Seeing that ground beef is on sale this week, I asked hubby what he would like – curry puff (Malaysia’s version of empanada), pasty (the English version of empanada of which the recipe came from hubby’s grandmother), or Louisa’s Spaghetti Sauce (named after one of my closest friends because it’s her family’s recipe). Obviously, we know what hubby decided. :-) Frankly, I was never a great fan of curry puff back in Malaysia. The ones that you can find easily in the markets tend to be bland and obnoxiously greasy. So, why do I still occasionally crave them? The brain does like to be contrary! With no access to curry puffs (not even the “bad” ones) *grin*, I ended up having to make them myself. After some trial and error, I finally managed to come up with a simple, but rich and spicy filling to go along with the crispy, buttery crust that I came across in my friend’s cookbook eons ago. The result is a delicious, mouth-watering, savory pastry, hearty enough to be eaten in place of meals, yet light enough to snack on. The best part is that it’s baked – no more dealing with gallons of oil to fry these babies up. Enjoy!
2 heads garlic (about 2 – 2½ ounces EACH before trimming), peeled
1½-inch ginger (about 1½ ounces before trimming), peeled and cut into small chunks
1 large onion or several small onions (about 13 – 15 ounces total before trimming), peeled and cut into small chunks
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 packet Yeo’s Malaysian Curry Powder (1.76 ounces)
2 pounds ground beef (I use at least 85% lean)
1 pound Ore-Ida Southern Style Hash Browns (frozen potatoes)
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- Place garlic and ginger in the work bowl of food processor; process until finely minced. Add onion chunks and continue to process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down sides of bowl.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add processed mixture, cook, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then, add the curry powder and continue to cook for another minute or two. (You can see the pictures for step 1 and 2 in my Chicken Curry recipe).
- Add ground beef. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, breaking up chunks of meat, and making sure it is thoroughly coated with the curry paste.
- Once ground beef is fully cooked, add hash brown (do not thaw) and stir to distribute evenly. Turn off heat. Note: Hash browns/potatoes do not have to be fully cooked at this point as they will be cooked further in the pastry.
- Add salt to taste. Cool thoroughly before filling the pastry. Makes approximately 25 medium to large curry puffs.
If you plan to use up all the filling, you will need to TRIPLE the pastry recipe.
10 ounces all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter melted with 1 tablespoon water
A little extra butter for rubbing on the ball of dough
- Combine flour, salt, and butter-water combination and mix well, rubbing the butter into the flour.
- Slowly add water, about 6 tablespoons, gathering the flour together. Aim for a medium-soft dough.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes and make a ball. Rub with a little softened butter and put in a plastic bag.
- Set aside for 30 minutes or longer.
Personal note: I want to say that the pastry recipe came from The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon (for some reason, that name comes to mind) but I’m not completely certain as it has been more than 12 years since I wrote it down. I’ve always made the dough by hand but this time, I thought I would give my arm a break by using my KitchenAid mixer instead. The mixer did get the job done ultimately but you could hear it was straining quite a bit the whole time (it only has a 300-watt motor and the dough is pretty heavy). Also, the mixer bowl (4½-quart) wasn’t entirely big enough to handle the tripled recipe – the dough kept sticking out of the bowl as it was being kneaded. I think next time, I’ll just continue making the dough the old-fashioned way. For the first time also, I turned this recipe dairy-free by substituting Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (pictured below) for the butter. The curry puffs had a decent buttery taste but the pastry did not have the crispier texture throughout like you would get from using butter. Instead, it was more crisp-soft which is not bad either, just different. Overall, I thought it to be an acceptable change, and this way, I don’t have to pop lactaid pills every time I want to eat them. *grin* However, if I wasn’t lactose intolerant, I would stick with butter.
Make the curry puff
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 400ºF.
- Scoop out a portion of the dough using an ice-cream scoop (keep the rest of the dough covered so it won’t dry out).
- Shape the dough into a rough circle by flattening and stretching the dough as thinly as possible without tearing it.
- Place a heaping quarter cup of filling over half the dough (leaving a ½-inch margin on the edge), and fold the other half over it.
- Pinch the edges firmly together to seal. Then, pleat the edges (as shown above).
- Bake the curry puffs for 15-20 minutes, turn and continue to bake for another 8-10 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Transfer to a plate and serve hot/warm.