Snack time

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:

Ingredients:

Filling:

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

Pastry:

1 lb plain flour
5 oz margarine or shortening
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Method:

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):

Hot out of the oil
Hot out of the oil

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:

Pastry

2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch (corn flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar/icing sugar/powdered sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter/8 oz./1 cup/225 grams butter (I use Challenge brand)
2 egg yolks

Pineapple Jam (Filling)

3 cans (20 oz can) sliced pineapples or 2 fresh pineapples
10 tablespoons or a heaping 1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
1/2 tablespoon cloves (optional) (I used ground cloves and recommend it)

Method:

If you are using canned pineapple slices, drain the pineapple slices and then squeeze the extra water/juice with your hands. Blend the canned pineapples until they are mushy, about 10 seconds. If you use fresh pineapples, remove the skin, cut into pieces and blend for 10 seconds.

Transfer the blended pineapple into a deep pan (non-stick preferably). Add sugar and cloves and stir well. Cook on medium to low heat until most liquid has evaporated, and the pineapple jam turns golden in color. Stirring constantly and continuously using a wooden spoon to avoid burning. Taste, and add more sugar as needed. Remove and discard the cloves and let cool in the fridge.

Sieve the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar in a big bowl or container. Soften the butter to room temperature. Combine the flour mixture, butter, and egg yolks together. Knead to form the dough. The dough is ready when it doesn’t stick to the hand. If the dough is too crumbly or dry, add a little bit more butter (about 1 tablespoon) until the dough is easy to work with.

Divide the dough into a few portions. On a cutting board or flat surface, flatten the pastry dough with your palms. Using a pineapple tart flower mold, press down the mold on the dough to produce the flower-shape cookie. Reuse the dough and repeat the same process until you use up all the dough.

Divide the pineapple jam filling into equal rounds and roll them into round balls using your palms. Place the pineapple jam filling on top of each tart. Place the pineapple tarts on a tray lined with parchment paper, arrange the pineapple tarts so they are at least 1/2 inch apart of each other.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.

My final result:

Golden goodness
Golden goodness

This is one of those recipes with more dry ingredients than wet and my dough was really crumbly. I added about two tablespoons of milk and that fixed it. If you use a cookie cutter, it’s easier if the dough is cold. When it warmed up, it wouldn’t separate from the cutter.

I never really got my jam dry enough. I found another recipe that recommended shredding the pineapple, separating the juice and then adding a little juice later if you need it, rather than blending and boiling off all the juice. I’m going to try that next time. I made the full pastry recipe but only half the jam recipe. They came out even and I got 40 cookies out of it. I also froze a few and they freeze and thaw fine.

These were really flaky and very light and tasty.

Pineapple tarts can be made in a number of shapes, here’s a photo with a variety. I like the little pineapples, myself. Or you can just make a plain ball with the filling inside. These would travel easier than the open-face cookies.

Borrowed photo of pineapple tart variations.
Borrowed photo of pineapple tart variations.

I bought my pineapple tart cutter and curry puff molds from Browncookie.com. They were great, I ordered them Saturday morning, they shipped that afternoon and arrived in a few days. As a warning, the small curry puff mold is tiny. I recommend just getting the bigger one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s