Berliner currywurst is the quintessential German street food. With the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this week, what better way to celebrate – culinarily – than with currywurst? This simple, quick and tasty recipe will give you all the goodness of German street food at home.
The Berliner currywurst tradition
Herta Heuwer invented currywurst in Charlottenburg in Berlin in 1949. According to the story, British soldiers stationed in Germany provided her with ketchup (or Worcestershire sauce) and curry powder. She mixed these together with other spices and made them into a sauce and served it over grilled pork sausages.
The currywurst became popular with construction workers rebuilding the city. So popular in fact, that Herta Heuwer was selling 10,000 servings per week at her street stand. Lamentably, she took her recipe with her to the grave.
In 1960, Konnopkes was the first ‘Imbiss’ to serve Berliner currywurst in East Berlin.
The German love of currywurst
Germans love currywurst. This love has even lead Uwe Timm to write a book called “Die Entdeckung der Currywurst,” (The Discovery of the Currywurst). It was turned into a play and was then filmed.
The currywurst is also the subject of a well-known song by German singer Herbert Grönemeyer.
Each year, an estimated 800 million currywurst are consumed in Germany; at least 70 million of these are Berliner currywurst. Automotive manufacturer Volkswagen even has its own butchery to produce currywurst for VW workers. It produces around 7 million currywurst per year.
In 2019, the Berlin State Mint even released a silver coin to commemorate 70 years of the currywurst.
Currywurst is particularly popular in Berlin, Hamburg and the Ruhr Area.
There are some differences with respect to the sauce ingredients, spiciness of the sauce and the cut of the sausage. There are also significant sausage differences. These include Halal, boiled or grilled sausages and whether or not the sausage has a natural casing.
Tips for the perfect Berliner Currywurst
As you can see from the recipe, there are two versions of the sauce, depending on how much time you have to cook it. The pictures you see here are of the quick curry sauce; the sauce is otherwise a little smoother.
Adjust the amount of chili in your sauce to suit your personal tastes.
You traditionally eat Berliner Currywurst with chips/fries or a white bread roll. In East Berlin, the currywurst was often served with a simple slice of bread.
A recipe for the perfect German street food
Berliner currywurst is the perfect German street food. You can now buy a currywurst around the nation at fairs, pubs, football games and almost every train station. Try this simple, quick and tasty recipe today to get a taste of German street food.
Currywurst is the quintessential German street food. This simple recipe will let you recreate it at home.
1 small white onion
1/2 an apple, peeled and cored
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
chilli powder, as desired
paprika, as desired
There are two slightly different methods of cooking the currywurst sauce, depending on how much time you have.
The quick curry sauce
Finely chop the onion and apple. If you have time, grate the apple.
Pour a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and apple. Cook, stirring frequently until the onion is glassy.
Add the other ingredients and stir well. If you like your curry sauce to be a little spicy, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder and an equal amount of paprika.
Add a little water, just to get the desired consistency, and cook over medium heat until heated through and well combined.
While the sauce is cooking, grill or barbeque the bratwurst. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
Serve the bratwurst with a good spoonful or two of sauce. Sprinkle a little curry powder over the sauce before serving.
The longer version
Complete steps 1-3.
Add a cup of chicken stock to the saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce to low heat. Simmer uncovered for about half an hour until most of the stock has evaporated and the sauce has the desired consistency.
Meanwhile, complete steps 5 and 6.
If you can’t get bratwurst, use another plain sausage, preferably with a natural casing. Don’t use hotdogs or other sausages that are designed to be boiled or warmed in water.
Add as much or as little chilli powder as you like to make it as spicy as you prefer. Add the equivalent amount of (sweet) paprika to balance. Make sure you do a taste test as you may need to add more curry powder.
Serve with hot chips or fries, or with a crusty (white) bread roll.