Tempura (天ぷら or 天麩羅 tenpura?) is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.
The recipe for tempura was introduced to Japan by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries particularly active in the city of Nagasaki also founded by the Portuguese, during the sixteenth century (1549). Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, reportedly loved tempura. Originally, tempura was a popular food eaten at street venders called yatai since the Genroku era. Today, tempura is still a popular side dish at home, and is frequently eaten as a topping at soba stands.
It is also possible that the Portuguese picked the technique up from Goa which was their colony in India and this could very well be a variation of the pakora.The word “tempura”, or the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them, comes from the word “tempora”, a Latin word meaning “times”, “time period” used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or Ember Days (ad tempora quadragesimae), Fridays, and other Christian holy days.
Ember Days or quattuor tempora refer to holy days when Catholics avoid red meat and instead eat fish or vegetables. The idea that the word “tempura” may have been derived from the Portuguese nountempero, meaning a condiment or seasoning of any kind, or from the verb temperar, meaning “to season” has not been substantiated.However, the Japanese language could easily have assumed the word “tempero” as is, without changing any vowels as the Portuguese pronunciation in this case is similar to the Japanese. There is still today a dish in Portugal very similar to tempura called peixinhos da horta, “garden fishies.”, which consists in green beans dipped in a batter and fried. The end result is usually chewier than tempura.
The term “tempura” is thought to have gained popularity in southern Japan; it became widely used to refer to any sort of food prepared using hot oil, including some already existing Japanese foods. Today, the word “tempura” is also commonly used to refer to satsuma age, a fried fish cake which is made without batter.