Last year we participated in Multi-Cultural Night at Katy’s middle school and did a booth on Singapore. It didn’t take us long to figure out this is mostly a big potluck and we needed more food. I decided it was time to get serious about making curry puffs. I’d tried a couple of times years ago and they were pretty much a disaster. So this year I found what looked like a good recipe on line and tried it.
Curry puffs are a really popular snack in Singapore. In middle and high school they were a common choice for our morning snack time, as Mr. Ho’s curry puffs were wonderful, along with everything else he made. You can buy them just about anywhere and Heath says Starbucks even sells them although theirs aren’t as good. They are a light flaky pastry filled with a curry-flavored filling of meat and potatoes or potatoes and peas or just potatoes then deep fried. The traditional shape is a half-circle with a crimped edge but Mr. Ho’s were triangle shaped.
This is the recipe I tried. I left out the meat because I wanted to cut down on food and money wasted in case they didn’t turn out. I recommend a good quality curry powder, the McCormick just wasn’t quite right. For the first batch I made the dough and it didn’t come out very well. The second batch I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust that you roll out. Unless you’re really good at making pie crust I recommend the ready-made. Traditionally they are fried but you can bake them if you want to cut down on calories. They freeze well, too.
Here’s the recipe:
5 tablespoons oil
1 medium red onion (finely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon kurma powder or chicken curry powder
2 teaspoons meat or chicken curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup of finely diced chicken breast meat
2 large potatoes (boiled and finely diced)
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb plain flour
5 oz margarine or shortening
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Make the filling first. Heat oil and fry onion gently until golden brown. Add the kurma powder, curry powder, chili, turmeric and fry gently. Add the chicken, potatoes, sugar, pepper, salt and cook for 5 minutes. Mix well and leave aside to cool.
To make pastry, mix flour with margarine, water, salt, and knead well. Let it rest for 1/2 hour. Cut the dough into circles (3 in) in diameter. Fold pastry over to make a half circle and crimp at edges. Deep fry in hot oil until golden.
And the result (the second batch):
I found a 3-inch cutter was too small and a four-inch one was a good size. I’ve since bought a curry puff mold to use next time.
Another thing I’d been toying with making for a few months was pineapple tarts. When I was in third and fourth grades we had a Malay amah who made the best pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year. They are shortbread cookies with a little pineapple jam in the middle. I always knew them as a CNY treat and then recently discovered they are also eaten at Muslim holidays, which makes since as they are popular in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Singapore. The traditional shape in Singapore is a flower and I found the molds online and was able to buy one. In Indonesia, they are made into a ball. No matter how you shape them, they are light and flaky and just slightly tart.
This is the recipe I used: