I have found curry powder being used in many unexpected dishes, but nothing had prepared me for the discovery that some of the most devoted fans of curry are in Germany. Germans combine their treasured sausages with curry powder and tomato sauce to create what is arguably the most popular fast food snack in the country - Currywurst! On a recent trip to Berlin, I had the chance to see for myself what currywurst was all about.
Drawn to the irresistible smell of curry and grilled sausage wafting from a street side stand in Berlin, I joined the throng of people crowding it and was soon digging into my first experience of the famous dish - grilled Bratwurst sausage, cut up and doused with a ketchupy tasting tomato curry sauce. Wow! It was a taste of Berlin and a taste of India all rolled up in one bite!
I soon discovered that I wasn't alone in my quest for the perfect currywurst. The entire country, especially Berlin was also obsessed with it! There is even a museum devoted to currywurst in Berlin, which of course I had to visit.
While there are many stories of how this dish came to be, my favorite is a romantic version made famous in a novel: "The Invention of Curried Sausage" by Uwe Timm. A woman named Lena Brucker, accidentally created it towards the end of the Second World War. She was hiding a young man in her house who had deserted from the army. Falling in love, she neglected to tell him that the war was over. Eventually he found out and left her. Heartbroken, she set about cleaning her kitchen and dropped a bottle of tomato ketchup and curry powder. While cleaning up the mess, she licked her fingers and realized that this mixture was quite delicious. And so, the first tomato curry sauce was invented in Germany! Currywurst soon became a fast food favorite around the country and remains so to this day.
My tomato sauce in this recipe borrows inspiration from India as well, but instead of the traditional bratwurst sausage, I’ve substituted an Indian style kabab. The results are delicious!
I’ve used ground chicken for the kababs but you can substitute any ground meat of your choice, such as lamb, beef or pork. Serve it with bread, basmati rice or naan!
For the Kabab Sausage:
2 cloves garlic
½ inch piece ginger
½ medium onion, roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 slice white bread, cubed
Salt to taste
½ tsp curry powder
½ lb. lean ground chicken
In food processor mince garlic, ginger and onion. Add 1/2 of the beaten egg (discard the rest), bread, salt and curry powder; mince again. Add chicken and process until everything is well blended. Transfer to bowl, refrigerate, covered for 1 hour or longer.
Preheat oven to 420F. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment.
To make kebabs, take a small orange sized ball of the meat mixture with dampened hands. Shape it into 4 inch long sausage lengths. Place on baking tray.
Bake for about 10 minutes per side, turning once. When lightly browned and cooked through, remove to a platter.
These kababs can also be molded onto skewers and grilled on a barbecue.
For the sauce
½ cup (about 3 large) canned premium whole plum tomatoes, pureed
¼ cup tomato ketchup
Salt to taste
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp curry powder plus additional for sprinkling as garnish
1 tbsp butter
Combine all the ingredients, except the butter in a non-stick skillet set over medium heat and bring to a bubbling boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover skillet partially and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the butter. Cook for 2 minutes.
To serve, cut up 2 kabab sausages on a plate and spoon about ¼ cup warm tomato sauce over. Garnish by sprinkling additional curry powder over top if desired.