Man's mind consists of Dao-mind and human-mind, which are all given by God. Everything being perfect and perfect in Dao-mind, nothing needs to depend on outside oneself or search for anything. Dao-mind is like a mirror which reflects God's love and wisdom.
An excerpt from Confucianism and Meditation
Everything about the title of this dish sounds wrong, doesn't it? Let's see... savory + chocolate + curry + sweet potato. Conflicting yet harmonious. Despite the seeming clash of flavors, these curry puffs turned out well and tasted mmm.... slightly better than well ;-). Confusion or Confucianism, which is it really?
Anyway, I was inspired to come up with these spiral curry puffs recipe after reading this post on Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas by the lovely Victoria of Mission: Food, where nothing is impossible. Yes, correctly so, my dear. Empanadas in my neck of the woods are called curry puffs, because the filling is frequently made of curried meat or vegetables, or even both.
Sorry to disappoint, but here comes the disclaimer. The only chocolate you'll find in these flaky puffs are in the color of the pastry dough attributed to the cocoa powder I added to it. The spiral effect was made using two types of dough, oil dough and water dough. Their properties when cooked are different, thereby separating the doughs, lifting the spirals and making the pastry light and flaky. I've collated a series of photos below to show you how to create these pretty spirals. Even if you make the two types of dough in plain or the same color, the concentric circles will still be visible. How cool is that? I credit the Thais for popularizing this technique to make their curry puffs, and by golly, they do it extremely well!
My fillling, however, was my own invention and contained purple sweet potato (my favorite!), carrots and long beans picked from my mother's garden over the weekend. All these lovely ingredients were coated in a curry paste made from scratch. I must tell you that one of the loveliest smells on earth is the smell of freshly ground curry sizzling in a hot pan... it's like breathing in the air over at spice heaven. Mine was probably the easiest curry paste to make, just place all the spices in a grinder, press the 'on' button and voila! I only used 7 easily-available spices, it was a breeze really.
Ingredients for my curry paste
Vegetable filling. Colorful enough for you?
My mother has been trying to get me to make these spiral puffs for years, but my inner teenager has always resisted. What's wrong with the usual, non-spiral curry puffs anyway? It took me until today when I actually made these to realise that the years of culinary defiance are really pointless, and honestly, a great loss on my part. I really did enjoy the process of enveloping dough within dough, then rolling, turning and rolling the dough again to produce the unusual, swirling patterns on the crust. Although, I'm not sure what my mother would say about a chocolate curry puff... Ah well, that teenager will always be a part of me. ;-)
Okay, time for the taste test. Filling was incredible, thanks to the aromatic homemade curry. Crust bore no distinct chocolatey taste and was delightfully light and flaky, but I suppose if it was a bit more flaky, the puffs would've been even better. The water dough looked a tad too dry to me (damn that cocoa powder), so perhaps reducing the amount of cocoa used would improve the consistency. Yes, yes I know. I'm a cursed perfectionist. But I don't apologize for it if I can come up with bizarre yet delicious curry puffs as this!
Flaky and flakier!
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
100 ml vegetable oil
120ml water cold water
1 cup flour
80ml vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten lightly for glazing
1 onion chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
1small stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
5-6 cashew nuts
4 tablespoons of oil
1 cup tomato puree
300g purple sweet potato, peeled and diced
5 Chinese long beans, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
For the Filling:
Grind all the dry ingredients with the onion, garlic and ginger into a fine paste in a grinder. Heat a thick pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil, fry the paste on medium heat, stirring constantly until aromatic and the paste leaves the sides of the pan. Then add the tomato puree, mix and cook for a minute.
Add the sliced potatoes, carrot and long beans to the curry mixture. Simmer under low heat for about 15 minutes, until the liquid reduces and the vegetables are softened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Leave to cool completely before using this filling. You can also leave this overnight in the refrigerator for use the following day, the mixture will be thickened and easier to handle.
For the Pastry:
Place flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder and oil in a bowl and mix with your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add the cold water, press together and knead lightly into a smooth ball of dough. Cling wrap the dough and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Place flour in the mixer bowl. Add oil and mix with your hands until it forms a soft dough. Shape into a smooth ball, cling wrap and chill dough for 20 minutes to firm it up.
To form spirals:
Divide the water dough into 8 equal pieces, do the same with the oil dough.
Flatten the water dough into a circle and wrap it around the ball of oil dough, pinching the edges together at the top to seal.
Place the wrapped dough on the worktop and press down with the palms to flatten it. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to a rectangular shape.
Working from the short end, roll up tightly into a Swiss roll. Flatten this cylinder again and roll out pastry to a rectangle. Roll from the short side into a Swiss roll (in other words, do this rolling process twice). Cut roll into 2 pieces of about 1 inch/2 cm thick (altogether you will have 16 pieces of sliced dough). Flatten and roll out this piece of dough on the cut side and you will see the spiral pattern.
To fill the spiral dough:
Take a flattened piece of dough and roll into a circle. Place a tablespoon of filling in the centre.
Brush the edge with water and fold pastry into half, press the edges together to seal and pinch with thumb and forefinger to crimp the edges.
Place each finished puff on the tray, cover with a sheet of cling wrap, while you fill the remaining dough. Refrigerate until firm.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the top and crimped edges of the curry puffs with the beaten egg, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the white parts of the crust are golden brown. Serve warm.