Curry puff made with puff pastry, Singapore style.
Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson and Cheryl M. Cordeiro Nilsson for Cheryl Marie Cordeiro 2010
It was the large, triangular, multi-layered flaky pastried curry puff that I had in mind when putting this together. The kind that was stacked warm and neat on a newspaper lined cardboard box that was carried for door to door sales, usually by an Indian man or his son, when I lived in the high-rised government built blocks in Bedok North, Singapore.
I was about five or six years old when the large curry puffs, too large for me to finish on my own actually, became one of my favourite things to eat, beating the smaller, more reasonably kid-sized, fried rounded and pinched tipped version of curry puffs.
Having put aside some puff pastry for this project, the ingredients I needed to make curry puffs the way I remembered from Singapore are:
6 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion (3-4 shallots will do better)
1 inch of ginger
1 small clove garlic
3 tbsp meat curry powder
300 ml coconut milk (or enough to cook the potatoes)
6 eggs (boiled separately from the potatoes)
Salt to taste
These will render about 12 curry puffs of medium size.
The ginger, garlic and onion is grated to form a fine mush that is then fried on a low heat (as this tends to burn easily) in oil together with the curry powder till fragrant. A little salt goes in at this stage and if you want this mixture to be spicy, you can add chilli powder or finely pounded chillies with seeds and all.
The potatoes, after peeling and cubing into about 1 cm sized cubes, goes into the pot next. After frying the potatoes a little, the coconut milk is added. In Sweden, coconut milk can be easily bought off the shelves, so for that I’m grateful for, no need to go to the Asian grocers for that!
I used about 300 ml coconut milk for this batch of curry puff filling, adding it slowly to see that the liquid was absorbed by the potatoes as the cooking went along. What I wanted was a fairly dry mixture, so that it’s easier to spoon onto the pastry base later on. A curry that has more liquid gravy will do better for bread dipping.
Not shown in this post is another batch of curry puff filling that I made using potatoes and cubed chicken meat. The chicken was fried separately from the potatoes to lend some flavour and colour, after which the chicken is mixed together with the curried potatoes.
The eggs are boiled separately and then sliced in half or quartered to fit into the curry puffs. These rounded curry puff bases took about a quarter of an egg on top whilst the larger rectangular puff bases took about half an egg each on top of the spooned curried potato filling.
The picture above, the result of the rounded curry puff base, looking more like pies. It was done by cutting a circular puff pastry base, spooned with filling and egg and then topped by a similar if not slightly larger circular puff pastry top.
In variation to the curry puffs, I made potato curry pot pies by scopping some filling into a small oven safe pot and covering that with a lid of puff pastry, baking it at ca. 220C till the puff pastry lifted and browned.
To serve, the pastry was broken and the filling scooped up alongside it on a plate. I think medium sized ramekins would be best for this project so that each individual can claim their own pot pie, but since we’re still on the hunt for good sized ramekins, this pot pie was a little larger and had to be dished out before serving.