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The standard Indian takeout menu does not represent the kind of food eaten in India. India is a large country and "Real Indian food" is little more meaningful than "Real European food". Dishes commonly eaten in the North might be foreign to people living in the South and vice-versa. Takeout favourites (tikka masala, madras, rogan josh) don't exist in India in that form. Those dishes are European inventions inspired by Indian dishes.

When I open an Indian take-away menu I see chicken, beef, lamb, seafood and vegetarian dishes. But there is no pork. India is a predominately vegetarian country. When the modern take-out menu was invented, common European meats were added to the menu. Except for pork. How come?

The Chinese takeaway is a similar story. You will find chicken, beef, pork, seafood and vegetarian dishes that don't resemble anything eaten in China. Now we have pork but no lamb. I suspect that is because lamb is expensive in Europe. But it goes to show pork dishes sell. So why not pork Indian dishes?

Edit: Comments mention that Goan cuisine features pork from Portuegese influence. This is interesting because some dishes, for example Vindaloo, are an Indian take on a European dish, rather than for example Tikka Masala which is a European take on an Indian dish. However the question is only about the extent to which pork is eaten in India, insofar as it influences why pork never made its way onto Indian takeout menus in Europe.

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    ... I would hazard that most Indian restaurants don't serve beef... The ones I generally go to do not. – Catija Jun 1 '17 at 18:25
  • I wouldn't be surprised if an Indian restaurant with chairs doesn't serve beef. But where I live beef is an option for places that exclusively do take-out. – Daron Jun 1 '17 at 18:28
  • Maybe "where I live" might be helpful information? I don't think I've seen a takeout-only restaurant other than pizza in the US, though I understand that takeout-only restaurants are more common in some areas - the UK and (I'm guessing) very populated places like New York City. – Catija Jun 1 '17 at 18:38
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    Almost all indian food is portuguese influenced - who do you think brought the use of chile peppers and capsicums along? :) – rackandboneman Jun 2 '17 at 12:06
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    India is actually predominantly not vegetarian - huffingtonpost.in/2016/06/14/how-india-eats_n_10434374.html – talonx Oct 8 '17 at 5:47
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In the UK you see lamb and chicken on "Indian" restaurant menus, but not beef or pork. I suspect that in the colonial era when the English wanted meat there were goats (near enough the same as sheep) and chickens because both are kept for food but not meat. So are cattle but they're special. There simply wouldn't have been a supply of pigs or the habit of rearing them - and English breeds brought by the colonists wouldn't do too well in the climate of much of India. Maintaining a supply of pork would have been hard. The English in India also used to exploit and increase religious divisions - at times and in places they relied on Muslims. Rumours of pig (and cow) fat being used as grease on rifle cartridges (which had to be bitten) were a factor in the rebellion of 1857, indicating the depth of feeling about forbidden food.

While many Indians are vegetarian, there are plenty who aren't, and that means there are plenty of dishes using the meats that are available.

Many if not most "Indian" restaurants in the UK are run by people of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage, who tend to be Muslims. This further explains the absence of pork as it's forbidden for Muslims (including just handling it I believe).

Goa is an exception in several ways. It was a Portuguese colony not a British one. Iberian pig breeds should tolerate the Indian climate better than British breeds. More importantly, Goa doesn't have a large Muslim population (8%, compare with the UK at 4%). Goa was ruled by the Portuguese before and during the Mughal empire, which had a huge influence on Islam in the rest of India.

  • I was only planning to comment until I started checking facts (and those only via Wikipedia). Many of the issues mentioned are worthy of further reading, but I'll leave that up to the reader. – Chris H Jun 2 '17 at 7:10
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    In real terms, your second last paragraph is the answer to this question. – Niall Jun 2 '17 at 12:18
  • @Niall quite possibly, but the OP is in Ireland and I don't know the situation there. Also, I was never offered pork when I visited India. – Chris H Jun 2 '17 at 12:42
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Why is there no pork? Pork is sold in India. Who said there was no pork dishes in India? That’s not the reason behind that. The reason is because the majority of Indian restaurant owners are Muslims or South Indian.

  • You might like to expand on the "South Indian" part -- why do South Indian people reject pork? I think it's well-understood that Halal rules prohibit it for Muslims. – Chris H Jan 5 '18 at 22:28
  • No one suggested there is no pork in India. The question is why is pork absent from European Indian takeout menus. – Daron Jan 8 '18 at 18:10

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