Mr. B made gazpacho, and it was delicious. But it left us with half a litre of tomato juice in the fridge, which neither of us drinks except for me, on very rare occasions after long nights out when I have dragged myself to a licensed diner to have an American fry-up (crispy bacon instead the meatier English variety, hashbrowns replacing beans), a bottomless cup of coffee and a Bloody Mary pungent with horseradish and vodka. But I didn’t want to start making those at home. It’s easy enough to drink too much during the sunny afternoons we’ve been enjoying without perfecting my repertoire of breakfast drinks.
So what to do with the tomato juice?
Luckily I was cleaning out the refrigerator in preparation for our upcoming holiday, so the question presented itself while I was also wondering what to do with the mountain of small Turkish sweetpeppers I had bought from my favourite vegetable man, how to use up the last knob of ginger before it shriveled to woodiness and what to do with a whole packet of Bockwurst I had bought in a fit of nostalgia while looking for cheap cleaning supplies at Lidl. Spices, sausauges, tomato juice? Obviously, I would have to make Currywurst.
The sausages needed no fiddling with: just score and fry.
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
a walnut-sized knob of ginger, sliced
over low heat in home-made chili oil (just pour a bottle full of neutral oil over a large handful of hot, dried chilis, and let it sit for about a month) until the onions turned glassy and just started to take on colour.
Then I added
about 10 small sweet peppers (equivalent of about 4 red bell peppers), seeded and chopped
and allowed these to soften until they gave way easily below the gentle pressure of a wooden spoon. All that was simple enough, but what to add to really get the depth and roundness that good ketchup requires?Obviously, I would need something hot, so I added
three hefty shakes of hot chili powder
a heaping tablespoon of curry powder
bought at an Indian grocer in the East End. If I had just had supermarket curry powder, which I find to be a little less hot, I would have added more. I considered adding sugar and lemon for ketchup’s characteristic acidic sweetness, but thought I would wait until the end to see if the peppers and onions would provide enough sweetness and the tomatoes enough zing. I did, however, opt for
cinnamon, 2 good shakes
to emphasize the natural sugars in the vegetables, and
3 good shakes of paprika
to support the cinnamon in that role.
I sprinkled the whole with
1/2 liter of tomato juice
and let the whole thing simmer, uncovered, over very low heat for about 40 minutes, until everything was soft and enough of the water from the juice had cooked off for a jammy texture. I tasted it. It was sweet and spicy and good. I was glad I hadn’t added sugar. Neither did it need any added acid.
Now all that remained was to whiz it in the blender to give it a smoothness to rival the stuff that comes out of a bottle, and to spoon it over the sausages.
To get the look of real Berliner Currywurstbude Currywurst, Mr. B (a native Berliner) shook some extra hot chili powder and curry over the top. We ate our currywurst with a slice of my homemade rye-spelt-wholewheat bread. To round out the meal, we made a Turkish olive, tomato and onion salad. Echt Berlin.