Sunday, November 29, 2009
When my children thought these puffs were deep fried it was like little bubbles of pleasure had burst inside of me. I knew I had hit the jackpot.
Traditionally Malay curry puffs are deep fried to acquire a crispy crust to complement the spicy curry filling of meat and potatoes inside. But finally, I have conjured up the perfect curry puff crust....that is, baked and not fried, for a healthier version.
Yet they were crisp, crusty, crunchy and flaky and stayed that way for hours. Comparable and as delicious as the traditionally deep fried ones.
I had used the short crust pastry dough for the Nori Nibbles in my previous post but to which I added an extra ounce of butter which proved to be a very good move because it simply made the pastry that much crustier.
Since I also wanted the pastry to take the form of a spiral pastry dough which seems to be the rage these days in Malaysian curry puff world I rolled out the dough into a rough rectangle that was about 1/4 inch thick.
Then, just in the nick of time, I remembered Jamie Oliver's pastry for his Portuguese Egg Tarts. So I decided to sprinkle some cinnamon powder over the pastry rectangle before rolling it up.
That little activity stimulated me and I thought chillie powder would be good too so I reached for some and sprinkled that on which in turn got me more animated that I thought cumin would be even better so I sprinkled that on as well.
With that, I may have perfected the Art of Indecisiveness.
Verdict : None of the spices stood out in flavour. I should have stuck to one spice and sprinkled a substantial amount rather than a little of each. Preferred choice : cinnamon. Or curry powder?
No matter. The curry puffs were a hit anyway.
And although they were not as pretty as I would have liked them to be they passed the bill in this house.
PS : I had also sprinkled some grated cheddar cheese over the filling before I folded the pastry over to seal. That added a nice cheesy twist.
For the filling...............
200 gm beef fillet or chicken tenders, minced or cut into very thin and tiny pieces
2 medium potatoes or 1 medium potato and 1 small sweet potato, skinned and diced small
1 white onion, diced finely
2 pips garlic, (optional)
2 T curry powder plus 1/4 cup of water and mixed to a paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
1 T cornflour mixed with a little water
Some grated cheddar cheese (optional)
4 T cooking oil
Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions, garlic until fragrant. Add the curry powder paste and continue to saute until the curry paste turns darker and is cooked through.
Add in the diced potatoes and the meat and the chicken stock or water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are tender and the meat done. Add salt to taste. Finally thicken with cornflour.
Ideally the mixture should be between dry and ever so slightly saucy. Thick-ish really.
Let the cooked filling cool completely before using.
8 oz plain flour
5 oz butter, frozen block of it
5-6 T of ice cold water
Sift flour into a medium bowl, Grate the frozen butter over the flour. Using your finger tips mix the flour and butter so that the curls of butter are well coated and are distributed evenly throughout.
Sprinkle about 5 or 6 tablespoons of cold water over the flour-butter mix and using a fork at first stir to bring the dough together. If the dough seems a little too dry add another tablespoon of cold water and mix again. When the dough looks moist enough to cling together, use your fingers to gather and pat and squeeze the dough into a squarish shape very lightly.
*Excessive handling will make the dough tough and the butter will melt.
Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the freezer for 15v minutes or so until it firms up but not too hard sothat you can still roll it out.
*It is important that the butter remains in visible pieces because this is what will make the pastry puff, be crunchy and ever so flaky. The batter forms pockets as the pastry bakes and as it melts and the steam from the melting butter pushes up the dough forming layers making the resulting pastry puffy and flaky.
Take the dough out from the freezer and flour a board. Place the dough on top and roll out the dough until it forms a rough rectangle that is about between 1/4 inch thick. (Sorry that I did not measure the size)
You may make the edges neat by trimming them. I didn't because I did not want to waste any pastry.
Sprinkle some cinnamon/cumin/chillie powder or cayenne pepper generously over the rectangle of dough. Roll up the dough tightly from one end until it becomes a log. Place in the freezer again to firm up if your kitchen is warm like mine.
Constructing the curry puffs...............
Take out from the freezer and slice a few slices at a time (perhaps at most 4, if your kitchen is warm). The slices should be about but not quite 1 cm thick. Roll out one slice until it becomes a bigger circle about 3 inches in diameter. You will be able to see a spiral of dark spice in the slice of dough. Put the filling in the centre using a small teaspoon, add some grated cheddar dheese if you like then fold the pastry circle over the filling and crimp to seal with your fingers, Malaysian style, or press with a fork. Finish the rest of the pastry in the same way. You will get about 20 - 25 curry puffs. While you are doing a few slices refrigerate the rest.
Bake the curry puffs in a preheated oven at 170 C for s5 - 30 minutes until teh curry puffs ar alight golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!