½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup warm water
270g (9.5 oz) cake flour*
1 tbsp margarine or ghee, plus extra to coat
vegetable oil, for shallow–frying
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
300g (10.5 oz) beef mince
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
Ajat (tangy cucumber & chilli dip):
½ cup white sugar
½ cup white vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
½ small cucumber, sliced into rounds, then quartered
1 small Asian red shallot (or eschalot), sliced
1 long red chilli, sliced
In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Place the flour in a separate large bowl, then add the margarine. Use your fingers to distribute evenly into the flour.
Make a well in the centre. Add the egg and about one-third of the sugar/salt water. Stir, adding the remaining water gradually, until the mixture comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until soft, smooth and elastic (you can also use a stand mixer with the dough hook if you have one). Divide dough into 6 equal balls. Coat each ball with extra margarine, then transfer to an oiled tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to rest.
To make the ajat, heat the sugar, vinegar and salt in a saucepan over high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Place the cucumber, shallot and chill in a small bowl. Pour over the cooled vinegar mixture. This can be made up to a day in advance.
For the beef filling, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over high heat. Add the onion. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the curry powder and stir to coat. Increase heat to high. Add the mince and cook, stirring, until browned. Add 2/3 cup water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until water has evaporated. Season with salt. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. When cooled, stir in the eggs and coriander.
Return the dough balls to room temperature. Lightly oil a work surface. Use the palm of your hand to ‘press’ a dough ball out until it’s very thin (about 2mm, or 1/16”, thick). Place one-sixth of the filling into the middle of the pastry. Fold the pastry – envelope style – to enclose. Carefully transfer to an oiled tray.
Repeat with the remaining dough and mince. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to come 1cm (a little over 3/8”) up the side. Cook the murtabaks, in batches, for 5 minutes, turning often or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into pieces. Serve warm or room temperature with the ajat.
– Try to use cake flour as it is a lower protein flour than pizza or bread flour. You could also use plain or all-purpose flour here if you can’t find cake flour