…and with apologies to most of Germany, and a chunk of the British armed forces. Probably bits of France and India, too. In fact, this one might be worse than that time I ate a black pudding and cheese bagel.
Look, currywurst isn’t sophisticated. It never has been, and given you can now buy it from a little electric contraption balanced on a burly German’s crotch, it ain’t getting any better.
It is – however – getting wrapped in pastry:
Cuyrrywurst is iconic-teutonic street food of the dirtiest, most delicious stripe, and I grew up wolfing it down the way my dad made it. Which was the way he made it during a stint as an army chef. Which was with a thickened curry gravy, rather than the more traditional spiced ketchup.
A few weeks ago while working up a slightly off-beat achari recipe, I asserted that making restaurant-style curry at home was at best impractical, and at worst a lost cause. It turns out we’re living in the best case scenario, and the practicality of dishing up a Brit curry standard is directly proportional to your patience for boiling and puréeing industrial quantities of onions.
When going for curry, there are a few things I’ll order almost on auto-pilot, taking no shame in the cliché – jalfrezi, achari, and anything with spinach. Cooking any of them at home, however, is something I’ve more or less resisted. A lot of food writers have spent a lot of time and ink trying to help Britons synthesise caricature curry house dishes at home, and it’s rarely a success. If nothing else, it’s not very practical to make the industrial quantities of base sauces.
To try and duck that failure – and with zero claims to the remotest authenticity – this is a simplified mash up of some of my favourite curry flavours.
This recipe takes the basic spicy/sour pickle flavours of an achari curry, bolts it onto a standard onion-thickened base sauce, and then throws spinach at it. Because spinach. You can skip that part if you’re some kind of pervert.
Chana masala is an Indian restaurant favourite of mine. Heck, I’ll eat basically anything with chickpeas, but there’s something about the simple rich spiciness that makes chana masala particularly good.
I’ve cooked it twice in five days now, because the first round didn’t quite nail it. For round two – which worked – I went back to a basic recipe, built around a very simple curry gravy. Then, predictably, I lost my keeping-it-simple nerve at the end, and threw in a load of paneer.
I fancied something simple and veggie last night, so a light curry seemed to be the thing.
In hindsight, I should have used a recipe, rather than faffing and experimenting. The dollop of yogurt at the end was a definite mistake, for instance, but the flavours shook out ok.
I fried an onion off with the florets of cauliflower, adding ginger and garlic, and chilli as the onion looked like it was heading for done. Then I threw in some spices, which is the point at which i really should have grabbed a notebook. I’;m fairly sure it was about a teaspoon each of cumin and mustard seeds, and tumeric; along with a pinch of fennel seeds, some smoked paprika, fenugreek, and cinnamon. Were I guessing, I’d say about half a teaspoon each of those last three.
Fry the spices, throw in a couple of chopped tomatoes, diced potato, and some stock, then simmer until broadly functional.
I decided to go with a splodge of yogurt to thicken slightly. It didn’t work, as you can see from the pictures.
It would have benefited from something on the side, I think, or perhaps the addition of spinach.
Cook for You, the stridently titled and rather shouty Chinese takeout I frequent, does excellent Japanese-style pork curry. There’s some qualification there around given values of excellent, since at its very finest, it’s an unwholesome slop of curry paste and MSG, festooning breaded pork. My father, who did time as a chef for the army, would recognise the sauce as what you pour over bratwurst and fried potatoes to cure hangovers.In his case, a roux with curry powder, let out with water and tomato ketchup doesn’t sound either particularly appetising or particularly Japanese, but it’s more or less the same stuff.