It’s interesting to see the many overlaps and influences that make up a cuisine. The name of the Curry Puff has evolved and adapted in transliteration. The Malay transliteration of Curry Puff is “Kari Pap” and in Thai it’s “Kari Puff”(with an accent.) On one of our first mornings in Penang, we walked through a market and made our first pit stop of the day at Adam’s Famous Curry Puff stand, which also sold Nasi Lemak. They were delicious, hot, crunchy, buttery, and filled with spiced mashed potatoes and minced chicken. There are also variations of this deep-fried treat in other parts of Southeast Asia; In Singapore, hardboiled eggs have been incorporated into the stuffing.
The deep-fried Curry Puffs were traditionally made by the Hainanese, who cooked for the British when they were in Malaysia. The puff pastry component of the snack came from the British influence and the filling might have been influenced by the Indian Samosa, which had minced mutton, potatoes and onions. Today, the deep-fried Curry Puffs are made by the Nonyas and the Malays; The Malays also sometimes use tinned sardines in their stuffing.
Curry Puffs are also common in Thailand and Singapore and can be bought as cheap snacks at local markets and bakeries in Thailand. The ones at Adam’s will cost you roughly 50 cents a piece!