Monday, July 28, 2014

Curry Puffs made with Traditional Melt-in-the-Mouth Pastry

After cooking these traditional curry puffs, I feel like I have conquered a victory...

traditional nonya chicken potato curry puffs
Traditional Curry Puffs with Melt-in-the Mouth Pastry

... but feeling "defeated" while enjoying these curry puffs with flaky layers of melt-in-the mouth pastry. Geez! My boy and I were enjoying every single bit of these flaky folded edges of these puff.

Flaky? This is what I mean... This is one of the non-curry puffs that I made for my boy.

Feeling winning and defeated? Why? After enjoying all of our spiral chicken curry puffs, my boy has been constantly reminding me that I have to make more curry puffs with no curry for him and his school lunch. With no hesitation, I will. Although I really like the spiral kind of curry puffs that I have made, I like to re-create curry puffs with the most traditional kind of all margarine kind pastry that I used to love. Most traditional kind of curry puff? Yeah... Sort of like the Old Chang Kee kind with melt-in-the-mouth and rich-tasting kind of pastry. Being a health freak, I know that I sounded ironic too, trying to make curry puffs that is healthy...

Healthy curry puff ??? I bet anyone who know and eats curry puff often enough will say..."huh!" Ok ok... I must agree that the obvious answer is... Never!

I always remember those good old days when I was a little fatty helper shaping curry puffs with my grandmother, mum and auntie Lita. I remember that we made our curry puff pastry based on my grandmother's agak agak (meaning estimation in Malay) instructions. And, the pastry was mainly made with Planta margarine and its final texture was fine-tuned with the addition of water and also depending on the humidity and amount and type of flour that we have on the day.

Do we add eggs or egg yolks in our pastry?
What is the ratio of flour and margarine that we used?
What is the best texture of pastry that we are after?

Seriously, I don't have firm answers to these questions?

All that I know now is the negative effects of trans fats in the margarine that we used to eat and should avoid using this ingredient.

With all I can recall, I have tried to make curry puff pastry using following methods...
1) all butter pastry made with chilled butter with no egg in sort of this proportion (as mentioned in Poh's Kitchen) but it was flaky and hard to shape
2) all butter pastry with no egg and higher butter content but pastry disintegrated into the frying oil during frying - Oh! NO!!!
3) butter pastry with egg and water to bind but pastry was too tough and rubbery to shape - resulting broken curry puffs!
Fail! Fail! Fail!

Obviously, butter is not the right fat to use to make the best traditional curry puff pastry. As I'm trying to say NO to margarine, my next best option is to use shortening and this is why I was feeling a little defeated. For a healthier option, I'm using Crisco shortening which contains 25% saturated fat and 0% trans fat and at least I know that I am not feeding my family with excessive trans fat with all these curry puff pastry.

This curry puff pastry recipe that used is mostly adapted from Rasa Malaysia. What I like this recipe is... It doesn't contain a ridiculous high amount of shortening as it uses a good amount of water to bind the dough and yet the pastry is still so tasty.

Is this pastry as good as Old Change Kee? Not exactly but kind of... It is flakier and more melty. Old Change Kee curry puffs are slightly firmer with smoother outer texture. and I reckon the different brand and types of margarine or shortening used will create all these difference...

I'm not advertising for Crisco here but this is better option that I have chose to use.
Pastry before resting... This recipe requires kneading and resting to get a smoother texture.
For my curry-sensitive boy, I cooked two types of filling to make these puffs.
Shaping the puffs
... and frying them.

Phew! Glad to see that these pastry stay in shapes and doesn't disintegrated into hot frying oil... Clearly, being stable enough in room temperature, margarine and shortening are the most appropriate fat to use to make the traditional kind of pastry for curry puffs.

For a different texture, I like to try another recipe that I have seen at Joceline's post (Butter, Flour and Me) in the future. It uses a lighter combination of all-purpose flour, glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour, butter, oil and water. With the use of oil instead of all shortening or all butter in the pastry, I reckon Joceline's curry puffs should be the more healthful kind rather than these melt-in-the-mouth ones that I have made.

Here are the recipes that I used to make these traditional melt-in-the-mouth curry puffs.

Chicken curry (or non curry) filling recipes are found here.
Please note that I didn't make these puffs with any hard boiled eggs as I was going to freeze them.

Shortening pastry that is mostly adapted from Rasa Malaysia

Makes about 20 small curry puffs or 10-15 medium ones
450g all purpose flour
150g shortening, preferably Crisco
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

To make pastry:
In a mixing bow, combine flour with shortening, water and salt to form a dough. Place dough on a clean surface and knead it for at least 20 mins or until it become pliable with a rather smooth surface. Divide dough into two equal portions and roll each into cylinder shape. Let it rest in room temperature for at least 30 mins.

Using a knife, divide or slice each portion of dough into 10 or 5 equal segments (depending on the size of puffs that you want to make). Using a rolling pin, roll each sliced dough into flat and round disc. Place enough filling (about 1 1/2 tbsp for small or 2 tbsp for medium curry puffs) in the middle and fold pastry to enclose.

To crimp the pastry manually like the traditional way, pinch the edges flat and fold in at 45° angle to form a plait. 

Heat sufficient frying oil (preferably canola oil) in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Deep fry the puffs, tossing continuously until golden brown. With reference to my previous curry puff post, please note the addition of shortening in this frying oil is not required as this pastry itself contains shortening.

Remove with a pair of wooden chopsticks or a slotted spoon, shake off excess oil and drain on kitchen towels before serving.

Happy Cooking
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  1. Wow your crust really looks buttery and melt-in-the-mouth! And the filling looks very beef stew.. If I can customise my own filling, I would make chickwn cornish and beef stew.. Yummzzz...

  2. i am running short of puffs here... heh heh.. too lazy to make... spirals or no spirals, they are all made with love so i know i will enjoy it as much as your boy.. i will take the lot with curry

  3. curry puffs are just awesome.. visit my space too

  4. Hi Zoe, is it okay to knead the dough in a standing mixer or bread machine?

    1. Hi Andre,

      Sure. You can use a standing mixer with the hook attachment to knead this dough but wouldn't recommend kneading using a bread machine as its warm temperature might change the texture of shortening in the dough. Cheers!


  5. The curry puffs and pot look also nice! Ha ha ha ...

  6. Hi Zoe, 2 flavour curry puffs ... all looked so yummy and most of all ... the traditional melt in the mouth pastry !

  7. hi zoe, i've never tasted old chang kee curry puffs...most of the curry puffs that i hv eaten were like the epok epok type. hopefully one day i get to try the old chang kee ones..

  8. You're the best mom, Z!
    I love that you indulge your li'l sweetheart with these complicated things.
    That's a mother's love.

  9. Morning Zoe...

    Mmmm, I just had curry puffs yesterday, and as you know, I love mine with extra extra fillings and lesser crust if possible. But I can see that your crust is those that really melts in the mouth... Seriously loved to grab a bite of your curry puffs.. ^^

  10. I think this looks amazing! I've never seen such a lovely crust, Zoe ❤ ❤

  11. Your curry puffs look absolutely delicious, better than the ones in any Indian or Thai restaurants :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. Zoe, you are tempting me again with curry puffs! So hungry now :D

  13. Zoe, you are start a shop now. yummy!

  14. Zoe...your curry puffs looked yummy to me..

  15. Hi Zoe,
    Your curry puffs looks yummy! Pass some over please!
    I could eat a few in one sitting! :)

  16. You are so good in making curry puffs Zoe! I am health conscious too but comes curry puff, I find hard to resist..forget about the calories! >.<

  17. As I promised, direcltly from Italy, here I am!

    I found your blog simply amazing, I wish I could have one of this incredible puffs!

    Thanks for joining my blog, I did the same as I like to improve myself trying new recipes and also practise my English (so, please, forget my mistakes :P ) :))

    Have a nice day! A big hug :)


  18. I don't know about you Zoe but all I see here are successful flaky puffs oozing with yumminess!!! Many moons ago, when I did bake, the only shortening I ever used for pastry was Crisco. Back then it wasn't as "healthy" as it is now. I even used it for pie crust! Now of course, I bake very little. I give you lots of credit for pleasing your son and your family, Zoe. That's what Mom's do with lots of love:)

    Thanks for sharing, Zoe...

  19. I love the curry puffs i get for dim sum. They don't look quite like this, but I would love to give these a try. Thanks, Zoe!

  20. Hi Zoe , I tried your spiral pastry curry puff pastry and the pastry was delicious !! Cant wait to try this one :)

  21. Wow, this is such a nice blog! Your curry puffs look so attractive!

  22. These look soooo yummy! I can just imagine biting into them now....drool!

  23. We use Crisco too, when we want a shortening like this. Great curry puffs! With or without curry. ;-)

  24. Zoe, as usual, you performed magic! I don't think I'd ever dare try make these. Well, unless we move to Perth, and it is winter time, and I really miss home... I am book marking this recipe for sure!

  25. Your curry puffs made my mouth water!

  26. Hi Zoe,
    I live in Melbourne too. Apparently shortening is not available here. Where did you get yours? Is copha similar to shortening? Thanks

    1. Hi Angel,

      Copha is also vegetable shortening but it is NOT the same as the one that I have used which softer to used in room temperature.

      You can buy the Crisco shortening via ebay or at an online shop called USA food located at Moorabbin. Cheers!


  27. Hi, can I ask if the shortening pastry can be baked instead of fried? I'm trying to cut down on the amount of frying in our kitchen.

    1. Hi,

      I see your point about cutting down deep frying of the food that we cook and eat at home. I felt the same too but for the case of curry puff, I would say that deep fried curry puffs are still the best. Can't deny this fact.

      For this reason, I have not tried baking curry puff at all but if you like to try baking this pastry, please do it. I reckon the pastry will turn out to be ok but of course they won't be as not melty and fluffy as the fried ones.