Monday, December 22, 2008

Curry Turnovers(?)

Rows and rows of homemade beef curry pies

Okay, so I have no idea what to call these things. Even in Chinese I've heard them called both jia li jiao and ga li jiao. I asked my mom if one was Mandarin and the other Taiwanese or Cantonese, but even she admits she doesn't know. My guess is that the former is Taiwanese Mandarin and the latter possibly Beijing Mandarin or Cantonese. Anyone know? Anyways, whatever these things are, they're delicious. The first time I ever had them my mom made the pastry from scratch, and it was this incredibly complicated process of making two types of dough and then combining them so that you got this extremely flaky crust, kind of like this. But then one day I was flipping through some old copies of Better Homes and Gardens and noticed that there was this reader submitted recipe for something very similar that just used refrigerated pie crust, and I was sold. They also used mashed potatoes instead of pieces of cooked potato, but I decided to use mashed potato flakes instead to make it even simpler.

The most impressive part of these turnovers is the crimped crust, which of course, my mom taught me how to do. Here's a quick video to show you how to do it:

Curry Turnovers (or whatever they're called)
makes about 56

2 packages of refrigerated pie crusts (4 pie crusts total)
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
4 tablespoons curry powder
1 lb. ground beef, 80% lean is good (you don't want to get too lean)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 egg yolk, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 450° F.

Thaw and unwrap the pie crusts. Unfold and use a cup or cookie cutter to cut out 3" circles. Re-roll the excess pie crust and cut more. You should be able to get around 56 circles.

Cutting circles out of the pie crust

Saute the onions and 1 tablespoon curry powder in the oil until the onions are sweating. Add the ground beef and continue cooking until beef is brown. Add soy sauce and more curry powder to taste.

Add 1/4 cup potato flakes to bind the mixture. Continue adding flakes until all the liquid is soaked up and the mixture is no longer crumbly.

Place a little less than 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each pie crust circle. Fold in half and pinch the edges to seal.

Filled curry turnovers

Place the turnovers on a cookie sheet and brush the top of each with the beaten egg yolk.

Bake at 450° F for 9 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Curry turnovers

The reason for the color difference in the turnovers above is that I used two different brands of pie crust dough: Pillsbury and Shaws. Believe it or not, the darker turnovers were made using the Pillsbury brand. I'm not sure if there is a difference in the thickness of the doughs or more likely the ingredients in the dough, but the Pillsbury brand was a lot easier to shape. Taste-wise, I think I like the Pillsbury ones better, too; it's just too bad they don't look as nice as the Shaws' ones. Oh yeah, and personally, I think these taste better once they've cooled down and aren't piping hot anymore. =)


  1. I found your blog on Tastespotting, and wow! I'm an American-born Taiwanese, too, and so many of these foods are so nostalgic. These curry turnovers were something I thought only my mom made, but I'm glad to see them on your blog! I've been bugging her for recipes for years, but she never measures if I want recipes, I have to observe her and take notes very quickly, haha. Thanks for sharing! I'll have to try your versions. :)

  2. it's called curry puff

  3. This recipe is really going to keep me busy in the kitchen with all its glamor. This is another must for the weekend! My kids would just hug me for this. Curry Puff!

  4. Looks like "Sri Lankan Patties" and, I've see similar turnovers/patties in Jamaican eateries. Has to be something influenced from England.

  5. These look delicious! They seem similar to the British meat pasty - will have to try these soon.

  6. jia li and ga li both refers to the Chinese transliteration of the word curry, 咖喱. Both are Mandarin, though jia li is an incorrect pronunciation.

  7. Is there one particular kind of curry powder that you would recommend? Or whatever is around? This looks great!

    1. I wish I knew enough about curry powders to have a preference, but I usually just grab one that looks yellowish brown and authentic, whatever that means....

    2. Thanks, Joy! I'll just wing it! :) I figured I'd go for the S&B Curry Powder since it would have more of a Japanese flavor and thus, more Taiwanese. My brother and I used to love getting curry turnovers from the bakeries when we lived in Taiwan for a while and it has been years since I had one.