Fresh chilies and tomatoes from the New World. Vinegar and beef that show Portuguese influence. A simpler version of India’s classic garam masala spice blend. All of it brought together with a Chinese stir-fry technique.

It’s the delicious culinary mashup that is chili-fry, a quick, flavorful dish from Goa, the smallest state in India. And it’s just the start of the blending of cultures and cuisines here. That’s because Goan cuisine is global cuisine, a reflection of the state’s one-time role as the centerpiece of Portugal’s empire in the East.

“The base [of chili-fry] has been taken from China, but the palate has been changed. It’s more Indianized,” says Alvin de Souza, who opened his Goan restaurant, Cafe Sussegado Souza, 20 years ago in a house his grandfather built in 1881. “It’s not what the Chinese would eat, but it is that method to quickly fry in a wok that has been modified.”

Similar to a stir-fry, a chili-fry starts by cooking aromatics—in this case, onion, ginger, garlic and chilies—first over high heat in a large, wok-like pan called a kadai. The beef—though chicken, prawns or lamb also are common—is seared after it is rubbed with a local, sweeter version of garam masala, which elsewhere in India can contain numerous ingredients. Here, it is limited to just cinnamon, clove, cardamom and black pepper.

Liquid—often chili or tomato sauce, sometimes chicken or beef stock—is added, then allowed to simmer off, creating concentrated flavors that coat the meat. A finish of fresh cilantro and a brightening splash of vinegar balance everything, though some Goans use tart tamarind.

The result is a richly spiced, one-skillet meal layered with a world of flavor. We loved how the warmly spiced beef balanced the chilies and vinegar. For our version, we used just cinnamon and turmeric since most garam masala sold in the U.S. is more complex than the version common to Goa.