Sri Lankan Snacks – Yummy Fish Cutlets

Sri Lankans are mad on snacks, or “short-eats” and “bites” as they like to call them. Short Eats are usually eaten with a cup of tea in a bakery or a Sri Lankan kade and can be sweet (like a tea cake) or savoury (like a fish bun aka “malu pan“). Bites are usually snacks that accompany an alcoholic drinking session (like devilled fried beef slices or manioca chips). The famous Sri Lankan fish cutlets fall into both categories.

The reason why I thought of this blog post is that two of my best friends in the world are celebrating their birthday this coming Sunday – June 10th. They both live in the UK so I can’t be with them as I’ll still be here in the rainy paradise that is Sri Lanka. I’m too late to send a present or card (sorry guys!) and yeah I will Facebook them and text them on Sunday but what could I do to give them something more??? Then it came to me => I could dedicate a few blog posts to them both: Helen Lodge & Julie Allington (they don’t know each other by the way but will one day!!).

So I got thinking – what do they both have in common and what would they enjoy? The obvious answer was that they both love a good party so I started thinking cocktails (this will follow!) and food to accompany the drinks…oh and boozy food!

I also started thinking along the lines of Themes and yup I think I have my next few blogs covered! Julie – the rock-chick and Helen – miss sophistication with a mischievous streak 🙂

Firstly though let’s get the food out of way so the party can start. Both Julie & Helen love Sri Lanka so I can’t go wrong with this recipe for Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets (without garlic as Julie isn’t a fan):

Ingredients (Serves 4):

For the Fish mix:

2 medium potatoes, cubed

2 tins of tuna chunks, drained (you can use salmon or mackerel too) – some use fresh fish but this is a party so we’re keeping it simple!

1 medium red onion, chopped very finely

2 – 3 green chilies, chopped very finely, deseeded

4 – 5 curry leaves, shredded (use coriander leaves if you can’t get curry leaves)

½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or more if you like it spicy like me)

1 tsp or more chili powder

½ tsp coriander powder (optional)

½ tsp cumin powder (optional)

½ tsp lime (or lemon) juice to taste

1 tsp Dijon mustard


For Frying

4 tbsp plain bread crumbs for coating (just buy the shop stuff – this isn’t a fine dining recipe…this is a celebration!)

2 medium eggs beaten

Oil for deep frying (coconut oil for a more authentic but vegetable oil is just as good)


1. Boil the potatoes with a pinch of salt until well done. When they’re done, drain and leave to cool in the sieve. You want the water from the potatoes to evaporate, so leave them to do their thing.

2. In the meantime, prepare the remaining ingredients except for the salt and lime juice, and mix them well in a bowl (if you have time you can fry the onions, chillies and curry leaves first for a more authentic taste and crispy texture). When the potatoes have cooled down, mash them and add to the mixture in the bowl (I do this by hand…it really is the easiest way). Add the lime (or lemon) juice and salt to taste.

3. Sprinkle a little oil in a pan and sauté the mixture for 10 mins and let it cool.

4. Then take about a golf-ball sized amount of mixture and roll it into a ball. Next dip the ball into the egg, and then into bread crumbs. Do all the cutlets in this way.

NOW – once the cutlets are ready you can freeze them for up to one month. So you can prepare this dish in advance of your party and you just need to deep fry them on the day 🙂

5. To fry – pour oil into a deep pan, or a wok and put on medium high. You’ll need enough oil for deep frying. The oil is hot enough when it sizzles when you insert a wooden spoon (or test a piece of bread out).

6. Fry the fish cutlets for a few minutes turning often to ensure an even colour, until they are hot and the coating is cooked crispy.


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