Well, today started out depressingly gray and stayed that way all day, and something about the weather really got to me. I slept in until noon, slugged around for a bit without accomplishing anything substantial, and then took a nap again until 17h00, thinking that it would give me some more energy. Realizing that I hadn’t had a coffee all day—and that we were out of coffee grounds—I finally schlepped my butt into the shower and headed out to the nearby grocery store. I decided to check out the nearby Penny Markt, which is maybe a step up from Aldi and very similar to the Franprix chain in France. What was available wasn’t high quality, but at least it was cheap. I got a fair bit of pasta, a bottle of Coke, potatoes, sausages, toilet paper and tissues, espresso grounds and some chocolate for just under 18€.
Anyway, my day was spectacularly unproductive, except for the domain of food. Perhaps sensing that I wasn’t going to get any writing done, I went into the kitchen and made an ersatz curry that I’m rather proud of. And so, without further ado…
Luis’s “Deutscher” Curry
I’m calling this a German curry because I make use of sausage filling, potatoes and carrots as the main elements of the curry, which would often appear on a traditional “home-style” German plate.
- 2 generous pinches, each of the following whole spices:
- dark and/or light mustard seeds
- ajwan a.k.a. lovage
- approx 500 g of sausage filling
- (in germany, you can find this out of the casing, but if you can’t find that, just buy 500 g of uncooked sausage and then pull off the casings)
- 1 large white onion, diced finely
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
- 3 teaspoons of minced fresh ginger
- (more if you’re using prepared ginger)
- 1-2 hot peppers and/or pepper flakes (to taste)
- 3-4 cardamom pods, bruised with the flat of your knife
- 2 tablespoons of ground tumeric (or just use a generous dose of prepared currypowder)
- 3-4 small waxy potatoes (e.g., “princess” or “new” potatoes), cut diagonally into ½-cm slices
- 4-5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into ½-cm slices
- 1-2 cups of water or stock (as needed)
- ¼-cup of butter
- I was a moron and didn’t brown my meat and toast my spices first, but you don’t have to follow my mistakes. So you should take a large and deep saucepan / stockpot / dutch oven and put in about a ½-cup of oil. Add all of the whole spices (but not the cardamom) and toast at high heat until they begin to release their aroma.
- Normally, I would wait until the seeds start to pop before moving on, but we’re going to brown the meat as well, so toss in both the sausage filling and the onions, and break it up with a wooden spoon over medium-high heat. You want a bit of browning, so once it’s broken up, leave the meat to sizzle and stick to the bottom of the pan, moving it around every once in a while.
- Once the onions are at least translucent and the meat is mostly brown (if you’re working with ground pork, it won’t go deep brown like beef), toss in the tomatoes. They will release a fair bit of liquid, so take advantage of this opportunity to deglaze the pan (i.e., scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan).
- Add the garlic and ginger, mix, and then wait for the garlic to mellow out a bit (but don’t let it burn!).
- Add the hot pepper / pepper flakes, cardamom pods, tumeric, potatoes and carrots and mix quickly to coat everything.
- By now, the consistency of the mixture should be pretty thick, so add enough water (or stock) to just barely cover everything and mix well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and keep at a simmer.
- Go read a book or something. A good curry takes time, especially if you want that thick gravy-like texture, so set it simmer uncovered until the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, then add another cup of water, simmer, and so on until the vegetables are well-cooked and the sauce has thickened.
- When everything has come together, remove the pot from the heat and add the butter. Adding the butter after cooking allows for that buttery finish without adding as much butter.
- Allow to cool and thicken, and then serve with rice or, to be totally German, slices of dark rye bread.