4.75 from 8 votes
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Deep-fried Chicken Curry Puffs

These deep-fried, fragrant curry puffs have a crispy, flaky, buttery crust, and are stuffed with curried chicken, potatoes and cooked egg, making these delicious finger food, tea time treats, and snacks to satisfy any craving!
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack, Snacks and Treats
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Servings :9 large puffs
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs
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INGREDIENTS

For the curry filling:

  • 150 g chicken breast, without skin
  • 150 g potatoes, peeled
  • 135 g yellow onion, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp meat curry powder
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 plus 1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup water, more/less as needed
  • 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled (optional)

For the pastry dough:

  • 330 g plain flour
  • 18 g rice flour
  • 3/4 tsp corn flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 8 g salt
  • 20 g sugar
  • 8 g egg yolk (no typo here, it is EIGHT g only)
  • 114 g water
  • 128 g unsalted butter, cold
  • 20 g shortening (I use Crisco)

INSTRUCTIONS

To cook the filling:

  • Dice chicken meat and potatoes into 1-cm cubes. Season chicken with 1/2 tbsp of the curry powder and 1/4 tsp of the salt. Finely chop onions, garlic and curry leaves. Meanwhile, slice hard-boiled eggs into 6 wedges each.
  • Heat up 3 tbsp oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. When hot, fry onion until softened. Add chopped garlic, curry leaves, and remaining 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder, and continue to stir fry until fragrant. Add potatoes, fry for 1 min to mix well. Pour in water, and let simmer until potatoes are almost soft, and mixture is almost dry. If the mixture gets dry before potatoes are soft enough, add 1 to 2 tbsp water to prevent drying out, as and when needed. Add chicken, continue to stir fry until cooked. Season with remaining 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp sugar, or to taste (note: the curry stuffing will be more flavourful if it is just a little saltish, but suited to your taste). Once mixture is dry, dish out and allow to cool completely.

To make the pastry dough:

  • Sift plain flour, rice flour, corn flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Grate (or dice) cold butter over the flour mixture. Add shortening. Using your fingers, gently rub into the flour mixture, until it becomes sandy and resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Dissolve salt and sugar in water. Add egg yolk and stir till well mixed. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, pour in the water mixture. Mix in with your fingers until the dough comes together (it will be quite sticky at first), picking up all the loose flour until the sides of the bowl comes clean. Do NOT knead or overwork the dough.
  • Cover dough with a damp tea cloth. Let dough rest and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. It should be cool but soft enough for handling. Meanwhile, line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • Cut dough into half. Keep one half covered and return to the chiller. Roll out dough half between two sheets of baking paper to 3-mm thickness. Cut out 11-cm/4.5-inch rounds for large puffs (or 9-cm/3.5-inch rounds for smaller puffs). Place an egg wedge in the centre (if using), and spoon 1 heaped tbsp of stuffing (or 2 heaped tsps for smaller puffs) over the egg. Enclose the filling by bringing the top and bottom halves of the pastry over the stuffing to meet in the centre. Seal by pressing and fluting the edges. Space puffs slightly apart on prepared tray. Gather remaining pastry dough into a ball and re-roll, cut, fill, seal and flute.
  • Repeat with the other dough half, until all pastry is used up. Once done, place the tray with the puffs in the chiller, while you prepare and heat up the oil for frying.
  • Fill up a fairly deep medium-sized pot or skillet with enough oil to submerge the puffs, or to a depth of 3-cm/1 1/2 inches (for safe frying, the pot used should be deep enough to leave 1 1/2 - 2 inches above the oil level). Heat oil over low-medium heat to a temperature between 170°C to 180°C (350°F to 360°F). Fry 3 to 4 curry puffs at a time, turning over occasionally to get even browning, for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Do NOT allow oil to get too hot (over 185°C), reduce the heat/fire as and when necessary. Drain fried curry puffs on a metal strainer placed over paper towels. Best eaten warm on the same day. (CAUTION! Hot oil may sometimes foam up during the frying process with subsequent batch frying, due possibly, to reaction between hot oil, water content and baking powder. Exercise caution by using deep frying pot, put puffs into the hot oil one at a time, allowing 15-20 seconds to lapse in between.)

NOTES

Tip #1 : Slice or dice chicken and potato into regular-shaped cubes no bigger than 1-cm. It will be easier to fill and seal, and to shape uniformly. But you CAN have it chunky, if you like your filling with extra bite!
Tip #2 (optional): If you like your filling a little mushy, as I do, or not too dry, once the potatoes are softened, and before adding the meat, mash half of them with a fork or potato masher. The semi-mashed potatoes will hold the chicken chunks together, making the filling more moist and compact.
Tip #3: Do note that for the curry spices, chicken and potato flavours to marry well and come through, it should be seasoned with enough salt to accentuate the flavours. Sugar helps to blunt any bitterness in the curry spices, and balance flavours. Obviously, you add only as much salt or sugar as is comfortable, to your taste.
Tip #4: To ensure a tender pastry crumb, mix just enough with your fingers, to get a fairly smooth dough, picking up the loose flour until the sides of the bowl come clean. Do NOT knead.
Tip #5: Grate cold butter (right out of the chiller) into the flour mixture with a vegetable peeler. It will incorporate more quickly and evenly, and keep the dough temperature cool.
Tip #6: Keep unused pastry dough, as well as filled pastries as cold as possible by chilling in the refrigerator as you make these. This is to prevent the butter from melting into the flour, so that it can instantly make steam when it comes into contact with hot oil during the frying process, which makes for a light and flaky crumb.
Tip #7: If you don't have the right-sized cookie cutter, you can improvise using empty (but clean!) cans, or with plastic/metallic caps of jars or containers, to cut into the pastry. Alternatively, the pastry can be rolled into a long sausage, and cut or divided into 6 (large) /8 (smaller) equal portions. Round each into a ball, then roll out into rounds.
Tip #8: If the cut rounds shrink a fair bit, you can roll over lightly, but keep the shape round or slightly oval.
Tip #9: I find that an optimal thickness for the pastry shell is 0.3 mm, for a crispy, crumbly crust. If the pastry is rolled too thin, it may also be prone to tearing when you try to fill or shape the puff. If that happens, simply tear a bit of leftover dough (dough left over after cutting out the rounds) and patch the tear. If you enjoy thicker pastry crusts, be sure to fry long enough at the optimal temperature to ensure the dough is cooked through (see Tip #11).
Tip #10: When pressing and sealing the edges, do not press the edges too thin, and make sure you have at least 1-cm border all around. This will allow you enough pastry at the edges to create the fluted pattern.
Tip #11: Frying is such an essential finishing step to getting golden brown, crispy, flaky puffs, but often under emphasised. I have found that an ideal oil temperature range for frying this pastry to ensure even and perfect browning is between 170℃ to 180℃. Fry in small batches, 3 to 4, to ensure the temperature stays in the optimal range. If the oil is too hot, the pastry may brown unevenly, cook too quickly or risk burning the surface before the dough layer inside has had enough time to cook through. If the oil is not hot enough, the pastry may absorb too much oil, and may become and taste overly greasy.
Tip #12: CAUTION! Hot oil may sometimes foam up during the frying process with subsequent batch frying, due possibly, to reaction between hot oil, water content and baking powder. Exercise caution by using deep frying pot, put puffs into the hot oil one at a time, allowing 15-20 seconds to lapse in between. 
Storing and Re-heating Cooked/Fried Curry Puffs:
#1. Fried curry puffs should be allowed to cool to room temperature before storing. Always store in sealed, air-tight containers. Keep chilled in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
#2. To reheat, heat up an oven to 175°C (or use 'warm' setting on your oven if available), and place puffs on a heat-proof pan or plate. Heat for 10 to 12 mins, or until the pastry crisps up. To avoid over-browning the puffs, you can place a sheet of aluminium foil over the puffs. If using a counter-top toaster oven, depending on your toaster settings, re-heat for 8 to 10 mins, covered with aluminium foil. Remove from toaster or oven, and let stand for 5 minutes to allow pastry to crisp up.
Making Ahead, Storing and/or Freezing Filling and Pastry Dough:
#1. The curry filling can be cooked in advance and kept chilled for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to a month. Chill extra or left-over filling in air-tight glass containers (curry tends to stain plastic containers), or store in well-sealed freezer bags if storing in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge a day ahead of when you intend to use it.
#2. The pastry dough can be made in advance and stored in well-sealed bags. Wrap the pastry dough tightly with two layers of cling wrap, keep in a well-sealed freezer bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. On the day you intend to make the puffs, remove from the refrigerator and allow it to soften at room temperature, in the bag. You only need it to be soft enough, but still cool, to handle easily for rolling, cutting, shaping, etc.
#3. Alternatively, you may roll out the pastry, cut and stuff the curry puffs and freeze these ready-made puffs in well-sealed freezer bags. When ready to cook, remove from the freezer, no need to thaw. When frying frozen puffs, heat oil to 180°C (360°F), and maintain oil at this temperature for frying remaining frozen puffs.
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