The Agnostic One – He Who Seeks Peace Amongst All TFD Nation Citizenry! – must walk a razor-thin edge on today’s post, because this delicious recipe is equally claimed by both Malaysia and Singapore and holy wars are always a no-win exercise in frustration. As such, I have chosen to call my version a generic ‘Southeast Asian’ and hope that all sides will discover an honorable culinary truce in my most diplomatic wording!
All that said, spiral curry puffs look stunning, taste better and are by far one of the most popular street foods in the region – and with good reason! Despite their complex geometry, they are actually not that difficult to make and He Who Imparts All Culinary Wisdom shall now share these mighty secrets of the kitchen unto You, the Most Faithful! 😀
First off, it is worth noting that while Malaysia and Singapore share the innovation of the spiralized dough, Indonesian curry puffs are also commonplace, where they are known as karipok, but these are lacking the spiral pattern on the pastry shell. The same is true in Brunei, Myanmar, Thailand and elsewhere throughout the region.
These deep-fried (sometimes baked) treats are known as karipap pusing in both Malaysia and Singapore, as ‘pusing’ means ‘in a spiralized pattern’ in the Malay language. Freshly made, crispy and flaky deep-fried curry puffs are best eaten together with a glass of sweet tea known as ‘Teh Tarik’ while the filling is still warm.
A curry puff, to be specific, is a small pie consisting of curried chicken and potatoes in a deep-fried or baked pastry shell – TFD only approves of the classsic deep-fried version, as the Good Lord intended. The curry filling is quite thick to prevent it from oozing out of the snack as you bite into it.
A common snack in Malaysia and Singapore, the curry puff is one of several “puff” type pastries with different fillings, though now it is by far the most common. Other common varieties include eggs, sardines, and onions or sweet fillings such as yam.
There are a few different version of curry puffs, depending on which ethnicity made them. Curry puffs are enjoyed throughout Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand as a regional treat.
It also shares many similarities with the empanada, a popular pastry in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. It is also very similar to the Chinese crispy-fried dumplings that are a popular snack in Fujian, filled with Chinese garlic chives or crushed peanut and eaten during Chinese New Year.
The Chinese Malaysians applied the Chinese pastry method of the crispy dumpling, replaced the filling with the curry and finally created the spiral in their multi-layer version.
My version of this canonical recipe includes TFD’s unmatched spicing intuition as well as a filling more complexly-flavored than your typical street snack, but that is the unmitigated joy of following a TFD recipe, after all!
Some versions of curry puff in Malaysia use sardines as the protein – it is a very strongly-flavored snack and not for the faint-hearted! I have added one or two optional anchovies to the chicken and potato filling to give some umami and a slight flavor of piscine delight to the puff, but you can easily leave them out if you so desire.
Many versions of Malaysian curry puff use Chinese celery in the filling, and I too call for some Western celery stalks and leaves to emulate that flavor profile. Curry leaves are a must – if you can find them – to add the proper flavor notes to the filling, you can buy some excellent quality leaves here.
My Citizens, despite all appearances, this is not an especially difficult recipe to make AND extras freeze beautifully – you can even fry them frozen, if you so desire!
I hope all members of TFD Nation decide to try this spectacular recipe to share with family (and hopefully soon) friends! For an equally special dessert, try the delicious (and challenging!) Indonesian recipe for 30-layer cake, known as kue lapis legit!
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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