Germany doesn’t automatically strike me as a place bursting with spicy and ‘exciting’ foods (let’s face it, you could say the same about Britain). When I think of German food I picture cold hams, cheese and sausages but like most western European countries, traditional cuisine has had an Eastern influence.
Unbeknownst to me, Berlin has a large Turkish population and with it many Turkish restaurants and kebab houses. But a dish that I fell in love with when I was there last week was actually the result of a German woman getting hold of some ketchup and curry powder from British soldiers.
Herta Heuwer invented the dish in 1949, after combining her ingredients with other spices and pouring the sauce over a grilled pork sausage. And the currywurst was born! It became so popular she even patented the original sauce and a museum (Deutsches Currywurst Museum) was set up to honour the dish.
Now it’s estimated 800 million currywursts are eaten every year in Germany, with 70 million in Berlin alone.
So naturally I had to get my hands on this spicy sausage dish. Luckily we were staying right in the centre so finding a restaurant was easy – as well as historical attractions like Brandenburg Gate.
But I had three days (technically two and a half) so finding time to get currywurst was difficult. I found my first currywurst at lunch time on the second day of our stay at the bottom of our street. Cafe lebensArt is a standard German cafe that does typical German food, including currywurst. The TripAdvisor reviews aren’t great but I actually found service to be brilliant, even with a full cafe. The currywurst was delicious – everything I had hoped for. The sausage was whole with slits in coated in a curry sauce served with potatoes. A slightly more sophisticated currywurst to the next one I was going to have…
The next currywurst I came across was on our final night at a very touristy restaurant called Maximilians (the waiters wore lederhosen) but it was actually a gem of a find. Staff were polite, quick and helpful. The beer was served in stein beer tankards (that’s 2 pints in one) and currywurst was on the menu.
Everyone does currywurst slightly differently and this was served as sausage chunks in a more tomato-y sauce that was spicier than the last. Washed down with some Paulaner beer, this was a real treat.
The final currywurst I came across was in a jar at Berlin airport for 6 Euros. I decided against it and thought I’d give the dish a try myself from scratch.
It’s not clear what kind of sausage is typically used (I’ve heard bratwurst and kielbasa thrown around a bit) so I went with the German sausage I found first – which was bratwurst sold in Tesco. Here’s how I got on…
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- 4 bratwurst sausages
- 2 tablespoons chilli sauce (I used the sweet Lingham’s Chilli Sauce)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- Pinch of paprika
- Medium curry powder to taste
Grill the sausages under a preheated grill until cooked.
Put the chopped tomatoes in a large saucepan and stir in the chilli sauce, salt, pepper, sugar and paprika. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.
Cut the sausage in to chunks and place on a plate. Cover with the sauce and sprinkle over the curry powder. Serve with chips or potatoes (I served with sweet potatoes).
Remember to wash down with some good beer and this is a great simple meal.
Berlin is a great place to visit for a mini holiday with lots to do and see. The underground is very easy to travel on so getting around is not an issue, but if you do walk on foot there’s also some great sights above ground.