After jerk chicken, Jamaican beef patties are one of the more well known Caribbean dishes. They're delicious savory pastries sort of like empanadas (which are kind of like turnovers), but the dough is denser. Jamaican cooking is full of strong, spicy flavors, so many different spices are usually used.
Here in St. Lucia food usually isn't hot-spicy, but we do use a lot of curries because of the East Indian population influence.
Inspired by this, limited by my choice to refrain from buying meat, I came up with my own version of a Jamaican patty. The veggies involved are onions, eggplant, and shredded cabbage, with lentils thrown in for protein. The patties aren't exactly low-fat (butter and shortening are used in the pastry, coconut milk in the filling), but they are filling and full of healthy stuff. Plus they're delicious!
Vegetarian Curry Patties
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yellow curry powder
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 black plantain, cooked, mashed, cooled (about 1/3 cup) (if not using plantain, make sure shortening and butter together total at least 3/4 cup)
1/2 cold water (more as needed)
1 Tbsp oil (I used soybean oil)
1 1/2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
salt to taste
1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup dry lentils
1 cup eggplant, diced
1 cup cabbage, finely shredded and chopped
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Flour for rolling dough
1 egg, beaten for brushing patties
1. If using a black (very ripe) plantain in the pastry, cut off both ends, cut in two, boil 10 minutes. Let it cool, remove the skin from one of the halves, and mash it up with a fork. Put it in the fridge for 10 minutes.
2. Sort, wash, and soak lentils. (Usually they don't need to be soaked, but with the oil and coconut milk in the filling they'll need the extra moisture to soften up.)
3. In a large bowl, start the pastry. Mix flours, salt, curry powder. Cut in shortening, butter, and plantain bit by bit. Mix thoroughly until everything clumps and breaks apart easily.
4. Add cold water bit by bit, mix until a tight ball of dough is formed. Wrap dough in plastic, refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
5. Dice eggplant to 1/4 inch cubes, toss with a pinch of salt, set aside.
6. Saute curry, cayenne, salt, and onion with oil in medium saucepan, 8 minutes over low-med heat. Add minced garlic, saute for 2 minutes, then reduce heat.
7. Add coconut milk, lentils, and eggplant (diced to 1/4" cubes). Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cabbage, continue to cook 10-15 minutes, letting the mixture reduce until it's moist but no longer soupy (resembling cooked ground beef, actually). If lentils don't soften after about 20 minutes, add 1/4 cup water, continue to cook and reduce. Add lemon juice, stir, remove from heat.
8. Preheat oven to 350F and get out the pastry dough.
9. Sprinkle a clean, dry, even surface with flour, and flour your trusty rolling pin. Pinch off a 3 inch ball of dough, flatten it, roll it out as you would a flour tortilla, but just a little thicker. Use a bowl between 5-7 inches diameter to cut a circle in dough.
10. Spoon the filling onto half the circle, leaving at least 1/2" around edge. Fold other half of pastry over, use a fork to press the two edges together, place on greased cookie sheet, brush with egg.
11. Repeat steps 7 and 8 to make all the patties. Cookie sheet with patties goes in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Makes 5-14, depending on size.
I found that though the patties are good while they're still warm from the oven, they are a little too dry. After they've been covered at room temperature for a day, the pastry is softer and moister, and it can be reheated easily. Refrigerate after 1 day.
The aroma from the filling cooking was one of the best I've had in my apartment since I moved in. Sometime I'll do just the filling without reducing it and eat it over noodles as a fake Thai dish.