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 GeneralissimoPrint
- Oil dough:
- 180 g all-purpose flour
- 30 g butter – softened
- 70 g lard – or you can use shortening, but lard is much better
- Water dough:
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 50 g butter – softened
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 120 ml water
- Potato filling:
- 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
- 350 g potatoes – peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 200 g boneless skinless chicken breast – diced
- 1 or 2 top-quality anchovy fillets, minced, Ortiz brand strongly-preferred (Optional TFD addition, omit if you prefer)
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves (strongly preferred) or use 2 bay leaves
- 50 g peas, thawed if frozen
- 50 g peeled diced celery, de-stringed – Chinese celery if available
- ⅓ cup celery leaves, minced
- 1 large yellow onion – diced
- 3 garlic cloves – diced
- 2 Tbsp. Madras-style curry powder
- ½ tsp. Kashmiri chili powder
- ½ Tbsp. freshly-ground cumin
- ¼ cup homemade or low-salt chicken broth
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- Salt to taste
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- To fry curry puff:
- Cooking oil
- Prepare the filling (can be done the day before):
- Heat skillet/wok with oil. Sauté onion and garlic until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add chicken pieces and stir fry until they turn color. Add potatoes, celery, curry powder, cumin, minced anchovy (if using), chili powder, the sprig of curry leaves and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add water or chicken broth, cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Uncover the lid and continue to cook until liquid has evaporated right before liquid has evaporated, add celery leaves and peas. Remove curry leaf sprig and discard.
- Sprinkle in the flour and continue to stir fry until the mixture sort of more “glue” together because of the flour. It is easier to wrap it later. Have a taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from the heat and let it cool down completely before wrapping.
- Prepare the oil and water dough:
- For the water dough: Mix flour, salt, sugar in a mixing bowl and stir to mix thoroughly. Rub the butter into the flour to form coarse crumbs. Add the water and gradually mix into a dough. Wrap it up with a plastic wrap while you prepare the oil dough.
- For the oil dough: Mix the flour with butter and lard and continue to knead until you can form a dough.
- Take the water dough and flatten it into a disc. Place the oil dough on top and wrap the water dough around it. Wrap the whole thing up and let it rest for 10 minutes before rolling the dough out. Don’t skip this resting step!
- Portion the filling into 20 equal portions when you are ready to wrap the curry puffs. Keep them covered and work with one portion at a time.
- Lightly dust your working surface with a bit of flour. Get the combined dough and roll it out into about a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Then roll it up with your fingers, starting from the side near you to the other side (like a Swiss roll).
- Then rotate the dough 90 degrees to the left or right (it doesn’t matter which). Use a rolling pin to roll it out again to a rectangle. Use your fingers to roll it up again starting from the side near you to the other side like a Swiss roll again. Wrap it up and rest for 15 minutes.
- Lightly dust your working surface with a bit of flour. Flatten the cut dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle, about 5-6 inches in diameter. Place one portion of the filling.
- Fold the dough into half to create a half circle and then seal the edge by pinching and folding up.. Repeat with the rest of the doughs and filling.
- Heat about 4-inches of oil for deep-frying over medium heat and fry in small batches until they are golden brown. Make sure there is enough oil and also to move them around a little bit as they are frying so the curry puff won’t be touching the bottom of the pot as it will create a dark burned spot.
- Remove from the oil to an absorbent paper towel. Keep them warm in the oven at 200 F if you like. The fried curry puffs stay crispy for hours at room temperature as well.
- Category: Recipes
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