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Madras vs Vindaloo: What’s the Difference?

Summary of key points

Madras and Vindaloo are both spicy dishes originating from Indian cuisine but differ significantly in their heat level and origins. Madras, named after the city of Madras (now Chennai), typically uses a tomato base with a mix of spices that provide a medium heat level. Vindaloo, originating from Goa, India, is known for its higher level of spiciness, often incorporating vinegar along with a blend of spices including a significant amount of chili peppers.

Have you ever heard of Madras curry and Vindaloo curry but don’t know the difference between them?

If so, look no further!

This post will reveal just what sets these two classic Indian dishes apart.

We’ll explore their histories, ingredients, flavour profiles – plus all the nuances that ultimately make them quite different from each other.

Whether you’re new to exploring Indian cuisine or a seasoned expert looking for more information on Madras vs Vindaloo, this guide offers something for everyone who loves eating delicious food with complex flavours!

What is Madras Curry?

Madras curry is a popular dish primarily associated with South Indian cuisine.

The spice level of Madras curry can vary from moderately spicy to very hot, and it is typically made with a blend of spices including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and mustard seeds.

It gets its name from the south Indian city of Madras (now known as Chennai) which was a major center for trade in India’s colonial past.

When preparing Madras curry, a variety of meat or vegetable options can be used.

Some popular choices done are chicken, lamb, eggplant or spinach.

Its flavour profile depends on the choice of meat or vegetables involved; this results in different textures and consistency for the dish despite being prepared using the same set of spices.

In summary, ‘What is Madras Curry?’, we can say that it is a spiced-up vibrant Indian dish with aromatic flavors contributed by blends of spices such as cumin and coriander.

It has become so iconic that it has found followers globally.

What is Vindaloo Curry?

Vindaloo Curry is a popular dish from the Indian state of Goa.

It is known for its spicy and tangy taste, which makes it stand out from other curries.

Vindaloo Curry has its roots in Portuguese cuisine and is derived from a dish called carne de vinha d’alhos, which was introduced to India by Portuguese explorers.

Vindaloo Curry is considered one of the spiciest curries in Indian cuisine due to its liberal use of red chili powder.

However, spices used may vary depending on the chef or region.

In addition, it’s worth noting that Vindaloo Curry can also be made vegetarian by substituting tofu or potatoes for meat.

Now that we’ve discussed what Vindaloo Curry is, let’s move on to the differences between Madras and Vindaloo curries.

Differences Between Madras and Vindaloo

Madras and Vindaloo are both popular Indian curries, but they have several differences.

Let’s compare them.

Madras curry derives its name from the southern city of Madras (now Chennai).

It is a spicy tomato-based curry with moderate to hot spice levels.

Its main ingredients include turmeric, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and dried red chilies.

It usually contains no coconut milk or cream.

On the other hand, Vindaloo has very hot spice levels and originates from Portuguese-influenced Goan cuisine.

It is made with dried red chili peppers and vinegar or lime juice.

In terms of heat level and flavor profile that comes from the main ingredients used in preparation: while Madras can be spicy due to its use of dried red chilies, mustard seeds and cumin give it a different flavor profile which is not present in Vindaloo.

Suggested accompaniments for Madras curry include papadums (thin, crispy Indian crackers), pickles, and dal (lentil soup).

Vindaloo is typically served with rice or bread like naan or roti.

However, it’s worth noting that the suggested accompaniments can vary depending on the region and traditions in which these curries are served.

In summary, while both Madras and Vindaloo are hot Indian curries made with dried red chilies, they differ in heat level, origin, main ingredients, and even serving suggestions.


In this section, we will discuss the origin of Madras and Vindaloo dishes.

Madras is a South Indian city and the Madras curry powder was created by British chefs in the 19th century to suit their taste buds.

On the other hand, Vindaloo originated from Goa, a state in western India that was under Portuguese rule until 1961.

For Madras, we could mention its British connection and the key ingredients used such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder and red chillies.

For Vindaloo, we could mention its Portuguese connection and key ingredients used like garlic, ginger, vinegar and red chilies.

Moving on to further description on the same topic of Origin.

It’s interesting how these dishes have evolved over time with cultural influences in regions they have traveled to.

Despite being different in their origins as well as preparation techniques which gives them distinct flavor profiles they both are popular choices among people when it comes to ordering spicy curries in Indian restaurants.

Ingredients Used

When it comes to Indian cuisine, spices play a crucial role in defining the taste and aroma of a dish.

Both Madras and Vindaloo, two popular Indian curry dishes, are known for their distinctive flavors, which largely depend on the ingredients used in each recipe.

Apart from these basic ingredients, some variations may include additional spices like cardamom pods or cloves.

The difference between these two curries lies in the choice of spices and meats used.

When preparing Madras curry, mustard seeds give it a unique flavor while cumin adds warmth to the spice mix.

Coriander lends a tangy taste that complements the sweetness of coconut milk often used as an ingredient in this curry.

Turmeric powder provides color to this dish while chili powder gives it heat.

By contrast, Vindaloo curry is made with red chili peppers that offer significant heat along with peppercorns.

Cumin here also provides warmth to the dish while ginger-garlic paste enhances its flavor even more.

To sum up, each curry has its own set of primary spices that define its flavor profile.

Understanding the differences between them can help you choose which one suits your palate better.

Next up is Flavor and Spice Level where we discuss how these differences reflect on each curry’s overall taste experience.

Flavor and Spice Level

For those who are familiar with both Madras and Vindaloo, the first thing that comes to your mind would be the varying levels of spice and flavor that define each dish.

While Madras is a South Indian dish that is typically spicy but on the milder side, Vindaloo takes it up a notch and packs a punch with its intense heat.

Cooking Method

The current heading, ‘Cooking Method’, refers to the different methods used to prepare Madras and Vindaloo dishes.

The cooking method plays a significant role in shaping the flavors of these two popular Indian curries.

As you can see from the table above, the primary difference in cooking method between Madras and vindaloo curry lies in their use of vinegar/tamarind paste and chili peppers.

In preparing Madras curry – meat or vegetables are first sautéed together with whole spices such as cumin and coriander.

Then they add finely chopped onions along with diced tomatoes that provide both sweetness and acidity to balance out traditional spice flavors like ground turmeric.

On the other hand – In case of Vindaloo curry – meat or vegetables are marinated with vinegar/tamarind paste along with unique spices such as chili powder which provides its signature hot flavor; then it is sautéed with garlic/onion before being cooked through till tender.

The way each dish is prepared combined with differences in ingredients result in Madras and Vindaloo curry having distinct flavor profiles that make them unique.

Regional Variations

The regional variations in Indian cuisine are vast and diverse.

The use of different spices, ingredients, and cooking methods varies from region to region, resulting in unique dishes and flavors.

Some popular regional cuisines include Punjabi, Bengali, Kerala, and Gujarati.

As you can see from the table above, even two well-known curries such as Madras and Vindaloo differ significantly based on their respective regions of origin.

It’s essential to understand that while these regional varieties may have underlying similarities or differences in preparation methods or ingredients used.

However – it ultimately comes down to personal preference when it comes to choosing which dish is best for you.

When exploring new Indian cuisine options, it’s often helpful to start with a few classic dishes across different regions to get an idea of flavor profiles unique to each area.

How to Pair Madras and Vindaloo Curries?

To pair Madras and Vindaloo curries, you need to consider the heat and spiciness levels of each dish as well as their flavor profiles.

When it comes to pairing Madras curry, its tangy and spicy flavors work best with slightly sweet and neutral foods like basmati rice or naan bread.

On the other hand, the spicy-sour taste of Vindaloo pairs well with steamed rice or roti bread.

These foods can balance out the intense heat of Vindaloo.

Overall, it is important to take note of where you order your curry from since different restaurants may have their take on this staple Indian dish.

Nevertheless, considering flavor profiles and spice levels should help make your decision-making easier.

Popular Madras and Vindaloo Curry Brands

When it comes to Indian cuisine, curries are a big part of it.

And for those who love their spices, two popular curries they often reach for are the Madras and Vindaloo.

But with so many brands available in the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.

Here are some of the popular Madras and Vindaloo curry brands that are worth trying.

Patak’s is one of the most well-known Indian curry brands in the UK and has been around since 1958.

Their Madras curry paste is made from coriander, cumin and paprika while their Vindaloo paste has extra chili heat.

Sharwood’s is another well-known brand that offers both mild and spicy versions of its Madras and Vindaloo curries.

Tesco’s own-brand Madras curry paste has a fiery kick to it but is not overly hot.

What sets it apart from other brands is its simplicity – made from chili powder, cinnamon and coriander seeds.

This makes it ideal for those who prefer a less complex flavor profile.

Whether you’re looking for something mild or something super-spicy, there’s a Madras or Vindaloo curry out there to suit your taste buds.

The above-mentioned brands all offer different levels of heat so you can find the right balance that works for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new brands – you may just discover your new favorite curry paste.


To sum up, Madras and Vindaloo curries are both popular Indian dishes with unique flavor profiles.

While Madras is known for its moderate spiciness and bold tomato-based gravy, Vindaloo is famous for its fiery hotness and tangy vinegar-based sauce.

It’s worth noting that there can be variations in spice levels based on personal preferences or regional differences.

However, on average, Madras curry is milder than Vindaloo curry in terms of heat intensity.

In terms of texture and consistency, they may differ too; Madras curry can be thick or thin depending upon how much water is used while preparing the dish whereas Vindaloo will have a rich gravy covering the meat/vegetables.

Madras vs Vindaloo: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Considering the differences between Madras and Vindaloo? Let us guide you through the nuances of these two popular Indian curry dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Madras
  • Vindaloo


  • Choose between two items based on your preference and availability.
  • Follow the cooking directions for your chosen option, using the appropriate ratio of ingredients.
  • Prepare it according to your desired recipes.
  • Incorporate them into your dish, adjusting the amount to suit your taste.
  • Enjoy the unique taste experience and experiment with different dishes to explore their versatility.
Keyword Madras vs Vindaloo
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