) is actually a contribution by the Portuguese. They introduced us to the concept of yeast, making of cheese, using vinegar in dishes, and more.

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They introduced numerous new cooking techniques to Bengali cuisine. They taught us how to use white flour in making luchis. Also, according to food historians, Portuguese baking methods are still being used in Kolkata to bake puffs and pastries.

They influenced various sweet dishes here as well. The most popular sweet on the list is kidyo, which is usually enjoyed by Goan and Mangalorean Catholics during Christmas.

Also, surprising as it may sound, it was the Portuguese who made fruits like papaya, guava, pineapple, etc. popular in India.