Cuisine: Authentic German Recipes

FROM GERMANY WITH LOVE. Chef Degan shares three authentic German recipes that go beyond sausages and pork knuckle


Braised Beef Roll with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings

There is more to German food than sausages and beer. Not only is it the reality, but also a personal belief that Degan Septoadji, ex-head judge of “MasterChef Indonesia,” would share with any curious foodie he encounters. Having been brought up in Rheinland-Palatinate, western Germany, this chef knows German cuisine through and through. The ingredients, the cooking methods and the respect for food are three things he raves about when discussing about the basics of the cuisine. And it is not always Bavarian dishes, as he points out, since the country has adopted culinary touches from France, Turkey and many other influences—take, for example, the ubiquitous curry wurst. While reminiscing about growing up on European terrain, chef Degan points out how German cuisine can easily be identified from accents such as mustard, onion and horseradish in the cooking. For side dishes, he mentions some breads and a range of potato dishes as the major staples.

“German cuisine can easily be identified from accents such as mustard, onion and horseradish in the cooking”


When asked to pick three recipes that exemplify German cuisine, chef Degan takes his time to carefully select the easy and delicious meals out of his lunchtime favorites. Why the lunch menu? “Because that’s when elaborate dishes are made,” he enthuses. “Breakfasts normally have muesli, cold cuts and breads; and, similarly, dinners also have cold cuts and breads. But lunches, especially on Sundays, are when families gather and enjoy meals over conversation.”

Once the recipes are set, he bolts to the kitchen and whips up the dishes one by one, with ingredients that can readily be found in Jakarta or other big cities in Indonesia, for that matter. “I have specifically chosen these, considering the level of difficulty and ingredient availability,” the humble chef asserts. “You can create these dishes at home, probably on Sundays with the whole family. It will no longer be just a cuisine then, but a cultural experience as that’s how the Germans would enjoy the meal.”

(Boiled Beef with Horseradish Sauce and Beetroot Salad)

Beautifully cooked, this boiled beef dish is simple and delicious. The horseradish sauce might be an acquired taste for some, and too much of horseradish might induce that spicy wasabi tang. Do you have to use imported beef? “No,” affirms the chef. If the recipe is followed thoroughly, the beef will end up very tender. He leans forward and whispers, “Just make sure that the water isn’t boiling, but only simmering. That’s the key.”

Tafelspitz (Boiled Beef)

  • 1kg beef topside steak (short-rib or flank can also be used)
  • 4 liter water
  • 10 pcs peppercorn, lightly crushed
  • 1 pc bay leaf
  • 2 pcs cloves
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, cleaned, peeled, cut in half
  • 1 medium-sized celery stick, cleaned
  • 1 medium-sized leek, cleaned, cut in half
  • 1 medium-sized onion, cut in half, blackened
  • 2 medium-sized potato, tournée, cut in half
  • Salt

Meerettichsoße (Horseradish Sauce)

  • 2 tbsp butter, fresh
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup beef broth (take from boiled beef)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 1 ½ tbsp horseradish, grated
  • Salt

Rote Beete Salat (Beetroot Salad)

  • 320g beetroot, boiled, peeled, cut in wedges
  • 1 tbsp onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt


To make the boiled beef, first bring water in a pot to boil. Add salt and beef into the water, and reduce the heat to allow the water to simmer. Tie up the carrot, celery and leek together with a string and add to the pot. Place peppercorn, cloves and bay leaf into a cheesecloth, tie up with a string to create a spice pocket and place it into the pot. Let everything simmer for about an hour before adding the potato and letting it simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove the meat and potato from the pot and slice the meat before serving.


Boiled Beef with Horseradish Sauce and Beetroot Salad

To make the horseradish sauce, heat up a saucepan and add butter. Once the butter melts, add flour and keep stirring till the flour blends into the butter. Add beef broth and let it cook till the liquid thickens. Add milk and cream and let it cook for another minute. Add horseradish into the sauce and mix well and evenly. Season with salt and let it simmer for another two minutes before serving.

Last but not least, for the beetroot salad, mix all ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the beetroot to absorb the dressing before serving.

(Braised Beef Roll with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings)

Pickles are a common staple in German cuisine. “Not just any pickle,” chef Degan elaborates, “but gherkins are the most common. It’s tangier and sour in taste than the pickles you have here.” That is why this recipe remains very much authentic with the incorporation of gherkins among the ingredients. The cooking process would take a lot of time, but the braised beef roll is one of the most delicious menus to be served at a Sunday family brunch.

Rinderroulade (Braised Beef Roll)

  • 4 beef topside steaks (150g), thinly cut, flattened
  • 4 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup onion, sliced, sautéed
  • 4 slices pork or beef bacon
  • 4 pcs gherkins
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp carrot, diced
  • 1 tbsp celery, diced
  • ½ liter beef gravy
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt

Rotkraut (Red Cabbage)

  • 2 tbsp butter, fresh
  • 1 medium-sized red cabbage, cleaned, cut into stripes
  • 1 medium-sized onion, cleaned, cut into julienne
  • 2 pcs apples, cleaned, stoned, sliced
  • 1 pc bay leaf
  • 2 pcs cloves
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt

Knödel (Potato Dumplings)

  • 800g potato, peeled, cut in quarter
  • 1 egg
  • 150g potato starch
  • 2 tbsp butter, fresh
  • 1 tsp parsley, cleaned, finely chopped
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Salt


Start off by making the braised beef roll. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Spread one-tablespoon of mustard evenly on each cut. Sprinkle the onion over the mustard evenly. Top each beefsteak with one slice of bacon. Place one gherkin horizontally on each beefsteak and roll it up. Stick a tooth pick into the beef roll to hold its shape. Heat up a medium-sized braising pan and add the olive oil. Put the beef roll in the pan and sear on all sides until evenly golden-brown. Remove the beef roll from the pan and set aside. Meanwhile add onions, carrots and celery in to the pan and sauté for two minutes.


Bavarian Cheese Spread

Pour in the beef gravy and place the beef roll back into the pan. Cover the pan and braise in the oven at 180 C for around one to one and a half hours. Once the beef roll is cooked, remove from pan to set aside. Meanwhile, continue to reduce the gravy until it gets to the preferred thickness. Season again with salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.

To make the side of red cabbage, firstly, put red cabbage in a bowl and lightly season with salt. Add raisins, bay leaf, cloves, one sliced apple, and then mix evenly. Add red wine to the cabbage mix and place it covered in the refrigerator overnight. Strain the cabbage and separate from the wine, and keep the red wine marinade. Heat up a pot and add butter. Add onions into the pot and sauté for two minutes. Add the marinated cabbage (raisin, apple and cloves) into the pot and sauté evenly for another three minutes. Add the remaining sliced apple and add the red wine marinade. Add honey, mix well, and cover with a lid to allow the cabbage to simmer until cooked. Remember to season with salt and pepper, as needed, before serving.

The last thing to prepare is the potato dumplings. Cook the potato in salted water till soft and cooked. Drain the water and pass the potato through a potato press. Allow it to cool down but don’t let it get cold. Add the egg, salt, nutmeg and potato starch to make a smooth dough. Work the dough into eight round dumplings by using your hands (moisten your hands with water to make it easier). Quickly roll the dumplings in potato starch before cooking. Cook dumplings in simmering salted water. Do not let the water boil and let it simmer. This way, the dumplings will stay whole and not fall apart. Let them simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove dumplings from water and set aside. Meanwhile heat up a pan and add butter until it melts. Season butter with salt and add chopped parsley before pouring the butter mix over the dumplings

(Bavarian Cheese Spread)

Cheese is a major European staple. This dish is evolved from how people in the past tried to re-cycle leftover cheeses by mixing them together and adding in other ingredients. With or without bread (you can use pretzels instead), the dish is simple and very much “exotic” from an Indonesian point of view.


  • 180g Camembert cheese, ripe, cut into cubes
  • 100g butter, fresh, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • ½ cup onion, peeled, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp chives, cleaned, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp beer
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • caraway seed (optional)
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt


Mix the Camembert, butter and cream cheese together; then put the mixture into a food processor and blend it for a very short time so that it still has a course texture. Or, instead of a food processor, use a fork to mash the ingredients into a rough mixture. Add the beer and mix evenly to smoothen the mixture. Put in the onion, chives, the caraway seed and paprika powder. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with pretzels, pretzel sticks, brown or sourdough bread.


Chef Degan Septoadji currently runs two restaurants: Café Degan in Bali and Letter D, his latest venture in Jakarta (Jl. Ahmad Dahlan no. 16; +62 21 7278 6111;