Making cookies with short crust pastry – Trinidadian Kurma

Since I miserably failed making a short crust pastry and ever since I found out how to fix it, I’ve been making far too many short crust pastries! I’ve made a chocolate tart, with short crust pastry, a chicken and leek pie, with short crust pastry, a beef pie, with short crust pastry. All of them worked out! I’ll probably write about all of them some time, but then I discovered another short crust pastry recipe! It would be a perfect combination with my ultimate cookie series!

In Trinidad & Tobago an often eaten and made cookie, is kurma. It a fried cookie with a sugar layer. Since diwali was coming close at the time, I decided to give it a try and see whether I could make it in my Dutch kitchen. When I finished the cookie and bit through the first cookie I saw it, the layered structure which is so typical for short crust pastry. This cookie is also a short crust pastry!

Trinidadian kurma

Since I had never made kurma before, I looked up a recipe and found one that was clear enough. I adjusted it a little. For now, I’ll only focus on the cookie, my sugar syrup didn’t work out well enough yet…

Making cookies with short crust pastry - Trinidadian Kurma
  • 225g regular flour
  • 55g butter:shortening (50/50)
  • 60g water
  1. Mix butter + shortening with flour, you can use a dough cutter, until it looks crumbly. Keep it as cool as possible.
  2. Mix in water and shape into a firm ball, cool if it warmed up a lot.
  3. Roll out the dough in a thin (probably 3-4 mm) flat layer. Cut the dough into narrow (approx.1 cm) long strands.
  4. Heat up oil in a wok. Fry the pieces in the oil. The pieces shouldn't brown too quickly, to make sure that they cook through.

Science of kurma

Kurma not only tastes great (especially after coating it with a wonderful ginger sugar syrup), it’s also fun to make. Let’s dive into ‘kurmascience’.

First thing you might notice is that a kurma recipe calls for a lot less fat than the short crust pastry I made. For the short crust pastry the flour : fat : water ratio is 3 : 2 : 1 (the water is 50% water, 50% egg). However, for kurma it’s 3 : 0,7 : 0,8, totally different, with a lot less fat. I think the main reason for this is that the kurma is fried quickly in oil. You need enough water to create to open structures in the kurma.

When kneading the fat into the flour, what you’ll do is coat all the fat with flour. This way, you’ll create little pockets of fat in your cookie. The water is mixed in to make it a coherent dough. By not kneading the dough too much with the water, you’ll make sure the gluten won’t develop too much.

freshly fried kurma cookies

Frying kurma

By dropping the dough in hot oil they’ll expand nearly immediately, similarly to frying other products. The heat will make the starch to coagulate and the gluten to set. The outside becomes firm and moisture won’t escape anymore. Straight after that (this happens shortly after it’s been put in the oil actually), moisture from the dough will evaporate. Since it cannot leave the dough, it will simply expand the dough as long as it’s still flexible. At the same time, the fat in between the flour will melt. This is what creates the layery structure, just like it does in short crust pastry.

The dough pieces have to stay in the oil for some time to assure that the outside has crisped up. It crisps up because moisture in the outer layers evaporates. The inside will also have to cook through.


I hadn’t made fried cookies before, it was great to experiment. When you look around on the internet you’ll find that kurma is always covered in sugar syrup. However, when I made it, it didn’t work out just fine yet. So I’ll experiment a little more on that.

Kurma cookies from Trinidad - using science to improve them further

One Comment

  1. Tay

    Thanks so much for sharing! I love Kurma but also failed miserable at making it. I never looked at it as a fried pasty before. With you sharing the science aspect of it, it makes total sense now. I’ll go attempt this tonight and I am looking forward to having this as dessert.

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