Dark Stories Did You Know History

Portuguese Inquisition In India

Table of Contents


The Portuguese Inquisition in India was a brutal and horrific period of religious persecution that began in the 16th century and lasted for over 250 years. The Inquisition was established to enforce religious conformity among the population and was modeled after the Spanish Inquisition.

The Inquisition targeted Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, forcing them to convert to Christianity or face severe punishments, including unspeakable torture and cruel death sentences.

Many people were accused of being heretics or secret Jews and were subjected to brutal interrogations and trials.

The Inquisition had a profound impact on Indian society and culture, as it also included the destruction of many ancient temples and religious sites, and forced many people to flee their homes and communities. It also resulted in the loss of many important historical and cultural artifacts.

The Inquisition was finally abolished in 1821, but its legacy continues to impact India to this day.

The Portuguese In India

The Portuguese Empire conquered the province of Goa in 1510 CE, and made it the capital of Portuguese India.

The video with an overview

The Portuguese Inquisition – The atrocities in Goa, India – Source OddCompass
Video with more details – a descendant’s account
The Goan Inquisition – a descendant’s account

The Inquisition – a high level summary

In 1560 CE, the Portuguese brought their Catholic Inquisition to Goa to establish a Catholic stronghold in Asia where religious laws would be strictly enforced.
Goa Inquisition – Source

What we know about the inquisition has been lost due to the destruction of records by the Portuguese government in 1821 when the inquisition was abolished

Everyone is affected

Both natives and Portuguese settlers were subject to extreme punishment, including imprisonment, torture, and even death by immolation. The Goan Inquisition created a persecution hell, and many people fled for India hoping to escape persecution.

The Portuguese inquisition became a theocratic arm of the state subject to the authority of the king, and it served a political function as well, censoring books, attacking political dissidents, banning non-standard cultural practices, and more.

Policies regarding Indian Muslims were oppressive, though mosques were not outright destroyed in the pre-inquisition era.

The Portuguese also established an inquisition in Goa which lasted for nearly three centuries and was characterized by oppression and bloodshed.

Hidden History
The Inquisitor

The Goan Inquisition was jump-started in 1543 CE with the arrival of Saint Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits. The Inquisition had an influence on colonial administration, and Portuguese religious and secular infrastructure was deployed to destroy the enemies of the Inquisition.
A saint to some – but not to those he tortured – Source

The Goan Inquisition was a period of intense religious persecution in which the Portuguese targeted Jews, Hindu and Muslim converts to Christianity, and Hindus in an effort to expunge native culture and religion and incentivize conversion to Christianity.

Those convicted of religious crimes were subject to fines, public whipping, imprisonment, torture, execution, and burning alive at the stake. The Portuguese even banned Jews from Goa outright, causing an exodus of Jewish new Christians to the Malabar coast and the Middle East.

The target of the Inquisition

The Inquisition’s primary target was Hindus, and sweeping anti-Hindu laws were imposed by the colonial administration, including the outlawing of open practice of Hinduism and prohibitions against constructing new temples or repairing damaged ones.

The oppression led to a mass exodus of non-Christians out of Goa, and even those who converted to Christianity faced restrictions from maintaining their old customs.

The persecution resulted in the loss of well-connected merchants, formerly Jewish new Christians, and Hindus, which ultimately crippled the competitive ability of the Portuguese in India.

Warning – this section has graphic information about the tortures

Some of the the documented atrocities from the article above:

Conversion method

M. D. David, author of Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity, writes: “…A particularly grave abuse was practiced in Goa in the form of ‘mass baptism’ and what went before it. The practice was begun by the Jesuits and was initiated by the Franciscans also. The Jesuits staged an annual mass baptism on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), and in order to secure as many neophytes as possible, a few days before the ceremony the Jesuits would go through the streets of the Hindu quarter in pairs, accompanied by their African slaves, whom they would urge to seize the Hindus. When the blacks caught up a fugitive, they would smear his lips with a piece of beef, making him an ‘untouchable’ among his people. Conversion to Christianity was then his only option.

The below examples do not include seizure of lands, property, destruction of temples, banning of local religion, books, traditional customs and what would be considered run of the mill sexual assault, torture & executions. So read with caution.

Unspeakable atrocities

The Archbishop living on the banks of the Ethora said in a lecture that, “The post of Inquiry Commission in Goa is regarded as holy.” Thus, the Indian ladies who opposed or resisted the sexual advances of the assistants of the commission were put behind bars and then forcibly used by them to satisfy their carnal desires. Then they were burnt alive as opponents or heretics of the established tenets of the Catholic Church.

Mentions in Literature

Also, the famous writer of the 19th century, Alexandre Herculano, wrote in his book, Fragment about the Inquisition, how no one was excused from the tortures of the Inquisition: “… the terrors inflicted on pregnant women made them abort… Neither the beauty nor decorousness of the flower of youth, nor the old age, so worthy of compassion in a woman, exempted the weaker sex from the brutal ferocity of the supposed defenders of the religion… There were days when seven or eight were submitted torture.”

Paul William Roberts, in Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India, writes about the methods of the Portuguese Inquisition: “Children were flogged and slowly dismembered in front of their parents whose eyelids had been sliced off to make sure they missed nothing. Extremities were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even when all that remained was a torso and a head… Those subjected to other diabolical tortures could also be counted in the thousands and the abominations continued until a brief respite in 1774… The evil resumed, continuing, almost incredibly, until June 16, 1812. At that point, British pressure put an end to terror (with) the presence of British troops stationed in Goa.”

Dr. Trasta Breganka Kunha, a Catholic citizen of Goa, had written: “In spite of all the mutilations and concealment of history, it remains an undoubted fact that religious conversion of Goans is due to methods of force by the Portuguese to establish their rule. As a result of this violence the character of our people was destroyed. The propagation of Christian sect in Goa came about not by religious preaching but through methods of violence and pressure. If any evidence is needed for this fact, we can obtain it through law books, orders and reports of the local rulers of that time and also from the most dependable documents of the Christian sect.”

The article linked above has more sources in it.

The top image is also from that article

A more detailed article

Translation of the book by a French Doctor written during the Inquisition in India

A recap of the Portuguese Inquisition

The Portuguese arrived in Goa in the early 16th century and established a trading post. They also brought with them their religion, which eventually made Goa less attractive as a trade center.

The Dutch were able to take advantage of this and became the dominant European trading force in the subcontinent.

The Portuguese also established an inquisition in Goa which lasted for nearly three centuries and was characterized by oppression and bloodshed.

Sadly, much of what we know about the inquisition has been lost due to the destruction of records by the Portuguese government in 1821 when the inquisition was abolished. The terror and oppression brought by the inquisition will never be forgotten.

Did You Know History Stories

Trade ages ago

Table of Contents

Trade with Ancient Rome

There is evidence that the Romans had trade relations with India as early as the 1st century BCE, as documented in the writings of the Roman historian Pliny the Elder.

Pepper and ginger grow wild in their country, yet here we buy them by weight, using so much gold and silver!

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder was a Roman author and naturalist who lived during the 1st century AD. In his work “Naturalis Historia,” he wrote extensively about the trade between Rome and India. He described the Indian Ocean as “the most peaceful of all seas” and wrote about the trade winds that facilitated travel between India and the Red Sea.

Pliny also wrote about the high value of Indian spices and the Roman empire’s demand for them. He noted that the Romans had to pay in gold and silver to acquire Indian spices, which were highly prized for their taste and medicinal properties.

He also wrote about Indian textiles, pearls, and precious stones that were highly prized by the Romans.

Pliny’s accounts provide valuable insight into the economic and cultural exchange between Rome and India during the ancient period.

According to historical accounts, the Roman trade with India was primarily conducted by Indian merchants who traveled by sea along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade routes. The trade was driven by a demand for spices and other luxury goods that were not available in the Mediterranean region.

Some notable examples of Roman figures who were known to have been interested in spices and Indian goods include Julius Caesar, who is said to have been a fan of Indian pepper, and Cleopatra, who was known to have imported large quantities of spices into Egypt.

The Roman trade with India is believed to have continued for several centuries, although the exact duration of the trading partnership is not known. Indian spices and other goods were highly sought after in Rome, and the trade was likely a major source of income for Indian merchants.

In terms of the goods that were imported from India to Italy and Greece, spices were certainly among the most highly valued items. Other Indian goods that were popular in Rome included textiles, ivory, and precious stones.

It is not clear what the Indians were taking back from Italy and Greece, as there are few records of the goods that were exported from Rome to India during this period. However, it is likely that the Romans would have exported a range of goods to India, including metals, wine, and olive oil, which were highly prized in the Mediterranean region.

Trade with Ancient Greeks

There is evidence of trade between ancient Greeks and Indians, particularly in the Hellenistic period (323 BCE-31 BCE) when Alexander the Great’s conquests brought the Greeks in contact with various Indian kingdoms.

The Greeks were interested in Indian goods such as textiles, precious stones, ivory, and spices, and Indian exports to Greece included goods such as indigo, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. The Greek historian Megasthenes, who lived in India during the 4th century BCE, wrote about the Indian exports in his book “Indika.” Greek historian Strabo also mentioned Indian spices in his work “Geographica,” describing their uses in cooking and medicine.

The Greeks also exported their own goods to India, such as wine, olive oil, and textiles. Some Greek colonies were established in northwest India, and archaeological evidence suggests that there was trade between the two regions, with Greek coins and pottery found in India and Indian goods found in Greek settlements.

The Greek-Indian trade relationship was not as significant as the Roman-Indian trade, but there is evidence of cultural and economic exchange between the two regions.

Trade with Ancient Egypt

There is evidence of trade between India and Egypt dating back to ancient times. The Egyptians were known to trade with India for spices, aromatic woods, textiles, and other luxury goods. The ancient Egyptians were also known to have used Indian spices in their embalming practices.

Archaeological excavations at several sites in Egypt have revealed the presence of Indian spices, including black pepper, ginger, and cardamom, which were imported from India. These spices were highly prized by the Egyptians, who used them not only for culinary purposes but also for medicinal and religious purposes.

One of the most significant pieces of evidence for Indian-Egyptian trade is the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a Greek manuscript that dates back to the 1st century CE. The Periplus describes the trade routes between India and the Red Sea, and provides a detailed account of the commodities traded between India and Egypt, including spices, precious stones, ivory, and textiles.

In addition, several ancient Egyptian texts and inscriptions have been found that mention the importation of Indian spices. For example, the temple of Kom Ombo, which dates back to the Ptolemaic era, contains a relief that depicts the transport of Indian spices, including cinnamon and cassia, from the Red Sea to the temple.

Records or artifacts from those times
Latest news article from April 2023
Source – In addition to a Buddha statue, Sanskrit inscriptions from 2000 years ago were found, as were coins from the Satavahana empire from Southern India.

There have been several archaeological findings that indicate the trade relationship between India and the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations.

One example of such a finding is the discovery of Roman coins in India, particularly in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These coins, dating back to the 1st century BCE, suggest that Roman traders were present in India during that time.

Another important archaeological discovery is the ancient port of Muziris, located in present-day Kerala, which was a major trading center for the Romans and Greeks. Excavations at the site have uncovered several artifacts, including amphorae (a type of container used to transport goods), pottery, and coins, all of which point to a thriving trade relationship between India and the ancient world.

Additionally, the discovery of a Roman glass bowl in Pompeii, Italy, that was made in India is further evidence of the trade relationship between the two civilizations.

In terms of written records, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus mentions the trade relationship between India and the Greeks in his writings, specifically in his book “The Histories.” He writes about the various goods that were traded, including spices, textiles, and precious stones.

Coins from India, Egypt, Greece and Rome

Coins from ancient India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome provide evidence of trade between these regions. For example, Indian coins from the Kushan period (1st-3rd centuries CE) have been found in archaeological excavations in Egypt, suggesting that there was direct trade between the two regions during this time.

Similarly, Greek coins have been found in archaeological sites in India, particularly in the northwestern region, which was once part of the Hellenistic world. These coins indicate that there was some level of trade and exchange between the two regions during the Hellenistic period (4th-1st centuries BCE).

Coins from the Roman period also provide evidence of trade with India. Roman coins have been found in southern India, particularly in the region of Tamil Nadu. These coins suggest that there was direct trade between Rome and India during the early centuries CE, with Indian spices being one of the major commodities exchanged.

The symbols and inscriptions on these coins also provide insights into the political and economic conditions of these regions at the time. For example, some Indian coins from the Kushan period depict rulers such as Kanishka and Vasudeva, who were known for their patronage of Buddhism and the arts.

There is no direct evidence on the costs of spices in these regions at the time, as there are no surviving records or accounts of the prices.

However, we can infer from the fact that spices were traded over long distances that they were valuable commodities that commanded a high price in these regions. It is likely that spices were exchanged for other goods, such as precious metals, textiles, and other luxury items, or simply being directly purchased with gold or silver.

Did You Know Stories

The Curry Story!

Table of Contents


This post provides a quick peek into the history and cultural significance of curry, highlighting its diverse and enduring appeal as a cuisine that has captured the imagination of people all over the world.

What is Curry?

The word curry has become popular around the world and is now widely used to refer to a variety of dishes that are typically made with a combination of spices and herbs, vegetables, meat, or fish, and a sauce or gravy.

What is curry? Watch to get a quick overview

There is no – just curry!

When the British colonized India, they encountered a variety of spice-based dishes that were served with rice, and they began referring to them collectively as “curry” as it was too complex for their delicate culinary background.

However, it’s worth noting that the term “curry” is not used in the same way in South Asian countries, where the cuisine is more diverse and complex than what is commonly referred to as “curry” in the West.

Then what is curry?

Did you know that curry actually originated in South India over 4,000 years ago, using local spices such as turmeric and pepper to create a delicious and flavorful blend?

While curry is found in various forms across South East Asia and other regions, it is the cultural significance it holds that is most important.

It is not just a specific dish or spice, but rather a term used to describe a variety of dishes that originate from different countries and cultures.

The word “curry” actually comes from the Tamil word “kari” meaning sauce. It was the British who introduced the word to describe the spice-based dishes they encountered in India.

South indian Chicken curry
South Indian Chicken Curry – Source with Recipe

Curry can be made with a variety of meats, including chicken, goat, lamb, pork, shrimp, and fish. Vegetarian and vegan curries are also popular. The heat level can vary widely, from mild to extremely spicy, depending on the type and amount of chili peppers used in the recipe.

Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in many Indian and Sri Lankan curries, and coconut milk is a common ingredient in Thai curries, while yogurt or cream is often used in Indian curries to create a creamy texture.

Indian vegetarian curries
Different Vegetable Curries Source – has recipes for popular vegetarian dishes

Interestingly, curry powder, commonly used in Western-style curries, is actually a Western invention. In India, most curries are made by blending spices together fresh for each dish.

Curry from around Asia

Curry is a term now used to describe a variety of dishes originating from different countries and cultures, including India, Thailand, Japan, and others. Despite its clearly Indian origins, curry has had a significant impact on the cuisine of many countries around the world.


Japanese curry (known as “karē” in Japanese) is a popular comfort food in Japan and is often served with rice or noodles.

Japanese Pork Curry
Japanese Pork Curry – katsu kare – Source with Recipe

Japanese-style curry typically includes meat and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, and is thicker and sweeter than Indian or Thai curries.

The curry roux used in Japanese curry is made with a blend of spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, but it is milder and sweeter than Indian curry.

Some popular Japanese curry dishes include katsu curry (served with breaded and fried pork or chicken), beef curry, and vegetable curry.

Burma (Myanmar)

Burmese curries are known for their strong flavors and use of local spices, such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass.

Burmese Fish Curry
Burmese Fish Curry – amat hin – Source with recipe

One popular Burmese curry dish is “ohn no khao swè” a coconut milk-based chicken noodle soup that is flavored with a blend of spices, including turmeric, paprika, and chili powder.

Another popular Burmese curry is “amat hin” a spicy fish curry made with tomato, tamarind, and chili.

Malaysia and Singapore

Malaysian and Singaporean curries are heavily influenced by Indian cuisine, but they also incorporate local spices and ingredients, such as lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.

Malaysian Chicken Rendang Curry
Malaysian Chicken rendang curry – Source with recipe

One popular Malaysian curry dish is “rendang” a dry curry made with beef, chicken, or lamb that is flavored with a blend of spices and coconut milk.

Another popular Malaysian curry is “laksa” a noodle soup that can be made with a curry broth that is flavored with spices and coconut milk.

Singaporean Curry Laksa
Singaporean Curry Laksa – Source with recipe

In Singapore, “curry laksa” is a popular dish that features a spicy coconut milk-based broth with noodles, seafood, and vegetables.


Indonesian curries are known for their complex flavors and use of local spices and ingredients, such as turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, and tamarind.

One popular Indonesian curry is “rendan” which is similar to the Malaysian version, but is usually spicier and more complex in flavor.

Indonesian Seafood Curry - or Gulai
Indonesian Seafood Curry – or Gulai – Source and recipe

Another popular Indonesian curry is “gulai” a curry made with meat, fish, or vegetables that is flavored with a blend of spices and coconut milk.


In the Philippines, curries are not as commonly consumed as they are in other Southeast Asian countries, but there are some traditional Filipino curries.

One popular Filipino curry dish is “kare-kare” a peanut-based stew that is made with oxtail, beef, or pork, and is usually served with vegetables and rice.

Ginataang Manok
Filipino Chicken Curry – Ginaatang Manok – Source and Recipe

Another popular Filipino curry is “ginataang manok” a chicken curry made with coconut milk and spices such as ginger and turmeric.


Thai curries are known for their bold and spicy flavors, and they often include a combination of meat, vegetables, and aromatic herbs.

Thai curries are typically made with a paste that includes ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, chili peppers, and shrimp paste.

Some popular Thai curries include green curry, red curry, and massaman curry.

Thai Chicken Curry
Thai Curry – Source

Green curry is spicier than red curry and is made with green chili peppers, while red curry is milder and sweeter than green curry and is made with red chili peppers.

Massaman curry is a relatively mild curry that is flavored with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, and is often made with beef or chicken. Thai curries are typically served with rice or noodles.


Cambodian curries are characterized by their use of herbs such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal.

Cambodian Curry
Cambodian Curry Amok – Source

Fish amok is a popular Cambodian curry dish made with fish, coconut milk, and a blend of spices including turmeric, garlic, and chili.

Another popular Cambodian curry is kari sach ko, a beef curry flavored with lemongrass, ginger, and kaffir lime leaves.


Lao curries are known for their spiciness and often feature local ingredients such as buffalo meat and padaek, a fermented fish paste.

One popular Lao curry is “mok pa” a fish curry that is steamed in banana leaves with a blend of spices, including galangal, lemongrass, and chili.

Laos Curry
Laos curry – Kaeng Nor Mai – Source

Another popular Lao curry is “kaeng nor mai” a bamboo shoot curry that is typically made with pork and flavored with a blend of spices including garlic, ginger, and turmeric.

Current usage of the word curry

The term “curry” then spread to other parts of the world, and today, it is commonly used to refer to a range of South Asian-inspired dishes that are served in Western countries.

When people in western countries hear the word “curry” they often think of a spicy, flavorful dish that is made with a combination of spices and served with rice or bread.

Some common ingredients in Western-style curries include onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili peppers, although the exact spices used can vary depending on the recipe and the region.

In many western countries, “curry” is also associated with a particular type of restaurant or takeaway, where customers can order a variety of different curries to go.

British Rule and it’s cuisine

When the East India Company first arrived in India in the 17th century, they were introduced to a new world of spices and flavors that they had never experienced before.

Indian cuisine was already well-developed, and the British were amazed at the variety of ingredients and the complexity of the cooking techniques.

The British diet was primarily composed of meat, potatoes, and vegetables, and they did not use many spices or herbs, if at all.

The British were not particularly known for their cuisine at the time, and their food was often considered bland and uninteresting. Some say, it did not progress much since then, other than a wider availability of different cuisines.

At least now, they have some flavor in their food – as over time, the British did begin to incorporate some Indian flavors into their cuisine.

Want to curry favor?

The phrase “curry favor” likely evolved from the idea of someone adding spice to their food to make it more palatable, much like how one might try to sweeten their words or actions to win favor with someone.