It is my turn to be the Kitchen of the Month over at the Bread Baking Babes. After having baked bread together as a group every month from 2008, they’ve baked over a 100 breads already! So picking a recipe for this month took a little time. I picked Japanese Curry Buns or Kare Pan (some call these Curry Doughnuts!) as I’ve been meaning to make them for a while now. Put it down to the fact that I like savoury breads more than sweet, or that I’m Indian and “curry” sounds good!
I’ve never been to Japan and most of what I know about the country, its people, traditions and cuisines is second hand. Japanese are known for adapting European bread and dessert recipes and making them better. They call bread “pan” after the Portuguese word for bread because it seems bread first came to Japan through trading with Portugal.
Kare Buns are apparently very popular in Japan and are sold everywhere. So it’s quite probable that not too many people in Japan make these at home. Kare Buns are nothing but yeasted bread dough folded over curry. These are rolled in Panko crumbs and then deep fried till brown, crisp and crunchy. There are baked versions but I don’t think they come anywhere near the traditional deep fried kind.
The Japanese seem to have their own way of making Curry that seems a bit strange to me. I used my own version of Curry so my Kare Pan are somewhat like Indian Samosas or Middle Eastern Sambusak except the outer covering is bread instead of flaky pastry.
You can use any Curry filling you like (leftovers are a good way to go) but just remember to use a comparatively dry filling or the Buns will become soggy. I used a vegetarian Indian style filling that is pretty much like the vegetable curry we make for Pav Bhaji, a very popular and spicy Indian street food. I have included the recipe for it just in case any of you might like to try it. The leftover Curry can be refrigerated, heated up the next day and be eaten with bread rolls or Indian flatbreads.
We don’t get Japanese Panko here in India so one could use regular breadcrumbs. Panko is better though, because it absorbs less oil than breadcrumbs, keeping food more crisp and crunchy. You can easily make Panko at home from white bread. Tear day old sliced bread (with or without crust is a personal choice) into largish pieces and run it a couple of times in the processor. You’ll have largish flaky looking Panko style bread crumbs.
Making Kare Pan is not very difficult, and dough comes together quite easily. However here are a few things I thought were important to note as I made my Curry Buns.
- One needs a good balance between the amount of filling and bread in these Curry Buns. It is a good idea to roll out the dough reasonably thin to achieve this. I’d say about 1/4″ thick would be good.
- The Curry filling should be dry and moist but without gravy. Wet Curry will be difficult to stuff into the dough and can also leak out during deep frying.
- Japanese Curry Pan is usually half-moon shaped like turnovers or spindle shaped but one can also shape them into round balls. I had a tough time shaping them into half-moons and finally decided to make them into round balls, the easiest shape of all for me.
- I don’t like my breads tasting like omelette because of egg wash, so I dipped my shaped Buns into a thin slurry of all-purpose flour and water and then coated them with the Panko crumbs.
- Coat the Panko crumbs well and then using your palms , press the crumbs in by rolling the balls gently between your palms (like you are shaping them into a ball). I found this kept most of the Panko crumbs on the Buns making them crisp. The oil also had less of burnt debris from loose crumbs.
- I use oil in a wok for deep frying so I’m not sure about oil temperatures for a deep fryer but I understand that 365 degrees F /185 degrees C should be about right. If the oil is not hot enough, the Buns will not crisp up. They will absorb oil and become greasy and soggy. If it becomes too hot the Buns will burn without cooking. Remember the curry is already cooked so only the bread needs to cook.
This recipe is somewhat adapted from Mamaloli. It makes about 8 to 10 Kare Pan depending on the size you make them. I made mine about the size of a round that would fit into my palm. I have to say that these Curry Buns are extremely good. Think flaky crisp and crunchy crust that’s also bready filled with delicious curry and you have it. These are best eaten as soon as they’re made.
Japanes Curry Buns – Kare Pan
- For the Dough:
- 1 tsp dry active yeast (or 3/4 tsp instant yeast)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose bread flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsps oil
- 1/2 cup water
- For the Spicy Vegetable Curry:
- 2 1/2 cups diced mixed vegetables (carrot, cauliflower, beans)
- 1/3 cup frozen green peas
- 3 big potatoes
- 2 tbsps oil
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 big onion chopped fine
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 1/2 tsps coriander powder
- 1 1/2 tsps cumin powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 3 to 4 tbsps coriander chopped fresh
- To Coat the Shaped Kare Pan:
- A thin almost watery slurry/ mixture of all-purpose flour and water (or two eggs beaten well)
- 1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs
- Oil for deep-frying
- For the Curry : You can make this ahead or do it while the dough is rising. Steam cook the mixed vegetables and the potatoes till well done. Mash them very well and keep aside.
- In a largish wok, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and saute taking care to see it doesn’t burn. Add the onions and sauté again it is soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook them till they’re soft and mushy.
- Use your potato masher, or a wooden spoon, to mash the onion-tomato mixture further. Cook until the oil appears on the edge.
- Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until the raw smell of the spices disappears. Add the mashed vegetables, salt and about quarter a cup of water. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until everything blends into a homogenous thick moist consistency with no gravy Mix in the chopped coriander and let it cool. Use to fill the Curry Buns.
- For the Dough: Mix together the yeast and sugar into the 1/4 cup warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes until frothy. If you’re using instant yeast, just mix that and the sugar into the flours.
- In a large bowl (or use your food processor/ kneading machine), mix together the flours and the salt. Add the frothy yeast mixture (or instant yeast and sugar), the oil and the water. Knead well, adding as much more water (or some flour if needed ) as necessary to form a smooth elastic dough.
- Roll the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, coating it with the oil. Cover loosely and let it rise till double in size (should take about 1 1/2 hours or so).
- Deflate the dough and divide it into equal 10 (or 12) pieces. Place them on your lightly floured work surface, cover and let them rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. Get the Curry filling ready. Also get the flour slurry or beaten egg, and the Panko crumbs all ready.
- Working quickly with one piece at a time, gently press down a piece of dough and roll it out into a circle about 1/4" thick. Place a generous amount (not too much) of filling in the centre and bring up the side together over the filling to shape into a ball. Otherwise, fold over into a half-moon taking care to seal the edges very well. Use water or egg if necessary to seal.
- Dip the dough ball into the flour slurry (or beaten egg) and then roll it in the breadcrumbs till it is coated well. If shaping into a ball. Use your palms to gently press in the breadcrumbs. Keep aside. Quickly repeat with remaining dough pieces and filling. Let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the meanwhile heat enough oil in a wok or fryer for deep frying the dough balls. Once the oil is hot enough (365 degrees F/ 185 degrees C), gently drop 2 or 3 of the dough balls in the oil turning them over so they brown evenly. Once they’re a deep golden brown (should take about a couple of minutes) remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and let them drain on paper towels.
- Serve them warm as they are or with sauce. They will be crisp and crunchy on the outside and a little bready on the inside with the filling.
The Bread Baking Babes:
Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
Blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
Life’s A Feast – Jamie
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Bread Experience – Cathy
Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy
Karen’s Kitchen Stories – Karen K
A Messy Kitchen – Kelly
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) are a closed group, you can still bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. As you know, I am The Kitchen of the Month for April. To join us, make Kare Pan according to the recipe above, and please post it on your blog before the 30th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to this post in your own post.
Then e-mail me at aparna[AT]mydiversekitchen[DOT]com with a link to your Kare Pan post and a photograph of your bread that is 500px wide. Please also mention “Bread Baking Buddies” in the subject line. I will include your bread in the Buddy round-up in this post at the end of this month. So let’s get baking then.
I will then send you your “Bread Baking Buddy” badge which you may add to your post.