If you say the word karipap aloud, you might be able to figure out what it means. That’s right, curry puff. This is a classic example of food with Indian and Portuguese influences that has become a staple part of the Malaysian cuisine. In Indonesia, the guys on the street selling fried things (gorengan) usually have bananas, tempe, tofu, and sweet potato. In Malaysia, the gorengan sellers have bananas, sweet potato, taro, and karipap, and sometimes other unidentifiable–but tasty–treats.
Basically, a karipap has dough that is not unlike a pie crust, wrapped around a curried potato mixture, and deep fried to deliciousness. When cooking, be sure to work quickly. After stuffing the curry puffs and folding them, fry them as soon as possible rather than waiting. If you wait, they are liable to become unstuck when you fry them. Here’s a picture of a gorengan stall, and here’s a picture of our own efforts.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 T water
1 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic
2 inches ginger, peeled
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, toasted
2 cinnamon sticks
1 heaping Tbsp. meat curry powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. palm sugar
1/4 cup water
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
oil for deep frying
First, make the filling. In a blender or food processor (or with your trusty mortar and pestle), grind the fennel seeds into a coarse powder. Add the onions, garlic, shallots, and ginger, and process into a smooth paste, adding a bit of oil if necessary. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat, and then add the cinnamon sticks. Cook until they are very fragrant, about 1-2 minutes, and then add the paste. Saute gently, making sure that the mixture does not brown, for about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and saute for three minutes more until the mixture is very fragrant. Add the salt, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture is very dry, about 20-30 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry before the potatoes are very soft, add a bit more water. When done, let the filling cool.
While the filling is cooking, make the dough. Combine the flour, salt, and oil to make a mixture like bread crumbs. Beat the egg together with water and add to the dry ingredients, mixing constantly to form a dough not unlike something for a pie crust. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes to make sure it is very smooth, and then cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Heat a skillet or wok with about 3 inches of oil in it over low heat until quite hot. Divide the dough in half and roll very thin. Using an overturned bowl or a cookie cutter, cut out circles in the dough with a diameter of three inches. Place one teaspoon of filling in the middle, rub a bit of water over the edge of the circle, and fold over to form a half moon. Crimp the edges to make it look pretty. You can re-roll the scraps to make additional puffs. Gently lower the curry puff into the hot oil and deep fry just until it reaches a dark golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels before serving.