The Crispy Curry Puff: A Southeast Asian Snack

Many different people of various races and ethnicities populate Southeast Asia. As part of that colonisation, European settlers, brought in workers from their overseas colonies to work in their mines and plantations. Eventually, some of the workers settled down locally, marrying the local natives or even bringing in wives from their homelands. The migrating workers brought along their own food dishes as this would remind them of their homes. This resulted in the local region becoming a melting pot of cuisine, with European, Malay, Chinese and Indian influences. An example of this is the ang-ku kuih, a finger food which originated from China. In this article, we will talk about the different versions of the curry puff.

The curry puff is a popular Southeast Asian pastry.
The curry puff is a popular Southeast Asian pastry.
Source: Image from Wikimedia

The Origin Of The Curry Puff

Early into the 15th century, the Portuguese colonised Malacca. Over time, the locals and European cultures mixed, which is why we have many kuihs that originated from Malacca today. The origin of the curry puff is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the Malay Peninsula. This is because of its similarities to the Spanish/Portuguese pastry, the empanada. Today, you can find several different versions in many Southeast Asian countries. People enjoy curry puffs throughout Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand

The Yummy Details…

The curry puff consists of a nice, baked or deep-fried pastry crust and a savoury, curry-based filling, which may vary, depending on what ingredients you use. Recipes can vary, depending on the many different cultures which have developed their own versions over time.

The fillings of a curry puff may vary, but still be scrumptious!
The fillings of a curry puff may vary, but still be scrumptious!
Source: Image by Wikimedia

The Savoury Filling

First, the filling needs to be prepared, and here, you can mix it up. There are many different versions of the curry puff, hence the name “curry” puff, so you can pretty much put whatever vegetables or meat you want. In Malaysia, people would normally use vegetables such as potatoes, onions, radish, and carrot with curry powder, and small pieces of boiled egg, for the filling. Meat, usually chicken or sardine, is also added in, unless you want a vegetarian curry puff. The curry puff can be spicy if you put enough curry powder or chili peppers. Some add special sauces, and garlic and ginger for extra oomph! In central Thailand, people substitute durian paste for their filling, which can be quite delectable for those who enjoy durian. The curry filling has a thick consistency and is filled with chunks of the other assorted ingredients.

The Pastry Crust

After that, knead wheat flour, water, and butter together to form the dough. A ready-made pie crust will work too. After rolling the dough into little circles, scoop the filling into the centre of the dough and fold it in half. Gently press the edges and fold them in to make the iconic ridged pattern. The finished curry puff is then deep fried until golden brown in colour. Voila! Some people prefer a thick, chewy crust, while others prefer a thin, flaky crust. Personally, I like the flaky crust because it is crispier

Here’s an easy tutorial if you want to make your own curry puffs!

Variations Of The Curry Puff

Malaysia’s Curry Puff

Also known as the karipap, curry puffs in Malaysia normally have meat and shredded vegetables inside. You can find them freshly fried at Indian, Malay, and Chinese stalls and trendy cafés. The epok-epok, a variant of the curry puff, is often mistaken for the curry puff itself. The difference is in the texture of the crust. Curry puff crusts are smooth and may have layers of skin on them, while epok-epok crusts have a rougher texture. Curry puffs are also larger in size and have a more buttery crust. However, both are equally delicious.

The Indonesian Pastel

Indonesians call their version of the curry puff a pastel, derived from the Portuguese influence in Indonesia. It refers to a pie of crust made from thin pastry, filled with meat, mixed with vegetables, rice vermicelli, and sometimes egg, then deep fried in vegetable oil. Commonly sold at Indonesian markets, this pastry makes a delicious snack.

Curry Puffs in Singapore

In Singapore, they have many curry puff brands that sell authentic curry puffs. In addition to that, they have unique fillings in their puff pastries, such as yam, durian, corn, red bean, nata de coco, grass jelly, bird’s nest, and custard fillings. Yes, these puffs contain very creative ingredients.

So Where Can I Find Curry Puffs?

I usually buy curry puffs from the morning market near my house.
I usually buy curry puffs from the morning market near my house.
Source: Image by Author

You can, in fact, find curry puffs all over Southeast Asia! Curry puffs are sold fresh at night markets, food stalls, and restaurants. If you’ve ever visited Malaysia, then you’ll know that curry puffs can be found almost everywhere.

What’s more, manufacturers have developed frozen curry puffs that can be reheated for instant consumption. In fact, Sydney Cake House, Malaysia’s leading Halal Baking Manufacturer, produces frozen curry puffs under the Mak’Cik brand. They also supply their amazing curry puffs to many airlines and hotels. Other than Malaysia, they also cater to markets in Southeast Asia, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Europe.

Regardless any time of the day, these crispy curry puffs will definitely make a great snack!

About Hazel LING

Friendly, quirky, and a total whiz with words, Hazel is definitely ahead of the rest of her peers when it comes to reading and writing.

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