20 Portuguese-Influenced Food You Need To Try Right Now
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20 Portuguese-Influenced Food You Need To Try Right Now

The Portuguese may have left us hundreds of years ago, but we are still riding on our Portuguese way of life. 

Last week, we narrowed down a list of places to go in case our wallets don’t allow us to travel to Portugal itself.

This week, still on our Portuguese fever, we’ve compiled this list of Malaysian food that originally has Portuguese roots in them.

Image: McDonald’s Malaysia

You owe it to yourself to check them all off the list. Off we go!

1. Bingka/Bebingka

While nobody is sure who coined the term ‘bingka’ (glutinous rice cake) or where it came from, the dessert seems to have stemmed from Portuguese Goa, and made its way to Malayan shores a long time ago.

2. Vindaloo

The word vindaloo is a garbled pronunciation of the popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d’alhos, which literally means ‘meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic’.

3. Egg Tarts

Pastel de nata, also known as Portuguese custard tart, was first created before the 18th century by Catholic monks in Lisbon.

4. Peri-peri Sauce

Image: Chilli Pepper Madness

Variations of the sauce have been around since the 15th century when the Portuguese settlers in Africa came across African bird’s eye chillies and made a marinade with garlic, red wine vinegar, paprika and other European imports. 

5. Bacalhau

The word ‘bacalhau’ is the Portuguese word for ‘cod’, and if you’re speaking culinary, it means dried and salted cod. Bacalhau dishes are famous in Portugal and its former colonies (it is said that there are now over 1,000 recipes). 

6. Tempura

Image: Pexels

Yes, it is synonymous with Japanes cuisine, but the Japanese actually picked up the recipe from Portuguese visitors in the 16th and 17th centuries — a time when the Portuguese were eating lots of fried fish (tempora) during the Lenten season. 

7. Castella Cake, or Japanese Sponge Cake

Made of sugar, flour, eggs and starch syrup, the cake was brought to Japan (specifically Nagasaki, where it is now a specialty of theirs) by the Portuguese. The name comes from the Portuguese words pão de Castela, which means ‘bread from Castile’.

8. Belacan

Now, now, belacan has been part of our culture for the longest time…thanks to the Portuguese! Balichão (its name in Macao) is theorised to have evolved from the Portuguese word for whale, ‘baleia’, and a corruption of the word ‘belachang’ which is a Malay word for shrimp paste. 

9. Debal/devil Curry

Just the name might set your mouth on fire! This dish might be similar to the vindaloo (the use of white vinegar, turmeric and dried chillies hint at Portuguese influences), but debal is thickened with candlenuts and fragranced with lemongrass and galangal. 

10. Layered Cakes Including Kuih Lapis

Bolo de bolacha inspired our layered cake and kuih lapis, as the recipe calls for the layering of biscuits soaked in coffee and butter cream. Stack them together and there you’ll have one of our favourite delicacies! 

11. Sugee Cake

This cake found its way here during Portugal’s colonisation in the 1600s, where ingredients like semolina first made its appearance in Malaya. At first only baked by Eurasian families, it is now loved and recreated by many with its main ingredients being semolina, butter, almond and eggs. 

12. Feng (Curried Offal)

Those who love eating internal organs might have heard of feng, but if you haven’t, then this is a must-try. It is said that this dish can be kept for MONTHS and the Portuguese sailors used to take it on their very long voyages.

13. Portuguese Baked Fish

Ask any Eurasian and this would be the first thing they’d suggest, and why not? It’s wholesome, flavourful and comforting. We bet you can find it almost anywhere these days. 

14. Pikadol (Grago Fritters)

Otherwise known as cucur udang (prawn fritters), here’s another beloved snack best eaten with chilli and vinegar dip. We could easily have about 20 of them!

15. Jalangkote

Another snack we’d love to get our hands on is the jalangkote, a savoury tidbit made out of diced carrots, potatoes, bean sprouts, garlic, shallots, pepper and other spices. It is enjoyed best dipped in vinegar and chilli, too.

16. African Chicken

This barbecued chicken coated with spicy peri-peri sauce might feature coconut milk or peanuts, thanks to its Asian influences, and is mostly a staple dish in Macao. 

17. Minchi

This dish, comprising minced meat and rice, is typically flavoured with molasses and soy sauce, and served with a fried egg on top. Sometimes, simple is better!

18. Serradura (Sawdust Pudding)

Who knew that a simple combination of whipped cream and crumbled Marie biscuits would capture hearts in Portugal, and beyond?

19. Bolu

Bolu is an Indonesians variation of a sponge cake, and as you may have guessed, originated from the Portuguese as well. 

And the 20th… Is the McDonald’s Portuguese Chicken Burger

Made from a crispy chicken patty, Special Portuguese sauce, fresh vegetables and a chilli flakes bun inspired by the spices so coveted by the Portuguese, one taste will have you feeling like you’re in Portugal yourself!

With Portugal being the VIP and muse for this year’s McDonald’s ‘Discover The World’ campaign, a special menu calling out to all Malaysians who are looking for a taste of adventure is available … with the all-new McDonald’s Portuguese Chicken Burger as the main highlight.

So head over to any McDonald’s outlet or order it online to get a taste of Portugal now! #McDPortugueseChickenBurger

This way, you can really go full-on Portuguese and immerse yourself in the Portuguese way of life…a life of adventure, colour and dance, and deeply rooted in their love of spice. Just in case you needed a little more convincing, watch the video below:

Just to make it a little more fun, here’s a template which you can use on your Instagram Stories! Cross the ones you’ve tried, share it and tag us at @officialtravel360

Still here?

Are you up for a little taste adventure (aside from trying out the new burger)? Give the NoNando campaign a go, and you can even stand a chance to win 100,000 BIG Points!


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