Currywurst is certainly one of the favourite snacks of Germans. It is offered in many variations and every snack bar has their own recipe. Basically Currywurst is a sausage with a sauce made from tomatoes and curry powder poured over it. Particularly bold cooks serve vegetarian Currywurst as well as sausages made from exotic meats or served on good china with a glass of Champagne.
Workers, politicians, professors and TV detectives, everyone eats Currywurst – although probably not in every region of Germany. Currywurst is mostly eaten in Berlin, Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia. Politicians and other famous people especially like being photographed while eating it. Berlin even has its own Currywurst Museum, and the German musician Herbert Grönemeyer wrote and sang a song about Currywurst.
Each area has its own variations of the dish and everyone claims that only at their home town is it done correctly. Even the question of who invented the Currywurst is a matter of debate. Usually the most accepted fact is that it had first been created in Berlin in 1949 by Herta Heuwer, owner of a snack bar. It is a fact that she registered her recipe a few years later at the patent office, but never handed it on to anyone else throughout her life.
Currywurst is traditionally eaten from paper dishes, but there are also china plates which look just like the usual paper versions. No cutlery is used for eating them but instead every portion comes with a tiny wooden or plastic fork. This is possible because the sausages are cut before the sauce is poured over them. Snack bars often use special sausage cutter machines to do this.
The Right Sausage
In Berlin Currywurst is usually made with sausages similar to Bockwurst, which is made from cured pork (sometimes beef is added) filled into natural pork guts. Spices used to make Bockwurst are paprika and coriander, among others. The sausage is smoked and then boiled. To prepare the sausage for eating it is fried in a pan.
In former East Berlin the most popular Currywurst is made with a pork and veal sausage without skin, which was probably invented due to a shortage of pork intestines. It is made by directly injecting the meat mixture into boiling water. The finished sausage is also fried in a pan before having curry sauce poured over.
In Hamburg and the Ruhr Area of North Rhine-Westphalia Currywurst is usually made with Bratwurst, which basically is a sausage meant for frying or grilling. It is made usually from pork which is seasoned with marjoram and often caraway. The Bratwurst used for Currywurst is boiled during the production1 and then grilled or fried when being prepared for eating.
There is not one definite recipe for Currywurst, everyone makes it differently. Some add honey, onions, Worcestershire sauce, or use meat stock instead of water and strained tomatoes instead of ketchup. Those who feel really daring add pineapple, coconut milk, orange juice or whisky for a more exotic taste. The following is just a basic recipe, but feel free to experiment.
- 1-2 sausages per person
- 200ml tomato ketchup
- 1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- optional: cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Put the ketchup into a pot and add about ¼ glass of water (60ml/2oz), the exact amount depends on how fluid your ketchup is. The final sauce should be a bit thicker than soup. Stir and heat the mixture until it boils, but only let it boil a little time and reduce the heat quickly. Then add the spices and let it boil a little again. Taste and let the sauce boil a third time.
Meanwhile fry or grill your sausages. When they are done and the sauce is ready, slice the sausages into bite-sized pieces. You can either put all the pieces into the sauce and let them stew for a few minutes, or just put them on plates and pour the sauce over them.
Currywurst is usually eaten with bread rolls or chips.