Ich bin ein currywurst

How to make Germany's fast food fusion favorite.

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click to enlarge CURRY THEIR FAVOR: German pork sausage smothered in a spicy, tomato-based, curry-laden red sauce. - Orderinchaos via Wikimedia Commons
Orderinchaos via Wikimedia Commons
CURRY THEIR FAVOR: German pork sausage smothered in a spicy, tomato-based, curry-laden red sauce.

Seeing as I’ve been on a food truck/trailer/cart kick lately, here’s another delightful dish that’s piqued my culinary interest, a flavor-packed fusion dish hailing from Deutschland.

A mid-20th-century invention and a fusion of two very different cuisines, the German currywurst is an incredibly popular dish in Berlin and can be found at many Schnell-Imbisse (food stalls) in the city. Currywurst is the “culinary emblem of Germany’s capital city,” according to the German Currywurst Museum, and even survived the divide of the city with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. (Yeah, the dish even has its own museum, where eager patrons can visit for a meager 11 Euro — about $14 U.S.)

“What the heck is ‘currywurst’?,” you may be asking yourself. It’s a German pork sausage smothered in a spicy, tomato-based, curry-laden red sauce, and often served alongside a pile of French fries topped with mayonnaise or a bread roll. It comes in many forms, with varying curry sauce recipes and sausages served grilled or fried, with or without casing. And there’s no one set recipe for it either. The curry used in the sauce can be of either Asian or Indian origin — some Berliners prefer theirs with a sweet Indian curry, while others like a spicier, Asian chili pepper and lemongrass kick.

As to the origin of this interesting culinary culture clash, food writer Andrea Meyers traces it to "a certain enterprising Berlin housewife [Herta Heuwer]," who "traded some alcohol for curry powder from British troops in the time after World War II when the city was still in ruins, and she began selling sausages topped with a spicy tomato-based sauce to local construction workers in 1949. The price was right and the spicy dish sold fast.” Huewer’s fast fare spawned many copycats, and 800 million currywursts are now served in Germany each year.

When it comes to the flavors for this German and Asian/Indian fusion treat, the choice is yours. If you’re craving flavors of the Far East, try using S & B Curry Powder (or something similar), which can be found at Asian grocers and online. For an Indian take, throw in some Madras curry powder and a dash of turmeric. Here’s a good, basic recipe for currywurst; just use the flavor profile that best pleases you.

German Currywurst

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons curry powder (Asian or Indian)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more or less to taste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

8 pork sausages

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s soft, about 8 minutes. Add the curry, any other spices or aromatics (turmeric, lemongrass, etc.), and tomato paste and stir and cook for another minute or two.

Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and salt, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat toi medium-low and simmer until it’s thick, about 20 minutes. When thickened, add the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

While the sauce simmers, cook the sausages by either boiling, frying or baking them until they’re cooked through. If using bratwurst or something similar, first boil the sausages in enough liquid (like beer) to come at least halfway up their sides and cook until the casings start to split; finish on the stove top in a pan or on the grill until completely done.

Serve sausages hot, split lengthwise or sliced, smothered with curry sauce.

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