Region: Berlin, Hamburg, the Ruhr area, and more and more popular all over Germany.
“What’s all the hype about?”
My American business partner and I were in one of Berlin’s favorite fast food joints: Bier’s 195 on Kurfürstendamm.
We were looking at a plate filled with French fries topped with a blob of mayonnaise and a chopped up sausage covered with curry powder, smothered in ketchup.
“Well”, I said, “this is the world famous Berlin Currywurst. A mandatory snack when visiting the city.
As my recent words spun around in my head, I realized, looking down at the food mutilation before me, that my American co-worker must think: These Germans! …Still crazy… after all… !
There is indeed some history attached to the “Currywurst” which makes it a dish with some cultural value and thus worth having its place on this blog.
A Currywurst prepared poorly is pure hell; and when prepared well, it can be an absolute winner and your kids will love it.
As a means of evidence to the previous statement, I can say that whenever the canteen in my office block (in Hamburg) serves “Currywurst” you better be there early and before everyone else goes to lunch, just to beat the line in front of the food counter.
The Currywurst is said to have been invented in the post WWII period in Berlin. On a rainy fall night in 1949 when Herta Heuwer, owner of a fast food stand, combined curry powder, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup to a sauce which she poured over a steamed and then fried sausage. She gave the sauce the name “Chillup” and patented it in 1959. It was filling, cheap, and tasty and as such extremely popular with construction workers who were rebuilding the devastated city of Berlin.
Today, it is one of the most popular fast food in Germany with over 800 Million servings a year in Germany (Big Mac does not even get close). It is so popular, that even McDonalds in Germany serves it as a seasonal special at times.
Many restaurants have started to serve “Currywurst Deluxe”… an up-scaled version of the traditional Currywurst.
There are voices that say that the “Currywurst” was not actually invented in Berlin, but in Hamburg. I have no access to data verifying this to be true, but the Currywurst in Hamburg is at least just as good and has many fans and variations.
A true delight… Trust me… I would not elaborate on it as much, otherwise…
Here is what the New York Times has to say about the Berlin Currywurst
Serves: 4 Difficulty: Easy Preparation time: 60 mins.
- 4-6 large sausages (e.g.: a high quality Bratwurst; the bigger the better, talk to your German deli and tell them you want to make Currywurst. After an initial suprised look, they will know what you need)
- 1 TS Gram Masala Powder (visit your Indian deli)
- 4-6 TS quality Madras curry powder (visit your Indian deli)
- 3-4 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
- 1-2 TS paprika powder, spicy
- 1-2 TS paprika powder, mild
- 1 -2 TS chilli oweder or chilli sauce
- 1-2 TS cayenne pepper
- 10 TBS quality tomato ketchup (e.g. Heinz)
- 2-4 TBS tomato paste
- one small glass of quality Indian mango chutney as extra dip for the potatoes
- 800 g potatoes
- generous amounts of freshly ground salt and pepper
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme, chopped
- 6 EL olive oil
- parsley and chili flakes for decoration (if available)
- backing sheet
- (Except for the number of sausage, use the lower ingredients number if you want a mild sauce, and the higher ingredients number for a very spicy sauce. Or experiment with the ingredients as you see fit. I noticed that after heating, the sauce will actually get a bit milder,)
Wash one bunch of thyme , remove leaves from twigs and chop leaves thoroughly.
Wash 800g of potatoes and cut into wedges. In a bowl, mix with 6 TBS olive oil, generous amount of freshly ground salt and pepper and half of the chopped thyme. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at ( 200°C regular / 175°C circulating air / Gas: setting 3) for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, combine 1-2 TS spicy paprika powder, 1-2 TS mild paprika powder, 1 -2 TS chilli powder or chilli sauce; 1-2 TS cayenne pepper; 10 TBS quality tomato ketchup (e.g. Heinz), 2-4 TBS tomato paste, 3 TBS of Worcestershire Sauce, 1 TS of Gram Marsala powder, and 2-3 TS of Madras curry powder to a sauce. Heat it up bring it to a short 30 seconds boil before removing form heat but keep warm.
Cut the Sausage into pieces about of 4 cm thickness.
After 30 minutes, create some room on the backing sheet by moving potatoes over to one side while turning them over. If the potatoes are too dry, add some additional oil. Place the cut up sausage onto the baking sheet in the space you have created.
After 15 minutes of sausage cooking pour half of the sauce over sausage and toss until well covered and return to oven. Cook for another 15 mins
On a plate, arrange potatoes and sausage. Sprinkle 1 TS madras curry powder per plate over the sausage. Cover with the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle fresh thyme, parsley, and chili flakes over arrangement and serve while hot. Serve with Mango Chutney as extra dip for potatoes.
I’d be interested to learn how you like this one.