Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Karipap Ayam--Chicken Curry Puffs

My family has long enjoyed curry puffs as a special treat with cocktails and I had originally thought about including these curry puffs in our New Year's celebration.  Fortunately, I sometimes come to my senses.  These curry puffs are very rich and would have been too much with all the other food we had that night.  They are, however, great with cocktails.  These, a cocktail or two, some gỏi gà and you're set for an evening meal.

These spiral curry puffs originated in Malaysia.  They consist of a Chinese flaky pastry dough with an Indian/Malaysian curry filling.  They look impressive with their spiral layers, and they are not particularly difficult to make.  They are fried though, and that is probably the main reason I won't be making them more often.  While they should certainly be able to be baked (the dough is essentially the same as that used for char siu so bang), I don't know if the spiral effect would be as pronounced.
Frying them produced a very flaky, crispy shell that was not oily at all.

I made these following the recipe in Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings. The filling was improvised from boneless, skinless chicken thighs, shallots, potatoes, Madras curry powder and curry paste, and a little coconut milk.  You want something that stands up to the richness of the pastry, that is not overpowered by it.  I served them with a cilantro chutney, tinkering slightly with the recipe Nguyen includes in her book.  Her instructions on how to braid the seal of the puffs were very easy to follow, and even I, with short, pudgy fingers, was able to produce an attractive braid.

The recipe for the dough can be found on my post for char siu so bang. The difference is that instead of rolling the final sheet out to a square, you want a rectangle.  You then roll the rectangle jelly-roll fashion into a log.  You slice the log to get circles of dough which you then roll out to somewhere between 1/8" and 1/4" thickness.  Fill each circle with several teaspoons of your filling, fold and seal.  Fry the puffs in oil around 340º to 350º F until golden brown.  (Nguyen recommends starting them off at around 300º for the first two minutes and then raising the temperature to 350º.  I found there wasn't that much difference keeping them in the higher range the whole time.)  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  They will stay crisp for at least a day.

The water dough is on the left, oil dough on the right.

The water dough encasing the oil dough.

Slices from the rolled log of dough ready to be rolled to form the puffs.

The rolled puff with some filling.

The first batch I made I failed to braid the edges as attractively as I would have liked.  I then did what teachers tell their students to do--I read the instructions on how to make a nice braid.  In the second batch the braid was much more professional looking, but I forgot to get a picture.  

I enjoyed the cilantro chutney with the puffs, but they are also excellent without any accompaniment, save perhaps for a gin and tonic, mojito, beer, or even a martini.

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