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Vindaloo vs. Madras — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Urooj Arif — Updated on April 26, 2024
Vindaloo is a hot, vinegar-flavored curry from Goa, known for its fiery spiciness and tangy depth; Madras curry, originating from Tamil Nadu, offers a similarly high heat but with a richer, tomato-based sauce.
Vindaloo vs. Madras — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Vindaloo and Madras


Key Differences

Vindaloo, a Goan curry, incorporates Portuguese influences, emphasizing vinegar and garlic in its base, making it distinctively tangy and intense. In contrast, Madras curry, hailing from the south of India, relies on a combination of tomatoes and a variety of spices, creating a deeper, more aromatic flavor profile.
While Vindaloo traditionally uses pork as its primary ingredient, reflecting its Portuguese-Goan heritage, Madras curry is more versatile, commonly prepared with beef, chicken, or lamb. This flexibility makes Madras curry a popular choice in diverse culinary settings.
The heat in Vindaloo comes primarily from chili peppers blended into its paste, combined with the sharpness of vinegar. On the other hand, Madras curry achieves its warmth through a liberal use of red chilies and black pepper, complemented by a subtle hint of coconut.
Vindaloo is typically enjoyed with rice or bread like naan to balance its robust flavors. Whereas Madras curry is often served with rice, parotta, or dosa, which help to absorb its rich, spicy sauce and enhance the dining experience.
In terms of popularity, Vindaloo holds a special place in Goan and global Indian cuisine for those who prefer an intensely spicy and somewhat acidic dish. Madras curry, meanwhile, enjoys widespread popularity across India and in Indian restaurants worldwide, appealing to those who enjoy depth and heat.

Comparison Chart


Goa, with Portuguese influence
Tamil Nadu, South India

Base Ingredients

Vinegar, garlic, chili peppers
Tomatoes, chili peppers, coconut

Common Proteins

Pork (traditional), chicken or lamb
Chicken, lamb, beef

Flavor Profile

Tangy, very spicy
Rich, spicy, slightly acidic


Rice, naan bread
Rice, parotta, dosa

Compare with Definitions


A popular dish in Goan and Indian restaurants worldwide.
Vindaloo is a must-try for anyone who enjoys spicy Indian cuisine.


Can be made with various meats or even vegetarian.
He ordered a lamb Madras, enjoying the tender meat in the spicy sauce.


A spicy, tangy curry originally from Goa, influenced by Portuguese cuisine.
I ordered a pork vindaloo to experience its unique blend of spices and vinegar.


Features a rich, red sauce made with tomatoes and spices.
The tomato base of the Madras curry adds a beautiful color and rich flavor.


Known for its intense heat and bold flavors.
She loves the fiery taste of vindaloo, especially with a side of cool yogurt.


A hot curry named after the city of Madras (now Chennai).
Madras curry's heat comes from the liberal use of chilies.


Often contains a significant amount of vinegar and garlic.
The vindaloo's tanginess comes from the vinegar added during its preparation.


Incorporates elements like coconut and black pepper.
The subtle hint of coconut in the Madras curry beautifully balances its spiciness.


Typically made with pork, but variations include other meats.
The chicken vindaloo at the restaurant was as spicy as its traditional pork counterpart.


Commonly served in Indian restaurants across the globe.
For a taste of authentic South Indian spice, try the Madras curry.


Vindaloo or vindalho is an Indian curry dish, which is originally from Goa, based on the Portuguese dish carne de vinha d'alhos. It is known globally in its British Indian form as a staple of curry house and Indian restaurant menus, and is often regarded as a fiery, spicy dish.


Former name (until 1995) for Chennai


A highly seasoned dish of Indian origin made from meat or seafood cooked in a sauce of vinegar, red chilis, garlic, tamarind, and spices.


Former name (until 1968) for the state of Tamil Nadu


A blend of chilis, tamarind, ginger, cumin, and mustard seeds, originally from Goa.


A lightweight, often plain-woven cotton cloth, usually with a plaid, striped, or checked pattern.


A hot curry made with this spice.


A similar lightweight patterned cloth made of silk or rayon.


A large handkerchief of brightly colored silk or cotton, often worn as a turban.


A brightly colored cotton fabric with a checked or striped pattern.


A large handkerchief of this fabric, worn on the head in the West Indies.


A large silk-and-cotton kerchief, usually of bright colors, such as those often used by negroes for turbans.
A black woman in blue cotton gown, red-and-yellow madras turban . . . crouched against the wall.


A light patterned cotton fabric.


A state in southeastern India on the Bay of Bengal (south of Andhra Pradesh); formerly Madras


A city in Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal; formerly Madras


A light patterned cotton cloth

Common Curiosities

Can vindaloo be made vegetarian?

Yes, although traditional vindaloo is meat-based, there are vegetarian versions using potatoes or paneer.

What makes vindaloo unique among Indian curries?

Vindaloo stands out due to its Portuguese influence and the inclusion of vinegar in its spice mix.

How has vindaloo's recipe changed outside India?

In Western countries, vindaloo often sees a reduction in spice levels to cater to local palates.

Does vindaloo always include pork?

Traditionally, yes, but many restaurants offer chicken or lamb versions to accommodate dietary preferences.

What is the best way to mitigate vindaloo's spiciness while eating?

Accompanying it with rice or bread helps balance the intense spice.

What side dishes pair well with vindaloo?

Cucumber raita or a simple dal can complement the heat of vindaloo nicely.

Is vindaloo the spiciest Indian curry?

It is among the spiciest, though its heat level can vary depending on the recipe.

How can I make a less spicy version of vindaloo at home?

Reduce the number of chili peppers and increase the amount of vinegar or sugar to balance the flavor.

Are there any health benefits associated with eating vindaloo?

The capsaicin in chili peppers used in vindaloo can boost metabolism and offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

What distinguishes Madras curry from other Indian curries?

Madras curry is notable for its heavy use of hot chilies and a deep red color, typically from tomatoes and red chili powder.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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