Curry puffs are one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets.  Other than of course to the locals, who are no fools and know these are one of most delicious snacks to be had all over the island and devoured mostly on the go.  I had my first curry puff encounter at Singapore’s Newton Circus, one of the most famous and sought after outdoor food courts in Singapore.  It has been there since 1971 and underwent a major revamp in 2005.

I loved to go to Newton Circus, especially in the wee hours of the morning, when my friends and I would stay out late and invariably end up eating curry puffs and noddle bowls of Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee and sharing an enormous bucket of Chinese chicken wings.

Ok circling back to the curry puff.  It’s a small empanada-like pastry with the filling consisting of curry flavored ingredients.  For the most part the pastry used is short crust and other places use phyllo.  The offerings can come vegetarian, filled with meat, baked or deep fried.  The filling typically is quite thick, to prevent it from oozing out when you bite into this pillow of deliciousness! It is native to South East Asia and there are many exemplary varieties, as they are also an ever popular staple of many local Indian bakeries.



Short crust Pastry – home-made (recipe below), store bought or Phyllo pastry

1 medium onion – chopped very finely

1 ½ TSPS of garlic/ginger paste

3 medium potatoes – peeled and diced small

1 TSP sugar

3 TBSP vegetable oil

½ cup of frozen peas – defrosted

½ cup of carrots diced very small

½ TSP of cumin

1 LB of ground sirloin or a mix of sirloin and ground pork

½ TSP of coriander

½ TSP of Garam Masala

1 TSP Madras curry powder

½ cup of fresh chopped cilantro

1 Cup of water or chicken stock

Salt and fresh ground pepper

In a skillet, heat up the oil and add the onions, sauté for about 5 minutes and add the garlic/ginger paste with the curry powder, cumin, coriander and Garam Masala (if you want it quite spicy add some red pepper flakes or 1 chopped red chili).  Sauté for about 5 minutes to allow the spices to toast, become aromatic and release all their flavors.  This is an important step, otherwise your spices will taste “raw” – you will know they are ready when the oil starts bleeding through around the edges.  Add the beef and brown well before adding the veggies, stock, salt and pepper.  Simmer till the veggies are tender and most of the water has evaporated and you have a very thick, like curry-paste – about 40 minutes.  Cool down completely before making the puffs.  (Please see blow with the short crust recipe)

Oven method:  Heat oven to 350F and place the puffs in a cookie sheet, brushing them with a little bit of melted butter and bake them till they are golden brown for about 20-25 minutes.

Skillet method: Heat up some oil in a skillet and cook the puffs till they are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.


1 cup of APF

½ TSP salt

1 Stick of unsalted butter- cut up into small cubes

3 TBSP chilled water

Place the APF and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the chilled butter and pulse the processor till the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Incorporate the water with the motor running until a ball of dough forms around the blade.  Your dough is done.  Remove and shape into a round disk, wrapping plastic wrap around it and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.  Roll out dough on a floured surface and make the curry puffs.  Cut round circles in the pastry, (I use a glass or a round biscuit cutter) place the filling in the middle of the circle and fold over in a half moon shape, crimping the edges with a fork like an empanada.

The same if you are using store bought pie pastry or phyllo.

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Pantry Rat