Kuih is a term for treats that can either be sweet or savoury. They are often bite-sized, colourful and encompass a variety of baked, steamed, fried and boiled snacks. These kuih are often eaten as breakfast or during tea time.
Curry puff (karipap in Malay) is one such savoury kuih that can be found in almost every kuih stand in Malaysia. It is a little tedious to make it at home, but it will be worth your while when you bite into the freshly cooked pastry.
50ml cold water
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 large potatoes, skinned, and diced
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cm ginger, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 tablespoon (meat) curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup water
Add the butter to the mixing bowl containing flour. Rub the cold cubes of butter into the flour using your finger tips. Make a little well in the flour, add the water little by little, mixing it well with the flour. Knead the dough until it is firm, not sticky and leave aside to ‘rest’.
Saute the fennel seeds, cinnamon and star anise with onion, garlic and ginger in some oil on low heat. Add the potatoes and seasonings. After cooking for four minutes, add the curry powder and water and allow the potatoes to cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, or until they are soft. It’s important for the curry to be thick, or it may leak out of the pastry shell when frying.
Roll out a small amount of dough (somewhere between the size of a grape and a large strawberry) to 2mm thick. Use some flour to dust the surface you are rolling out these pastry. Trim the edges to form a circle if it isn’t already in that shape. Spoon a small amount of the potato curry filling into the centre of the dough, fold in half and crimp the edges. This process will be easier if you had a curry puff or pasty mould. I normally just pinch the edges to crimp them.
Here would be the best opportunity to freeze some if you are making extras for another day. Heat two cups of oil in a wok and fry the curry puffs two minutes on each side. Drain excess oil off with some kitchen roll and enjoy. Take care while deep frying and beware that the filling might be hotter than the pastry when you eat it!
Tips for deep frying:
Ideal oil temperature for deep frying is 170-190 °C. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer (neither do I), the best way to test is to drop a small piece of the pastry into the oil. If it starts fizzing and frying immediately, you know it’s hot enough, but it shouldn't be evaporating away, or it’s too hot.