Curry puffs

Curry puffs

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

After rummaging through a fresh food market in Xiamen, truly one of the most enjoyable Chinese cities (and one with some remarkable food), we happened upon a street vendor frying curry puffs in a vat of oil. His pastries were the most beautiful study in crisp, delicate, puffy layers and perfect pleating — they looked way too good to eat. We demolished quite a few, waddled around the streets in a vain effort to walk them off, then simply turned around and went back for more. Ours are easier to make than his, but just as addictive.



Quantity Ingredient
1 small orange sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 teaspoons ginger, finely chopped
500g minced beef
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, for deep-frying


Quantity Ingredient
400g plain flour
100ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil


  1. To make the filling, cook the sweet potato in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, or until tender, then drain well and mash.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes, or until the onion has softened slightly. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat, for 4–5 minutes, or until the meat has changed colour. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant, then add the soy sauce and sugar and stir to combine well. Remove from the heat, stir in the sweet potato and coriander, season to taste with sea salt and pepper, then cool to room temperature.
  3. To make the pastry, put the flour in a large bowl, then add the vegetable and sesame oils. Using your fingers, mix the oil through the flour. Add 200 ml warm water to the flour mixture, then stir using a flat-bladed knife to bring the dough together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
  4. Cut the dough into two even pieces. Use your hands to roll one piece into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out the other piece on a lightly floured surface into a 35 cm circle. Place the ball of dough in the middle of the circle of dough and bring the edges of the circle up to cover the ball, pinching to seal. Turn the ball over so the seam side is down. Loosely cover with a damp tea towel and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough out until it is about 3 mm thick. Using a 10 cm biscuit cutter, cut out circles from the dough, reserving the scraps. Working with one round at a time, place about 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato filling in the middle of the round and lightly brush around the edge with water. Fold the pastry over to form a semicircle, then use your fingers to crimp the edges. Repeat with the remaining filling and dough, rerolling the scraps to use as well.
  6. Fill a wok one-third full of oil and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns deep golden in 15 seconds. Cook the pastries in batches for 4–5 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Drain well on paper towel and serve hot or at room temperature.
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