Heirloom Recipes

The Southeast Asian Snack I Drove Across Israel For

February 27, 2017

At home in New York, I was accustomed to ordering Thai food on any given night when I was too tired to cook, rainy evenings, lazy Saturday afternoons, you name it. Curry Puffs and Pad See Ew developed into serious comfort food for my husband and me. When we moved to Israel, Thai food was hard to come by. In the small city where we called home, there wasn’t a single Thai restaurant, and I did lug home Thai take-out from a reputable restaurant in Tel Aviv (which was an hour and a half away).

Thai wasn't the only comfort food that was hard to come by. While it can be frustrating, it also forced me to be creative and figure out how to make it on my own. Burritos, Chicken Tikka Masala, and even meatloaf all made it into my repertoire when living in Israel. So, this is my attempt at curry puffs, based on memory and guesswork. I figured puff pastry would make a good crust, and coconut milk was a must. While not an exact replica, they’re pretty darn close and regardless are completely addictive. Don’t skip the cucumber dipping sauce. For me, that’s what really made the experience like home.

A few notes on the recipe. I meant to use chicken breast but got turkey instead (darn language barrier and rushing in the supermarket), but it turned out great. Purchasing ground chicken or turkey would cut a step out and works great. I like to pulse the chicken breast in the food processor so I have control over the texture; I want it rough for this recipe, but that’s a personal preference. This recipe makes a lot, but they also freeze really well so it’s worth it to put in the effort once and then have a supply for later. Alternately, you can easily halve the recipe. Finally, really taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. I thought it needed a little sweetness so added sugar, but it’s not necessary. Same for the dipping sauce.

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A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.