Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kerala Beef Puffs

Grinding spices_edited-1

When we were young, my parents used their mother tongue as a code language to discuss private matters. My ears always perked up when they switched from English to Malayalam, lowered their voices, and glanced in my direction. Eager to crack the code, I listened closely and picked out words I knew from their sing-song sentences. More often than not, my caveman understanding of the language led me nowhere. 

Sauteing onions, garlic, ginger, and potatoes_edited-1

Over time, my parents spoke more and more Malay-English, making it easier for me to translate their tête-à-têtes. Unless it was British English. That just added a layer of confusion.

Cooking beef and peas2

Who knew that to the Brits, gas is petrol, trucks are lories, cookies are biscuits, cafeterias are mess halls, pants are trousers, scarves are mufflers, purses are hang bags, shades are blinds, grades are marks, stewardesses are air hostesses, lawyers are solicitors, and apartments are flats?  And morons? Well, they're bloody fools 

Layering beef on puff pastry

Forced to decipher what seemed like gibberish, I would eventually tune out to my parent's relief. 

Kerala Beef Puffs


In Kerala, puffs are turnovers made with a variety of fillings. My favorite version has spiced beef tucked inside. The flaky pies are wonderful as appetizers or served with a side salad.

Makes 20 to 22 


1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons coriander
2½ tablespoons oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
½ teaspoon salt
1 small potato, boiled and finely cubed
2 teaspoons minced ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch cayenne
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons water
½ pound lean ground beef
14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted
1 large egg, beaten


Blend the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom pods, and coriander in a spice grinder until finely powdered.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low. Add the onions and salt. Cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. 

Add the ground spices, potatoes, ginger, garlic powder, cayenne, turmeric, and water. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the beef and mix until thoroughly combined. Continue until beef is fully cooked, about 8 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly flour a cutting board and rolling pin. Lay one sheet of puff pastry on the board. Roll it into a large square. 

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the pastry dough into twelve squares.   

Layer a teaspoon of beef filling in the center of each piece of dough. 

Using your index finger, spread a thin layer of beaten egg along the edges of the dough. 

Fold each piece of dough to form a triangle. Press the edges with with a fork to seal in the filling. 

Place the filled dough on two cookie sheet covered in parchment. 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. 


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