Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa) For Berliners, the currywurst, or curried sausage, with its spicy ketchup sauce is more than just a fast-food snack: it is a means of survival, a tradition and a regional speciality. It comes in a number of variants: served with a bread roll or with chips (and perhaps a dollop of mayonnaise) or – for the absolute purists – on its own; the sausage with or without skin, served whole or cut into ready-to-eat chunks. The currywurst was invented in post-war Berlin, with Hamburg and Ruhr District cities desperately vying for recognition as the place where it all began.
The basic ingredient is always a fried sausage, made mostly from pork with a little beef or veal added. The sauce consists of ketchup and curry mixture. It is this mixture along with other spices that are the secret of every successful currywurst stall.
Berlin even has a museum dedicated to the currywurst: not far from Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin’s Mitte district, visitors can learn all about the currywurst – and of course sample it at the museum’s own snack stall. An estimated 800 million currywursts are consumed in Germany every year, 70 million in Berlin alone.
Enlarge image A German snack treat: the Currywurst (© picture-alliance / dpa) For the do-it-yourself cooks amongst you, here is a well-tried home recipe for the sauce (makes approximately 600 ml):
Ingredients (sauce for 6-8 sausages):
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 (level) tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. tomato purée ( from tube)
2 tsp. orange (or lemon) zest
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 pieces star anise
1 clove garlic, finely diced
A few cardamom seeds
1-2 tbsp. (Madras) curry powder
1-2 tsp. granulated stock
150 ml blood orange juice
150 ml ketchup, salt and pepper
Heat a sauteuse (or small saucepan) gently and add olive oil. Lightly braise the shallot and the garlic for 2 minutes. Then add the tomato purée and lightly sauté the mixture for a further 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder and heat gently for another 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the sauce. Finally, add the orange zest (or grated peel). Using a mortar and pestle, gently crush the star anise and cardamom seeds with a pinch of coarse salt and add to the mixture.
Add the orange juice, stir in the granulated stock, add the ketchup, carefully bring to the boil in the covered pan, then turn off the heat and let the sauce stand for 30 minutes. If desired, add a slice of ginger to ‘soak’ in the sauce.
Season with a little salt and pepper, adding a bit more curry powder or paste if desired. Add water (100-300 ml) to achieve a different sauce consistency. Pass the sauce through a coarse strainer over the serving vessel to remove onion, garlic, etc.; or use an immersion blender to purée the sauce.
Frying the sausages: For best results, use sausages made from pork with a little beef or veal added. Fry or grill the sausages slowly while the sauce stands.
When preparing the curry, you can vary quantities to suit your taste. Also suitable are curry pastes (yellow, red, Thai...). If you like your sauce milder, reduce the quantity of cayenne pepper and use a mild curry powder. If you like it hot, add chilli pods.
Origin of Ingredients:
Traditionally minded gourmets insist on ketchup from Werder (a town on the River Havel) and sausages from Thuringia.
© Auswärtiges Amt