Deep-fried, crispy and flaky are attributes of a good curry puff. That is, until you sink your teeth into a Eurasian
Pattie curry puff, a golden baked pastry with an aromatic chicken curry stuffing cocooned inside crumbly pineapple tart crust.
Few curry puff aficionados, however, would have had a chance to savour it because it is not commonly sold in bakeries.
For Madam Mary Gomes, chef-owner of Eurasian eatery Mary's Kafe in Waterloo Street, this is a big pity.
'It was a tea-time favourite of mine growing up,' says the 59-year-old who sells it at her cafe when she receives special orders for it.
While she is uncertain about its origins, she believes a pineapple tart crust is used because the tarts are a popular Eurasian snack.
She has decided to share the recipe for this unique curry puff with LifeStyle readers.
She says: 'Eurasian recipes are like family heirlooms, fiercely guarded from outsiders. But I don't mind giving out my recipe because I believe good things should be shared.'
Indeed, sharing good food was how she made her name in the Eurasian culinary scene here.
A member of St Joseph's Church in Victoria Street - she was baptised and married there - she decided to revive the church canteen in the mid-1990s, which had stopped for some time.
'I wanted to bring back the spirit of charity and provide a place where people can gather for fellowship. Also, I love cooking,' says Madam Gomes, who was a bank administrative executive at the time.
She roped in two cousins and together, they would cook Sunday brunch for 50 to 60 people. Both parishioners and outsiders were welcome to dine at the canteen for just $2, which would get them a plate of Eurasian delights such as beef curry, curry debal (a spicy chicken curry) or feng, a non-spicy pork curry.
It was during this time that Mr Patrick Mowe, director of the Institute of Advertising Singapore, a professional organisation for marketing communications, heard about her delicious beef curry.
He tried it and liked it so much that he persuaded her to get in touch with a publishing friend of his and put out a cookbook of her mouth-watering delights.
The Eurasian Cookbook was published in 2001, the first Eurasian recipe book by a Singaporean. Currently in its third print, the recipes in the book are passed down from Madam Gomes' Malacca-born Eurasian mother.
She says: 'I had a keen interest in cooking from young and my mother encouraged it by letting me help in the kitchen.'
Her housewife mother never wrote down her recipes, so Madam Gomes, the youngest of three daughters, had to learn them by watching her mother cook.
After she was retrenched from her job in 2001, she took up cooking full-time as a freelance cook and caterer.
Last year, she published a second cookbook, Mary's Kitchen, which includes recipes for dishes such as streaky pork chilli garam, mini murtabak and Nonya rice dumplings.
Her Teochew husband is the general manager of a warehouse and she has two grown-up children.
While she no longer cooks at the church canteen, having passed the baton on to other members, those hungry for authentic Eurasian food can pop by her year-old cafe in the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations Centre.
She says: 'My business is more an extension of my passion for cooking. There's nothing I enjoy more than making people happy with food.'
Eurasian Pattie Curry Puff
MAKE THE PASTRY
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter at room temp
3 Tbs ice water
1 egg yolk
1. Place flour in a mixing bowl, add salt and mix well. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour.
2. Add water and egg yolk, mix to form a dough.
3. Place the dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.
MAKE THE STUFFING
250g chicken breast 1 to 2 tsp oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 to 2 tsp curry powder
Mixed peas (optional)
1. Wash and peel the potatoes, dice into small cubes. Steam for 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. Poach the chicken in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water and cut the chicken into small pieces.
3. Heat oil in a pan, fry the onions and garlic until the onions are wilted.
4. Add the chicken, potatoes, salt and sugar and fry for a minute. Add the curry powder and continue frying until the mixture is fragrant. Leave stuffing to cool.
ASSEMBLING AND BAKING
1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
2. Roll the dough out to about 0.5cm thick. Use a circular pastry cutter to cut small circles of dough with a diameter of about 7cm.
3. Remove a piece of cut dough. Press around the circumference to thin out the dough along the edges. Place some filling in the centre of the dough. Place another piece of dough over to encase the filling.
4. Use a dough pincer, the kind used for pineapple tarts, to flute the edges. Repeat for the other curry puffs.
5. Place the shaped curry puffs on a baking tray and brush an egg wash made with 1 beaten egg over them.
6. Bake the curry puffs for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown.
Makes 30 to 35 curry puffs.
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