06 April 2009

Stormy skies equal curry buns

Supposedly, we are in the hottest and driest season of the year in Bangkok. However, the weekend started with a massive storm in the very early morning hours and has continued to gust for the better part of our holiday weekend.* The wind continues to slam the house, thunder cracks overhead and the rain comes down so steadily that it is hard to see any space at all between the giant pelts of water falling from the sky. 

A storm now and then can be quite enjoyable, but after several days of our street turning to a river, I finally looked at the mud-colored water streaming by and gave in to one of the basic pleasures of childhood. After a wonderful morning of homemade play dough and painting butterfly pictures, I took the kids puddle jumping (and yes, Bangkok's rain water is just as disgusting as any guide book will lead you to believe). We returned home to hot showers and then sought some quiet in a newly discovered Australian children's television program. As I sat within ear shot of the well loved program, sipping my french pressed black coffee, I heard my kids sweetly sing along with the actors: "Five curry buns in a bakery shop, round and fat with sugar on the top." Well, that sounded delicious and just like the sweet bun I tried last week from a vendor at the Skytrain station. And, so the remainder of the day's activities were immediately born. After another 15 minutes of sing-a-long, the kids jumped at the opportunity to help me create a Thai Curry Bun recipe. And, as the rain pelted the house, we put some music on, measured yeast and watched it rise, had flour flying and kneaded until our wrists hurt.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 42:
Thai Curry Buns (with sugar on the top!)
This recipe looks complex, but it's actually fairly easy. You will need a few special supplies to make them turn out correctly: a wok with a perforated metal steaming plate that sits above the water and a cover that fits the wok.** You'll also want to have small (2 inch by 2 inch) pre-cut waxed paper squares at the ready. If you have a stormy afternoon to spend, make a big batch of buns and freeze the extras. You can defrost, heat and have an instant lunch or snack that will transport you to the street vendors of Thailand!

Dough, step one-
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water

Dough, step two-
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon veggie oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (set aside, you will need this much later in the recipe)
extra sugar

1 teaspoon veggie oil
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 boneless chicken breast, raw, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 cup water
pepper, to taste

Begin with the dough, step one. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and allow to stand for fifteen minutes. In the meantime, in a large saute pan, add the oil and onion. Cook until wilted and translucent, adding water as necessary to keep from burning. Add the chicken, raisins, curry and water. Cook over high heat until the chicken is opaque. Add a dash of pepper and remove from heat. Allow to cool and then chop finely.

Next, add all (except the baking powder) of the "dough, step 2" ingredients to your already started dough mixture. Remove from bowl and knead until combined. You may need to add a little bit more flour as you knead to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. However, take caution, you want the dough to be slightly sticky (it shouldn't be a dry dough). Place in a bowl, uncovered, and allow to sit for at least one hour. When you return to the dough, use the reserved baking powder to lightly dust your work surface and form the dough into individual golf ball size rounds. Working on one at a time, flatten the ball, spoon a tiny amount of filling into the middle and gather the edges around the filling, returning it to a ball-like shape. Place seam side down on a small square of waxed paper. Repeat until all the dough is gone. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top of each stuffed bun. Allow filled balls to sit for at least 30 minutes. 

In a wok holding boiling water, with a metal steaming plate sitting above the water, place the buns about two inches apart (still on the waxed paper squares) onto the steaming plate. Cook, in batches, for 15 to 20 minutes. Wipe the lid dry between batches (otherwise, the dripping water will discolor the buns). Eat warm and enjoy!

* Celebrated annually on April 6, Chakri day is the founding day of the royal Chakri Dynasty. The present monarch is the ninth king of the dynasty.

** Truth be told, I don't currently have the ideal wok and steaming plate (but it's on my wish list for the near future!). Cooking these buns is a bit tricky without the right gear, but I can attest to the fact that it can be done. I use a tall slender pasta pot to hold the boiling water, place a perforated pizza pan on top of that and then cover it with an inverted pot the same size as the pasta pot. The whole thing gets entirely too hot and is a bit clunky to work with, but... it works!

1 comment:

  1. I want to splash in puddles. I'm in Sydney and its dry, dry, dry. I think I know the tele program you discovered- Playschool? My kids (6 and 8) still love to sing songs from that show. I'm going to try your curry bun recipe this weekend and take them to a brunch at a friends' house. I hope they turn out! I'll let you know!


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