Sri-Lankan Fish Patties (Fish Empanadas)

Sri-Lankan Fish Patties (Fish Empanadas)

Sri-Lankan fish patties (fish Empanadas) are legendary and there is not a single Sri-Lankan (or anyone who have tried this) who doesn’t like these so called ‘short-eats’.

Short-eats are basically snacks and finger foods, which can be eaten on the go, mainly for breakfast or during the evening.


Inside of the Sri-lankan fish patties


Other varieties of my favourite savoury Sri-Lankan short-eats include Cutlets (spicy fish cakes), mutton rolls, fish and egg rolls, Maalu buns (fish buns), rice donuts and stuffed roti’s, just to name a few.


mashed potato being added to the fish mixture for the fish patties


Most of the Sri-Lankans (or if you are friends with other Sri-Lankan), expects and look forward to having these delicious and addictive patties at a get together for a party, a game night or if you are on the road or a picnic. It’s incredibly versatile; they are truly one of Sri-Lankan delicacies.


Fish fillings for the Sr-lankan fish patties


The scrumptious fillings inside the flaky and crispy pastries are generally slightly spicy (or more spicy; it depends on your tolerance) and savoury.


Pastry cut into Circles for the fish patties


The filling inside these delicious dumpling shaped pastry snacks doesn’t necessarily have to be fish, although most of the Sri-Lankan patties are made with fish fillings, as Sri-Lanka is an island where you get abundance of fresh seafood throughout the year, regardless of the season.


Fish filling in the pastry and sealed patties


You can make the fillings with meat (small chicken pieces goes really well compared to red meat) and vegetables (mostly made with the same filling as on this recipe, excluding the fish).


Sealed patties ready for airfrying


Typically, these patties are deep fried to give it a crispy finish but I have chosen to use Air fryer to fry these beauties to keep them healthy. You still get the crispy finish as deep-frying but without the calories.


Fish patties in the air fryer


You can always freeze the uncooked patties for fryer later or fry them and freeze them so when you feel like patties, all you have to do it put in a microwave for couple of minutes.


Cooked Sri-Lankan fish patties using the air fryer


My daughter absolutely loves this snack. When we were in Thailand for 3 weeks in February 2018, she really missed the patties and kept asking for it towards the end of the holiday.


Hope you give these Sri-Lankan patties a go. Actually, GO ON… you know you want to! I promise, you won’t regret this a tiny bit.


Sri-Lankan Fish Patties (Empanadas)


Sri-Lankan Fish Patties (Empanadas)

A famous and very popular Sri-lankan 'Short-eats' (snacks), eaten on the go, for tea or breakfast, at a party or any gatherings and on a road. Basically, any excuse to eat these delicious crispy and flakey pastry (or empanadas) filled with spicy and savoury fish fillings.  

Course Appetizer, Snack
Keyword Patties, Empanadas
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12
Author Florita Balaskantha


For the Fillings:

  • 250 g Potatoes
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 1 Onion finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 2 garlic gloves finely chopped (or 1 tsp. garlic paste)
  • About 6 curry leaves
  • ½ tsp. Turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp. Cumin powder
  • ½ Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 300 g Sri Lankan canned Mackerel drained and broken into chunks without the bones
  • 1 ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 Lime juice

For the Pastry:

  • 300 g Plain flour
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 3 tbsp. Butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60 ml Coconut milk


To make the pastry:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, butter and egg york in a large bowl and mix them until the mixture turns into crumbs
  2. Gradually pour the coconut milk (or water instead of coconut milk) bit by bit while kneading the mixture. Kneed well until the dough is soft and pliable.
  3. You may need to add extra water or flour to get the right consistency.
  4. Wrap the dough in a cling film and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Break the dough into half or quarter (depending on the quantity) and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/2cm thin.
  6. Use a pastry cutter or any other circular item with sharp edge to make circles about 5-6cm in diameter but it’s up to you how big you want the patties to be.

To make the Fillings:

  1. Boil potato with the skin.
  2. Peel the skin off and mash the potatoes slightly. This will stop the potatoes absorbing too much water and becoming too mushy.
  3. On a skillet, bring the oil to hot temperature and add onion, curry leaves, green chillies and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and pepper and cook for further 2 minutes.
  5. Add the canned mackerel (bones removed) into the pan and cook for further 2 minutes. The fish is already cooked, so no need to cook for longer.
  6. Add the slightly mashed potatoes into the pan, mix well and cook for further 2 minutes.
  7. Squeeze in a lime juice and take the pan off heat to let it cool down to room temperature.

Adding filling to the pastry:

  1. Place about 1 tablespoon (or more, depending on the size of the pastry circles) of the fish mixture on one of the pastry circles.
  2. Lightly beat the egg whites.
  3. Dip a finger in the egg white and apply it on the edge of the pastry circle.
  4. Fold the pastry over to make a half-moon shape and gently press together to seal.
  5. Using a fork, press along the edge of the circle to seal the pastry.

Frying the patties using Air Fryer:

  1. Place the patties in the Air fryer
  2. If you want your patties crispier, you can use oil spray; about 2 sprays for the contents in the air fryer basket.
  3. Cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on your air fryer and the thickness of the pastry).

Let me know your feedback and comments below. If you have tried this recipe at home, tag me @mamaflosdiary, on your instagram pictures. It will be great to see your version 🙂


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1 thought on “Sri-Lankan Fish Patties (Fish Empanadas)”

  • Hi Florita – I love patties, especially when our cook Ammé made them when I was a child in Ceylon. I now live in Auckland (NZ) and can buy these here, but since I do a lot of air fryer cooking, would like to try making some. One question – my air fryer is a digital 13ltr model with presets. Can you suggest what temperature and time I should use, please? Thanks, Sandy

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