Video: How to make Epok epok (curry puffs)

Flavours of home is a series of recipes from around the world cooked by people at home in Otago. This week, Lee Yin Fong and her son Chin Loh, from Malaysia, show us how to make epok epok, also known as kari kok (curry puffs).

Lee Yin Fong and her husband Leong Hong Loh, from Pahang in Malaysia, came to Dunedin in 2005 to join their son Chin Loh and daughter-in-law Kam Liew and their children.

Leong, a retired Chinese herbalist, now grows vegetables and keeps hens, and Lee cooks Chinese and Malaysian food for the family, making traditional delicacies, noodles, sambal pastes and sweets.

Lee manages to find most of the ingredients she needs, although she balks at the New Zealand prices.

However, she insists on having curry powder sent from Malaysia. Leong is trying to grow some Malaysian Chinese vegetables and herbs such as curry leaves in a glasshouse - dried ones are not as good as fresh, he says.

Lee's food is so good, says Chin, that when they visit Malaysia and are asked if they miss the food there, they say they get it all in New Zealand.

In Malaysia many things are manufactured instead of made at home and not as good, he says.

He went to high school in Wellington, then to the University of Otago and now owns several pharmacies.

Curry puffs are a traditional Malay dish, showing the multicultural influences in its culture and cuisine. It's probably of Portuguese origin because pastry is not native to the region, he says.

They are a typical snack and often deep-fried because ovens are not traditional in Malaysia but they can be baked, which is more healthy.

Lee learned how to make them from several Malay women.

Getting the pastry right is the hardest part, she says. Two different mixes are made and rolled together creating a crisp, flaky, but slightly crumbly pastry.

Epok epok (curry puffs)

Makes 14

For the pastry:

Mix A

100g flour
70g shortening (such as Chefade)
¼ tsp salt

Mix B

60g butter
150g flour
70ml cold water

For A, work the flour and shortening together with your fingers. As it comes together, tip it on to the bench and continue until it forms a soft dough.

Repeat with B, working flour, butter and water into a soft dough.

Leave the doughs to rest for about 10 minutes while you make the filling.


200g chicken mince
300g potatoes, peeled and diced
80g onion, finely diced
100g baby peas
1-2 Tbsp curry powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour
a little water
2 eggs, hard-boiled and cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk for glazing

Heat a little oil in a wok, add the chicken mince and stir for a few moments.

Add diced potato and curry powder and stir until fragrant. Add a little water to moisten and cook for a minute or two. Then add onion, peas, salt, sugar and the cornflour dissolved in a little water to thicken.

Allow to cool while you shape the pastry. Preheat oven to 200degC, fanbake.

To shape the pastry

Roll dough A into a sausage, cut into 14 portions of 12g each and roll into balls. Roll dough B into a sausage, cut into 14 portions of 18g each and roll into balls.

Knead each ball of dough B and roll out with a rolling pin into a round. Place a ball of A in the centre and wrap the B pastry around it.

With a rolling pin, roll this ball into a long, narrow oval and with your fingers roll up into a cigar shape from the end.

When you have 14 cigar shapes, with a rolling pin roll each from end to end into a long, narrow oval, and roll up from the end into a short, fat sausage. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Stand each sausage on end and press down with your hand. Roll into a circle and cut into a neat round 8-10cm in diameter. Roll the edges a little thinner.

Hold each round in your cupped hand. Place a piece of hard-boiled egg in the bottom, then spoon some of the filling in. Fold the pastry into a half-moon shape and press the edges together firmly. With thumb and forefinger, pleat the edges neatly and lay on baking paper on an oven tray.

When all the puffs are made, brush with egg wash made by mixing an egg yolk with a little water and a pinch of salt. Bake at 200degC for about 20 minutes.

Thanks to Afife Harris and Hinton fruit and produce.


• A plastic mould can be used to shape the puffs, but Lee Yin Fong says it's better to use your hands.

• Now this is made with shortening, but in the past lard would have been used.

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