It’s been a great experience being a member of the Hippocrene Books stable of authors. Boasting the most comprehensive catalog of ethnic cookbooks, Hippocrene is truly a powerhouse when it comes to food publishing, and I’ve learned so much about other cuisines as a result. That said, I admit to being slightly disappointed upon initially learning that I was to cook from a newly published volume called Spoonfuls Of Germany for this special day that a few of us authors swapped books. I have toured Germany countless times as a deejay and musician, and sadly have suffered miserably from the local fare, which has done little to satisfy a palette weaned on bold, spicy flavors. It’s not that I haven’t tried the potatoes and sausages and spaetzle and schnitzel, but German cuisine in general has fallen far short of my expectations and demands.
You can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was then, while flipping through Spoonfuls, to arrive at a recipe for Currywurst, probably Germany’s most popular street food. Born in a Berlin snack bar in 1949, currywurst is a humble food that has ascended to much higher heights. It is essentially the popular sausage known as bratwurst, smothered in a hot and spicy, tangy ketchup, and usually served on a small bread roll called a brotchen. I have downed more than a few currywursts, Germany’s version of the popular “dirty water” NYC hot dog, on my various trips to Germany over the years.
Nadia Hassani’s recipe for the curry ketchup used on currywurst satisfies my craving for spices and heat, and, in fact, could be used on most things one normally pours ketchup on. I used the leftover curry ketchup on French fries and scrambled eggs, and it is fast becoming a tastier and healthier alternative to Heinz (because it contains none of that insidious high fructose corn syrup). But try it first the way it was meant to be eaten—as currywurst—and I guarantee it will give you a new take on German food. The morale of this story: never dismiss another country’s cuisine because there is always a bite that you will like.
Note: I used my own curry powder blend (Skiz’s Original available online at http://www.foodoro.com) in the ketchup itself and not sprinkled on the sausages as the recipe states.
From Spoonfuls of Germany by Nadia Hassani
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 (14 ½ oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
pinch of powdered mustard
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground mace
pinch of ground cinnamon
½ bay leaf
salt & freshly milled black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 large sausages, preferably bratwurst
mild to medium curry powder
For the curry ketchup:
1.) Heat oil in a small saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent.
2.) Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, mustard, allspice, cloves, mace cinnamon, and bay leaf. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until a thick paste forms. Remove the bay leaf and puree the ketchup. Season with salt and pepper and cool. The curry ketchup can be kept refrigerated for 3-4 weeks.
For the sausage:
1.) Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the sausages until cooked through and browned, turning them frequently.
2.) Top each sausage with the curry ketchup and sprinkle with curry powder. Serve at once.
Please check out the other authors involved in this cookbook swap: