Obatzda: The Bavarian Cheesy Dish

To the Anglophone world, the word – obatzda does sound a little strange. So, what does it actually mean? To further understand this one must travel to Bavaria, Germany. Upon reaching there you will realise that it is nothing more than a very simple, yet tasty cheese spread. In Germany, the fan following of the obatzda is quite large and one can find them easily, popularly in the various beergardens or typically the Bavarian Biergärten.

Typically, the obatzda is a kind of Brotzeit dish and is served long with Brezn or Soft Pretzel. Obatzda’s taste is quite distinct and rich in calorific content. Precisely due to this factor a good German beer is its best-known tag along accompaniment. Also, obatzda is otherwise spelt as ‘obatzter’ and translates into English as – mixed one or pressed one. However, in the Bavarian dialect, the former spelling is more popular.

    Historical Titbits

As the story goes, there once was some leftover cheese and the rest is a matter of history indeed. It was from this leftover cheese that the German classical dish obatzda emerged. In the earlier times, cheese was an expensive commodity in the region. This was essentially due to the taxing process of manufacturing cheese. Therefore, it is not hard to imagine that leftover cheese was a matter of concern in every household. Furthermore, folks came up with many different tricks to make it edible. One of them required butter and spices to be mixed with the old soft cheese along with a specially made seasoning powder which comprises of caraway seeds and Kümmel, and chilli peppers. The popularity of obatzda reached its peak sometime around the 1920s. A Bavarian land lady is credited for serving the obatzda for the first time in Freising.

Caraway seeds are an integral component of foods that are often categorised to be indigestive. Today, however, fresh cheese has started to be used in the production of obatzda along with its induction in the European list of protected geographical indications (PGI).

Literally speaking the word obatzda in the dialect of Bavaria implies mashed or squashed. Moreover, if loosely put, the obatzda is nothing more than Camembert cheese that is mashed and spiced.

About the Recipe

The following instructions pertain to the preparation of obatzda, the famous Bavarian cheese spread. A few things you must keep in mind that the obatzda is quite rich and usually is consumed in the form of a snack. Typically of course, when it is locally served, the Biergarten is something that is an accompaniment. During the Oktoberfest in Munich, the dish is the star of the show.

This recipe is precisely the way German mothers have been preparing the obatzda for generations. Furthermore, it is also important to clarify that there are considerable number of ways through which obatzda can be prepared. It then becomes a matter of preferences and choices that one makes. Among the German expats obatzda holds an important position. This is particularly significant when events like potlucks are organised.

Ingredients and the Method

  • Camembert: I small or 125 grams or 4.5 ounce
  • Sweet paprika: 1.5 heaped teaspoons in powdered form
  • Caraway seeds: ½ teaspoons
  • Onions: 1 tablespoons freshly diced (the smaller the pieces better the taste
  • Cream cheese: 3 tablespoons in the form of a heap (it can either be the regular cream cheese version or sometimes German households also are known to use the spiced chilli varieties. Additionally, it is said that if you want to make the obatzd softer you can also use sour cream).
  • Salt and pepper: To taste

Before you begin make sure that the Camembert that is procured, is ripe or aged and soft. Furthermore, it is also advisable that one should not go on and needlessly spend money on some or the other imported variety of Camembert when it comes to this recipe. Additionally, you can go to any supermarket and get the cheaper verities such as Brie. Also, particularly avoid using low fat cheese. This is primarily because the required consistency cannot be achieved otherwise.

Now, just when you are about to commence the making of obatzda firstly bring down camembert to room temperature otherwise it would be quite sturdy and hard to mash. Furthermore, the aromatic development of the obatzda also develops fine in the room temperature. Sometimes, adding butter or processed cheese assist in its proper development. In the same context, if you go on and add the above ingredients, you will also have to proportionately decrease the amount of cheese cream to be used.

Then you can begin by taking a medium sized bowl, preferably made up of an unreactive material such as glass or ceramic. Next, you will be required to place the brine or the camembert in that bowl. In the next step, you will have to go on and add the required quantities of cheese, butter, ale garlic and caraway seeds. Now, before adding the paprika you will be required to thoroughly mix the above ingredients and then lastly add salt and pepper, and conclude by evenly combining all of the above.

Next, you will be required to take a strainer and rinse the said quantities of onions by placing it under running cold water. Then drain the remaining quantities of water and transfer it on to a kitchen towel that is clean. Finally, when they are dried, you can place them into the cheese mixture. Then cover the bowl and place it in a refrigerator for a period of at least four days.

In case you are using a French bread, then you will be required to slice them into ¼ inch thick slices. While serving one will have to place it along with Vidalia onion and radish slices and finally surround it with the freshly chopped vegetables, garnishing it with olives and eat it with either German or French varieties of breads.

Numerous varieties of the obatzda are also available in different regions of the world. For instance, take the example of Hessen or Limburger, Mainzer or Limburge. The sheer historicity involved in the dish, it has made the European Commission to place it within the list is protected geographical indications.