“Idah, bangun nak“, mum gently shook me awake. It was 1985 and I was eleven. It was almost six in the morning. Most of the kids my age would still be in their beds an hour or two longer. Slowly, I made my way to the bathroom to take a shower. The icy water completely washed away any stubborn sleepiness and harshly jolted me back to life. Back then we were living in a one room rental flat, never mind hot water, we are thankful we got a roof over our heads.
After a cold shower, I got dressed, ate a few pieces of cream biscuits with a mug of warm black coffee. It was all we could afford for breakfast but I was thankful, it could have been nothing at all.
Once I finished breakfast, I made my way to the door and put on my shoes. Mum would check a basket filled with assortment of goodies to sell. She counted the packets of rice, noodles and cakes, then reminded me to be careful as she handed me the basket.
Before leaving the house, I kissed her hand, gave her a salam and went on my way with the basket to sell the goodies around the neighborhood. This was my usual routine, I had to do it because life was hard and the only way to survive was to help my mum sell what she made.
My mum was a
good great cook, she was trained at a very early age, at a tender age of nine. Then, in the early 1940s-50s, school education was not necessary for a girl (well at least for the Malay community I was told). It was more important to know how to cook and clean by the time she is ready to be married at an age no older than seventeen or eighteen or maybe younger? I swear my mum could have been a somebody had she got a proper education.
I continued with this routine for a couple more years before or after school. During that time, my mum baked and cooked to sell, She even took orders to sew clothes and worked part-time as a maid. My sisters and I were her delivery and sales girls.
At home, we made bandung-, pineapple- or asam masin-flavored air batu (flavored ice) to sell to the kids in the neighborhood at five or ten cents a piece or we could be helping mum seal packets of kerepek with sambal (fried tapioca with sweet and spicy chilli). We seal the contents in the packet by running the folded plastic over a candle flame.
These memories are still fresh in my mind and I reminisce whenever I want to cook any of the food we used to sell. Today I will share with you the curry puffs recipe. It is also called by other names like karipap or epok-epok in Malay. Below are ingredients you will need.
Ingredients for the filling:
(This makes like 30 pieces of curry puffs depending on the size of the mold you are using)
- 300 grams minced beef, optional (back then there we could not afford to buy meat)
- 3 big onions, diced
- 4-5 stalks of parsley and spring onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of curry powder
- 3-4 cloves of star anise
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 2-3 potatoes, diced (more if you are not adding meat)
- 4-5 tablespoons of cooking oil for frying (less if you do not want to much oil, at your discretion)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
- Salt and Seasoning to taste (seasoning can be MSG)
- 2-3 cups of water
- (a) 4 shallots, peeled and grounded
- (b) 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and grounded
- (c) 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grounded
- Heat the oil in the wok. Stir-fry ingredients (a)-(c), cinnamon, and star anise and mix well.
- Add in the water, little at a time and until the ingredients in the wok are cooked.
- Next, add in the meat, potatoes and onions into the wok and mix well. Then add in the garam masala and curry powder and mix well again.
- Make sure there are enough liquid in the wok to cook the meat and potatoes. If enough liquid, cover the wok or pan and cook till the potatoes are soft, otherwise add more water. You may need to mix or stir the the potatoes a couple of times so that the potatoes are cooked evenly and that the potatoes do not burn if you don’t have enough water in the wok or pan.
- Once the meat and potatoes are cooked, add in the salt, sugar, seasoning, parsley and spring onions and cook for a few more minutes. The filling should not be wet, the liquid should have evaporated once the filling are cooked.
Ingredients for the curry puff skin:
- 3 cups of plain flour
- 1/2 cup of water
- 5-6 tablespoons of butter or margarine or clarified butter (ghee). I used clarified butter because I have some leftovers.
- In a bowl, add the water and clarified butter little at a time, to the flour and salt until you get a dough-like firmness.
- Divide the dough into small balls and flatten them using a rolling pin to about less than 1/2 a centimeter in thickness.
- To make the curry puff you need the curry puff mold (see above picture) but you can also make it manually like how you make ravioli, just slightly bigger? Anyway, roll the dough to the size of the mold.
- Place the flattened dough over the mold and at the center of the dough, spoon in the filling.
- Close the mold and it will press the ends of the dough together and sealing its contents.
- Remove the extra dough from the mold and set aside the curry puff.
- Once you have used up the dough to make the curry puffs, you are ready to deep fry the curry puffs. When deep frying the curry puffs, remove it once the skin has turned slightly golden brown.
It’s a pretty long process but I hope you can give it a try. Tell me how it went, better yet, improve on it and share so that others can benefit 🙂