Category Archives: Munich Food

Bootstrapping Mexican Posole


Oh yeah, Klaus and Florian singing up there to stay warm in the FREEZING Zurich weather. These days I am doing a lot of commuting back and forth to Switzerland for the latest project. Thankfully it’s just a couple days a week, but often it really limits my ability to leisurely shop over the course of the week for random, hard to find ingredients. Not that there are SOOOO many of them, but sometimes, you have a recipe that requires you to go to three shops in town to find what you need.

That happened last Saturday evening when I had 8 people over for dinner. It’s still quite cold here in MUC as well, although warming up, thankfully, and I thought that a perfect foil for the weather would be some nice warm SOUP. Soup sounds boring. Like a first course, no? Well, not this soup. It’s Mexican Posole, a celebratory dish I think I’ve even blogged about here on this blog before. But it’s such a lovely perfect winter soup, that you can’t help but make it every winter a couple times.

It’s great because it’s a soup you can PERSONALIZE. You take the basic soup – a rich blend of charred and pureed peppers and garlic and onions, studded with chunks of chicken and hominy (dried and reconstituted corn) and perhaps some cabbage or zucchini. And you top it with what you want: cheese, cabbage, cilantro, lime squeezes, tortilla strips, slices of avocado, generous dashes of hot habanero salsa.

So what starts out looking like this:


In the end looks like this:


A delicious meal in a bowl. As a basis for the recipe I made, I used this recipe. And during the dinner, my guests asked me to send them the recipe.

Which I did the next day. Along with some notes. After I lectured them, I had to laugh a bit and realized that what I wrote made the recipe sound way too daunting. But it’s really really not. The substitutions below make things much easier to cook in a country that doesn’t frequently stock things like tomatillos and poblanos.

From my notes to my guests:

“A couple notes: 1) I substituted green tomatoes for the tomatillos. I looked for them, but they are HARD to find in MUC. Green tomatoes approximate the flavor. 2) I substituted green peppers for Poblanos. You can find poblanos in Muc in a can at a Mexican market. But I wanted a fresher taste. Poblanos are spicier in flavor, and green peppers are much bigger, so you will need to adjust a bit on the amount and the spicy factor. 3) I substituted cabbage for zucchini. I like cabbage in this soup better. 4) I left the fresh corn out and instead used double the amount of hominy called for (the dry corn). 5) I substituted feta cheese for the Mexican cotija cheese…because (yes, it’s like a broken record)…I can’t find cotija cheese in MUC. Feta is much sharper in flavor, and there are better substitutions – also available in MUC, but I didn’t have time to source them yesterday.

A few more notes: I don’t like chicken breast in this soup. I feel like it dries out much faster and gets stringy, because you are cooking it a long time. In a crock pot, that might be different, but for a regular pot – I ended up cooking the soup for about 2 hours in total – I would really recommend chicken thighs. After about an hour and a half of cooking, you take them out and remove all the skin and bone and put the meat back in the soup.

Fresh oregano rather than dried would also be very good, but you won’t need much of it. I added one more spice, a bit of chili chipotle. Chipotle IS find-able in MUC, or just ask me for a few teaspoons, you don’t need much. Go to any good spice store and you’ll find it right away. Chipotle is spicy, although not killer, but adds a really nice smoky zing to Mexican food, so I like it in this in moderation. I put in perhaps a teaspoon. (for the quantity in the recipe.)

Don’t skip the step of charring the peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions. The tomatoes will be done first, then the garlic (just wait till they are soft, not black), then onion and peppers. The charring step brings in depth of flavor as well.

Lastly, the tortillas we ate are corn tortillas, quite hard to find here. But…if you go to the taco shop, Condesa, in Münchener Freiheit, they sell homemade corn tortillas – 5 euros for 30 of them – a great deal! You can buy a package, use what you need and freeze the rest. They freeze beautifully.

It sounds like a pain in the ass if I describe all this, but the nice thing about this soup is that it’s flexible in a way. You can add and subtract vegetables and still get something quite tasty. Except for a couple ingredients, everything is standard in your grocery store. I will look for a source for the hominy here in MUC. In the meantime, fresh corn will also be great. You can put in white beans as a substitute for the hominy too – the texture is about the same as the hominy – soft and mealy – but you will lose the “perfume” of the hominy, which Itzik pointed out last night. Fresh corn will bring a lot of perfume back in, however.

Oh, and frozen corn is MUCH BETTER than the shit corn they sell wrapped up in plastic in the vegetable section. Do not buy that. And no canned corn. Please.”

Off to Zurich in the morning for the rest of the week. Might have to just go with a spaghetti this weekend. 😉







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Cooking with Ghosts


Happy Halloween! Well, a day late, but I started this post yesterday and then got waylaid.

First things first: yummy discovery, care of Christian, who posted a photo of the Chinese junkstreet food goodie he had a few days back and which I then needed to try. Jianbing.



Basically, a wheat flour crepe, with a fried egg coating…and inside a bit of ginger chicken, a spicy garlic sauce and a crunchy fried cracker to make the eating experience especially toothsome. Pour some nice ginger vinegar sauce on top and you are good to go. Very tasty – being served up at LeDu at Karlsplatz, just a couple S-bahn stations from where I work. But I went over there Monday, a day off – yes yes yes…I am finally getting some holidays, a big relief – during my shopping and running around. There are a couple of them apparently, scattered around Munich. Le Du’s, I mean.

And they must have inspired (?) my dinner this evening. The whole food wrapped up in a pancake thing. I had a craving for Indian food – because of the second source of inspiration, which came from the NYTimes’ special food article for Diwali, where they must have posted about 30 really good recipes for various dishes. And then there was the third inspiration. The Ghosts.

Namely, the Carolina (Ghost?) Reapers, given to me by my friend, Kurt, who knows I like a challenge.


Look at those babies! Cute! So cute. And so deadly. These are currently the HOTTEST pepper in the world. People try to eat these things whole and go to the hospital.


I cut one of the itty bitty ones Kurt gave me in half and then in half again. See. No, I didn’t dare to put that in my mouth. I lightly crunched a sliver of that between my two front teeth to see how bad it would be. I spit it out after about 5 seconds and went to find a cracker. It was that bad. But they were indeed very flavorful, if insanely hot. You breath fire for a few minutes, but it is a very fragrant sweet sort of fire. You don’t know what I am talking about…yeah, well, come over for a pepper, needless to say, they are not going very fast. But they’re keeping well.

But….a little bit went into a dish of dal. A bit went into some sauteed cauliflower….a whole small one went into my pressure-cooked chicken. And all in all, we were not gasping for breath at the end of my meal.


After cooking the chicken, I broke it down into bits and cooked it with some onions and herbs,


Defrosted some pizza dough and turned it into fake naan…


And served it up with the cauliflower, dal, some yogurt and an apple and tomato salsa for some Indian Burritos (patent pending 😉 )

Which were quite ok.


How’s that for cooking with ghosts?





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Better late than never

list of drinks at xmas marketsBetter late than never. I’ve been a bad bad blogger of later. It has been a combination of just too much to do in the last month plus the feeling that I haven’t cooked anything really new, innovative, new…

My mother made a blog request a week or two back that I agreed to create. Or at least, a request – “take some pictures of the Christmas markets” – that I interpreted to be a blog request. I’ve taken photos before of the markets, so nothing much new here, but nevertheless, worth an occasional revisit of some of the goodies that one can get at the millions of Christmas market booths in Munich and beyond.

First off, that photo above is a list of various types of mulled wine to be had. We’ve got the red and white wine versions, the blueberry, blackberry and cherry versions. Add a shot to it and you pay a euro more, Want it without alcohol (“children’s punch”) and you pay a euro less. Not listed here are all the modern variations – hot mulled mojitos, the “Feuerzangenbowle” – mulled wine with rum-soaked sugar, and the like.

Chocolate, yes, Chocolate tools

Chocolate, yes, Chocolate tools

I have to admit, I didn’t buy or eat any of these. And if you look really closely, you still might not believe these are edible. Quite a creation of art. These “tools” are all made out of chocolate. Rather brilliant, but probably a bit scary to bite into. I mean, have a look of these scissors. Hungry yet?

Chocolate scissors

Chocolate scissors

No, I didn’t think so. Far more inviting somehow, would be these little guys – found scattered all over the markets throughout Munich. Chocolate covered fruits – amazing really and so simple. You can find everything covered in chocolate at the Christmas markets and fruits are perhaps one of the nicest and simplest treats.

Chocolate covered fruits and cakes

Chocolate covered fruits and cakes

If you want to skip the chocolate altogether and concentrate a bit more on the fruit, go for a baked apple. Even better with a little caramel sauce or the like glazed over the top.

Baked apples

Baked apples

They smell heavenly when you pass by…

Speaking of which, so do these. And they start showing up months in advance of Christmas. You like nuts? Well, you’d go nuts for these nuts…all candied and amazingly delicious. Easy to gain 10 kilos in no time flat if you heat a few handfuls of these during the advent time… No, I didn’t. 😉


They are officially called “burned” nuts. Crazy, I know. But I guess it refers to the sugar being burned in a way. Here the sign below tells you what’s on the menu of nuts: almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, and cocoa almonds. My favorite is actually missing from the list – coconut. mmmm


Don’t have a sweet tooth? (Mine is a bit lame), then go for the savory treats. My favorite every year is the “healthy” version of a flammkuchen – essentially a whole-grain pizza with cheese, bacon, and chopped chives. No particularly healthy, but a yummy lunch after a session at the gym. And not huge.



Ok, for sure I am missing a million treats, but hopefully this smattering made you hungry for more. Come visit, please, next year, at the beginning of December. I’ll take you to find the best Christmas market “Leckerieen” (delicious things) you can imagine.

And between bites you can appreciate the musicians scattered around the pedestrian areas – they are usually extremely talented. I enjoyed watching these guys (Called “Connexion Balkon”) for about 20 minutes, despite the cold.


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Deconstructed Aushak (Afghani Ravioli)

Our winter without end continues to hunker down on top of us these days. Occasionally you will have a rare glimpse of spring encroaching (I write from Winter’s perspective – he fights hard, oh so hard, these days). Like the tree next to our apartment which exploded into bloom last night or the night before. I rode up on my bike yesterday afternoon, though the cold mist and general nastiness, and my heart fluttered a bit in hope when I saw it:

The jerk who graffitied the wall of the villa there did it ages ago, without the context of the tree. At least this week, and probably next, it has some literal value.

And the seasonal traditions continue as well, despite the ill-matched weather. On the way home from work some days back I saw a typical spring occurrence, although I have no idea about it – the breweries near the office all do something like this:

Beer procession?

Beer procession?

I don’t know, maybe it is just marketing. It’s weird to see a carriage and horses hauling barrels of beer around normal streets where cars and trams pass by. Spaten – the brewery – is just around the corner from us – so I guess this little parade was on its way there.

Damn it, it is supposed to be WARM and SUNNY today. At least according to Apple’s weather report for Munich. WTF?

I just finished baking some plantain chips. I’ll sprinkle them with some salt and pepper and hope that the sun will come out later so I can go sit in a beer garden and eat them. That would be very summery. One can hope.

Meanwhile, what I really wanted to write about was a cooking failure transformed into a success. I came across this recipe a couple days back, and it must have been cold and yucky on that day as well (the rule rather than the exception at the moment), because even though the recipe is full of leeks, a vegetable I associate more with spring, it also has a rich lamb sauce and garlicky yogurt. More of a wintery feel to it. Perhaps appropriate for the weather schizophrenia. Indeed, topped with mint oil, and paired with a minty Hugo, it all becomes a little confusing. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because it’s simply an amazing dish.

Now what about this failure? The dish is supposed to be leek ravioli topped with a lamb or beef ragu and a garlic yogurt sauce and sprinkled with mint oil. This is Afghani in origin, and I’ve never eaten these yet in a restaurant. I need to keep an eye out for them. Here’s what they are supposed to look like:

Afghani Aushak

Afghani Aushak

My failure was simple. I bought some fresh sheets of lasagna pasta at the grocery store to use for the ravioli. But they were simply too hard. I should have just used the won ton wrappers that every single recipe I read recommended. Or else made the dough myself. By the time I realized that the dough wouldn’t work it was 7 pm. The won ton wrappers I have in my freezer were a frozen block. There was no way in hell I’d be able to defrost them quickly enough.

But…for your future reference, Deconstructed Aushak are just as tasty I think, as the real thing. I quickly sliced the dough into fettucini-thick strands, threw it into my boiling water, drained it a few minutes later and tossed it with the leek mixture that should have gone into the ravioli. Plated it up with a ladle of the lamb ragu, a large dollop of the garlic yogurt and dribblings of the mint oil. Success.

Deconstructed Aushak

Deconstructed Aushak

It was faster as well, although I wouldn’t have minded making the ravioli. Will try these again, perhaps on Thursday evening this week, when some girlfriends come over for dinner.

I followed the recipe linked above mostly to the letter with a couple exceptions: I added some chopped fresh dill, mint, cilantro and parsley to the leek mixture. And I used some turkish chili pepper in there as well. I could imagine making this completely vegetarian as well. Instead of a meat sauce, I would make lentils. Not a creamy daal, more of a lentil porridge, where you still have a bit of the grain of the lentil intact.

Happy cooking – these are worth a try!


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Feeding my Hungarian roots

Sooo….there was one last meal at the Christmas markets a few days back. I had been curious about a food booth I had seen at the Schwabing market (which has a lot of non-German foods as well – Ethiopian being a favorite). A week or two back I’d seen a bunch of people eating some kind of puffy flat bread topped with all sorts of stuff and found out that this thing was called “Langos.” The line at the place that was selling them was too long, though. And naturally they were making them on the spot, which took a few minutes per order…and at least 10 people were standing there waiting in the cold. So at the time, it was a quick decision – no Langos…

But on the 23rd, right after a visit to the gym, where I had a decent 6 km run on a treadmill plus a good 30 minutes on the Eliptical machine, I dropped by the market before going home. It was close to empty, because if you don’t have presents for your loved ones by then…you’re obviously a depraved individual. Ehm…clearing throat.cSo there was no line for these “langos” treats, which I have just learned are Hungarian in origin. Ah ha – as good a reason as any to try them. Seeing that I am half Hungarian…some 5 or 6 generations back. Just researching and understanding my cultural roots.

I ordered a Langos with garlic, cheese and tomatoes.

Langos - Hungarian street food

Langos – Hungarian street food

And…not bad, but not great, I would say. There was a bit too much of a feeling of…substituting local ingredients. Tomatoes were not great – an unfortunate fact of the weather in Germany…although I imagine Hungary is not so different at the moment, cheese was standard plastic bag stuff – that could have been better. Bread could have used a pinch of salt. Nothing I would re-create at home because I don’t fry things at home…but nice enough to try at a Christmas market. After I had eaten it, I passed the Flammkueche stand that sells a localized version of the Alsace treat with whole wheat bread…and kind of wished I had eaten it instead.



Today…the second day of Christmas in Germany…will be a leftover day. Perhaps I will make some fried rice in the spirit of what Jews generally do on Christmas – eat Chinese food. 😉


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Chocolate Döner at Tollwood

Really? Did the world need this particular thing?

Chocolate Döner stand at Tollwood

Chocolate Döner stand at Tollwood

Wandering around one of the local Christmas markets a couple days back, I ran into this new concept: chocolate döners. A döner, for those of you who don’t live in Germany and don’t know, is a “Turkish” sandwich made insanely popular here – probably by Germans, not Turks. Shavings of lamb or other meat mixed with fresh salad and tomatoes, garlicky yogurt sauce, slivers of onions, and wrapped up in a flatbread or a roll. Runs you about 5 euros and 700 calories…In the US we would call them “Gyros.” And they would be considered Greek, not Turkish. Same concept though.

Now you can get the sweet version of the tasty sandwich: the chocolate version. Instead of scraping meat off a rotating stick, the lady there scrapes chocolate. And mixes it with things like fruit and whipped cream and sweet sauces…rolls it up in a waffel or something…and voila – your chocolate döner. I couldn’t even get closer than this to take a better photo, the place was overrun with people waiting in line to grab their piece of chocolate paradise.

I think…if I indulge…I would go for a crepe. The chocolate döner will not appear on my “die, die, must try” (Singaporean for “gotta have it”) list…


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Forest Creatures Invade Marienplatz

After getting out of the gym I decided to indulge and grab lunch at the Christmas market right outside. (Happy Hannukkah, btw, everyone! Yesterday was the first day of that holiday.) And there was little question about what I would be eating: one of my favorite dishes that I really only eat around the holidays – Schupfnüdeln (technically not from Bavaria, but rather from Schwabia in origin). Like a skinny potato gnocci tossed with sauerkraut and bits of ham. With a hot glass of mulled wine, I was a pretty happy girl.

Winter food: Schupfnüdeln

Winter food: Schupfnüdeln

It doesn’t look like much, I know, but sometimes homely looking food is the best. Especially when you are eating it outside half-starved after a long workout in 3 degrees below zero temperatures.

And then…the oddest thing happened. I was suddenly surrounded by forest creatures. Monsters. Monsters that roared at you and hit you with their twigs and who actually were scaring the crap out of most of the little kids there with their parents.

Was the Best. Parade. Ever.

They were really creative and beautifully put together costumes and now I just need to find out the history of these guys.

So for now a bunch of photos…and more later perhaps with some more background on them.

Monster mask

Monster mask

Big Hairy Monster

Big Hairy Monster

Horned Monster

Horned Monster

Skeptical monster

Skeptical monster

Monster Keeper

Monster Keeper







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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Munich Food


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