HYDERABAD: During my visit to Germany, I was totally floored by the enchanting magnificence of the place. The state of Thuringia, right in the heart of Germany is a mix of beautiful countryside and city. A wealth of culture is packed into a small area here.
Its delightful countryside is known for its warm hospitality. The undisputed favourites in the Thuringian cuisine are the dumplings served with many different types of roasted meat. I was treated to the best of these Turingian dumplings all through my stay.
In a quaint town called Heichelheim, near Weimar, dumpling lovers will find their own personal paradise. The “Thuringian Dumpling World”, is a museum of dumplings that offers both the history of the dish and an opportunity to taste.
The ingredients of Thuringian dumplings have been processed here for decades and visitors can experience everything first-hand. The guided tour I attended gave me an unforgettable culinary experience that was filled with fun.
Dumpling Mary (her real name Elke Schuler), a charming costumed presenter, gave a detailed history of potato and dumplings.
The history of potato is interesting. There were times in the past when potatoes were the only food that a family survived on. They also were a way to stretch a meal with a tiny bit of meat allocated to a big family, and these dumplings with gravy satisfied a large family, especially during famines when food was diffcult to find.
Potato was discovered in 1532 by Spaniards in Peru and Bolivia. In 1744/45 King Friedrich II cleverly used the potato against famine. He even made potato cultivation a legal obligation. From then it caught on, and potato became a staple food. Need I say that now the world is addicted to potato, especially in the form of chips and fries?
During the demo, Chef Jorg Richter with his dexterous hands and efficient handling taught us how to make dumplings.
We all participated in making the dumplings with lots of enthusiasm. Right from peeling the potatoes, grating them, extracting juice (which was the toughest part, pressing very hard and it really tested our strength), boiling them in hot water to eating them-which was the best part of course!
Dumpling Mary showed me around the museum too. Technology has been increasingly modernised, as illustrated by the potato gathering machines, shredders and dumpling presses in the museum section. We stepped into the giant dumpling for fun.
Originally found domiciled in Thuringia, currently dumplings are popular in the whole of East-Germany. But, nowhere are they eaten with so much pleasure and made as well as in Thuringia. Thuringian dumplings are a popular side dish to every kind of roast. I decided to try them back home, and discovered that they go well with our Indian curries too!
(The author is a travel writer and a documentary filmmaker focusing on art, culture and history)