malay curry puffs

malay curry puffs
It was the last gasp of summer and I made my favourite childhood treat, the curry puff, for a drinks party in the garden. I haven't made them in a while and since my pastry-handling skills are not the best, it seemed like a good idea to get in practice . . . Christmas is on the horizon and these are perfect party nibbles.

As a child growing up in Malaysia, one of my favourite things to eat was a curry puff. It is a simple but delicious pleasure and a great shame that these are not more widely known in this country. Essentially they are very similar to an Indian samosa but instead of using filo pastry they are made with puff pastry, reflecting Malaysia's colonial past. Some believe this is a result of English influences and the cult of afternoon tea, others believe it started earlier with the Portuguese. And I do have to admit that curry puffs are quite like empanadas. But no matter. Curry puffs are delicious, wherever they come from

My childhood tastes were firmly on the side of savoury and the combination of curried potatoes, peas (heaven) in a golden puff pastry case is the thing of treasured memories. It was often hard to tell who liked these delicious morsels more, me or Jason. When our amah, Sieu Yong, called out makanan siap ("food's ready!) we would both rush towards the kitchen, skidding on the cool marble floors, in our eagerness to get there first. To be fair, Jason usually won; largely because he had four legs rather than two. Jason was a rather eccentric Afghan hound with peculiar taste in food; more of him another time!

Makes about 20 to 24 small puffs
Skill level: Medium

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 knob x butter
1 x English onion, finely chopped
2-3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tsp garam masala or a good quality curry powder (I used Shan's Karahi Fry Ghosht which has quite a kick. Seasoned Pioneers' Malay Curry Powder is pretty good too)
a pinch of chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tsp tamarind paste or 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
250g cooked potato, diced
150g fresh or frozen peas
100ml water or chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
ready-made puff pastry
1 x egg yolk whisked with 1 tsp milk (to glaze)


  1. Firstly dry fry or toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant, then set aside.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil and add butter. Gently fry the onion until softened (about 10 minutes)
  3. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the coriander, cumin, curry powder and chilli. Stir well to ensure that these ingredients are all well coated with the spice paste
  5. Add the tamarind paste or lemon juice, then the potatoes. Stir well to coat.
  6. Stir in the water or stock and bring to a gentle boil.
  7. Simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the mixture has become quite dry.
  8. Check the seasoning and then stir in the peas. Set aside to cool.
  9. Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas Mark 5.
  10. Lightly flour a baking tray.
  11. On a large floured board, roll out the puff pastry (about one sixteenth of an inch thick).
  12. Use a biscuit cutter or small bowl to cut out the shapes of the pastry. Make sure that these circles are as close together as possible, so that you don't waste any pastry.
  13. Depending on how big the pastry circles are, place about 1 teaspoon (or more) of filling on the lower half of each pastry circle. At this stage you will realise why it is a very good idea to make sure that all your ingredients were finely chopped as it makes it much easier to fold the curry puffs!
  14. Fold the other half of the pastry over to form a half circle.
  15. Press the edges down and crimp (with a fork) to seal.
  16. Place the curry puffs on a large baking sheet. Set them far enough apart to allow them to spread and rise in the oven.
  17. Brush with a little of the egg wash.
  18. Bake in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden.
  19. Serve immediately!


  • While these are delicious warm they are also quite nice cold. Great for parties and picnics.
  • Place a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven and fill with boiling water, while the oven is preheating. Some people think that the steam released while the puffs are baking improves the texture of the pastry - puffy, crisp and flaky. You decide!


Claire said...

These sound absolutely delicious. You had me at 'puff pastry'! c

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Claire - I agree! There is something about puff pastry (along with crumble topping) which just makes me want to eat it on it's own!