Air fried Sri-lankan fish patties - side shot

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).