Let's tease apart this tangle of cross-culturalism. My inspiration was a quintessential German snack food known as Currywurst, which involves bite-sized nuggets of Bratwurst served in a sauce made of ketchup flavored with curry. This delectable treat — it's really one of the most delicious, if not all that healthy, foods I've ever eaten — is most often eaten at outdoor venues off of a rectangular paper plate using a wooden "fork" that looks a little like a deformed popsicle stick. As if the cholesterol count weren't already off the charts, Currywurst is often accompanied by a paper cone of french fries with mayo. And a liter mug of beer. (Oh, why did I ever leave Germany?)
|Currywurst und Pommes mit Mayo|
It's the curry ketchup that makes an appearance in today's recipe. In Germany, to make this, they just squeeze a big glob of regular ketchup over the wurst chunks, then shake some curry powder over the top from one of those metal canisters with holes in the lid like the ones bakers use for powdered sugar. I don't usually keep curry powder on hand, since it is not an ingredient used in Indian cookery, so I have to improvise my curry ketchup by using garam masala and turmeric, which between them contain many of the spices that go into your typical curry powder.
Garam masala is a blend of ground spices that are thought in Ayurveda practice to have a warming effect on the body: black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cumin, and cinnamon, for instance. (The aromatic oils in the spices dissipate quickly at room temperature, so I store my homemade garam masala in the freezer.) Turmeric is the yellow powder that gives curry powder its orangey hue. Besides imparting its color and a subtle flavor, it is supposed to aid digestion.
To make 2 servings of "curry" ketchup, I put about 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric and garam masala in a small bowl:
Then I squoze a few tablespoons of ketchup (Trader Joe's organic) on top of the spices:
When I stirred it up, the ketchup took on the beautiful burnished color typical of curry ketchup:
|This stuff is good enough to eat out of the bowl like soup, but I saved (most of) it for the burgers.|
|You could substitute any other ground meat, but lamb has a , well, lamb-y taste which complements the flavorings I used here.|
To this I added a heaping tablespoon of fresh prepared horseradish. (Having recently gone through the quite literal pain of making this, I am looking for any excuse to use it.)
Then I crumbled a hunk of cornbread and added that as well.
I added some fresh thyme.
|I did remove the stems before throwing the leaves into the bowl.|
I stirred the ingredients together, but not for too long. You don't want a thorough mix, but more of a lumpy blend. (Think sedimentary rather than igneous rock. Oh, you didn't minor in geology?) Then I formed this gloop into 2 balls and put them in the fridge until dinnertime.
A few minutes before it was time to eat, I heated a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet and then put the meatballs in and flattened them into patties, which I fried for about 5 min on a side. (I was aiming for medium rare.)
I used a high enough heat to sear the outside, which seals in the juices and produces a lovely crust:
We enjoyed these burgers with curry ketchup dollops on the side, along with some reheated vegetable mélange — steamed root vegetables and radish leaves in this batch — sea-salted and drizzled with a little EV olive oil.
A glass of red wine rounded out the meal — which culminated in a strawberry shortcake parfait I'd bought at WF.
Won't you tell me about elements from other cuisines that you've incorporated into your personal cooking style?