food and drink

Polish Zurek

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This is one of my favouriate meals; Zurek, or Polish sour soup. It’s made from a fermented base of fermented rye flour, with kielbasa and boiled eggs added. Traditionally its served in a bowl made from a really hard bread. The bread is so hard that you can’t really eat the bowl, but the soup is brilliant.

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Here’s the recipe. You have to make the fermented base a few days in advance, and then you can make the soup.

How to make the base for ?urek

You will need:

  • about 1 cup of rye flour
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2-3 cups of warm water
  • bread crust (the best would be rye bread)
  • few grains of allspice
  • optionally 1-2 cloves of garlic

Mix the flour with the boiling water until there are no lumps. Then set it aside to cool. Add bread crust (it should sink completely), garlic, and remaining water. Put the mixture in a jar or clay pot covered with gauze or a delicate piece of cloth. Let the mixture sit for 3 days at room temperature. (each day mix the ingredients delicately). After that time it should be ready to use. As the flour ferments, there will be some lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast. There is also a very special (?) aroma.. You can use it immediately or put it in the fridge (it can be stored for about 2 weeks).

Now you are ready for the classic ?urek recipe

Ingredients

  • Zakwas (?urek base) about 0,5 l
  • Soup vegetables
  • Sausages and smoked bacon
  • Dried mushrooms (optional)
  • Garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • Marjoram
  • 5-6 grains of allspice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Prepare the vegetables (wash, peel and cut into smaller pieces). Bring them to boil with about 3-4 cups of water. Reduce a heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add sausage or bacon and mushrooms, return to the boil, reduce heat and cook another 30 minutes. Remove sausage from soup, slice when cool enough to handle, and set aside. Strain stock through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the stock to the soup pot. Add “zakwas” to the stock (the clear part from the top and 2-3 spoons of the thick flour from the bottom). Bring to a boil, add sliced sausage pressed garlic and other spices. in heated bowls with half a hard-cooked egg in each serving and rye bread on the side.

(original source for the recipe is http://blog.polishorigins.com/2013/06/26/zurek-traditional-polish-sour-soup/, but seems to have died)

Currywurst

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Currywurst is one of the strangest things to come out of Germany. Of course Germany is famous for its sausages, but how on earth did curry-flavoured sausages become such an institution in Berlin?

Supposedly in 1949, a German called Herta Heuwer obtained tomato sauce and curry powder (yes I know my colleagues from Kolkata will cringe at the words “curry powder”, but such it is in Europe) from a British soldier, turned it into a sauce and started it with sausages to locals. And from there it spread all over Germany. Cds IMG 1129

Personally, while I love German sausages, and I’m a huge fan of Indian food, I’m not sold. The flavours are a little too different for my taste. I’ll eat one or the other, but not both at the same time. But when in Berlin, eat as a Berliner.

You can read all about currywurst here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currywurst

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