"Learning how to crimp a curry puff perfectly is one of my earliest food memories. From the age of six, I used to practise obsessively on Play-Doh. If you can't manage the crimping, the job is easily done by using the tips of a fork to press down on the seams. As long as they're adequately sealed, they will go down the same way. For those longing for a sauce, there is no need – these moreish little parcels are a crowd-pleaser, full of flavour and traditionally eaten as is." Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ large brown onion, peeled, diced into 5 mm cubes
- 2-3 tbsp meat curry powder
- 250 g chicken breast or chuck steak, diced into 5 mm cubes (use mince if you're lazy)
- 100 g sweet potato, peeled, diced into 5 mm cubes
- 1 medium potato, peeled, diced into 5 mm cubes
- ½ tsp sugar, or to taste
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
Shortcrust pastry (see Note)
- 3 ⅓ cups (500 g) plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 250 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 120 ml chilled water and more if required
- 2 litres vegetable oil, for frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 30 minutes
To make the filling, heat the oil in a medium sized non-stick frypan over medium heat. Sauté the onions for about 2 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the meat curry powder and cook for about 10 seconds or until toasted and very fragrant. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked. Add the remaining ingredients and stir-fry for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Taste and season further. Spread mixture out on a plate to cool, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, to make the shortcrust pastry, combine the flour, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Break off chunks of butter and, with your hands rub the butter into the flour vigorously until you achieve a sandy consistency. Gradually add tablespoons of water at a time and, rather than kneading, use a gathering, squeezing action to bind the mixture into a firm dough. Roughly shape into 3 discs, cover with cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
To stuff curry puffs, dust a clean benchtop with a little flour and roll pastry until 3 mm thick. Cut 20 circles with a pastry cutter - cut all your pastry out at once then lay the cut pieces on baking paper, cover with cling wrap and place in fridge. Working with only a few pieces out of the fridge at a time, fill each circle with a teaspoonful of mixture. Fold in half then squeeze the edges together and crimp or using the tips of a fork, gently press on the seams (resting on benchtop) to seal the edges. Place the curry puffs on a tray in the fridge until ready to cook.
To fry, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or wok. To test if the oil is ready, drop in a very small portion of pastry. If it turns golden in 15-20 seconds, you are good to go. Fry 4 curry puffs at a time until the pastry is a beautiful deep golden, then drain in a colander lined with paper towel. Another option is to brush the curry puffs with an egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp of milk) and bake at 180ºC or 170ºC fan-forced for about 25-30 minutes until deep golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.
• Don't waste pastry scraps! Leave at room temperature and knead scraps into a ball, then flatten into a disc, cover in cling wrap and freeze for a rainy day. Don't try to use the scraps right away (the gluten needs to relax overnight) or you will have a hard time rolling it out and it will shrink dramatically when cooked. If you are saving store-bought pastry, trim the dry edges off before kneading into a ball. Make sure you weigh and date the dough before freezing.
• If using store-bought pastry, you’ll need 1 kg.
Photograph by Randy Larcombe Photography.
Reproduced with permission from the book Same Same But Different by Poh Ling Yeow, published by ABC Books/HarperCollins Publishers Australia, 2014.