The Complete Asian Cookbook
Alan Benson

Birthdays are celebrated with much enthusiasm in Sri Lanka and these popular savoury pastries are a 'must' for parties. The traditional pastry used for patties is a rather unusual one that uses coconut milk. You can also use a shortcrust pastry, if you prefer.

Patty pastry


Quantity Ingredient
300g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon beef dripping or butter
60ml thick coconut milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
oil, for frying


Quantity Ingredient
500g chicken thighs
500g beef rump steak or lamb leg chops
250g pork chops
125g bacon or ham
1 tablespoon ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
8 curry leaves
2 teaspoons Ceylon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 stem lemongrass, bruised
or 2 strips lemon zest
125ml thick coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
4-6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 egg white
coconut oil or vegetable oil, for deep-frying


  1. To make the patty pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the dripping with your fingertips. Add the combined coconut milk and egg yolk and knead lightly to a smooth dough. If necessary add a little extra milk or flour – flour varies in absorbency and it is difficult to be absolutely precise. Wrap the dough in baking paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Take one-quarter of the dough at a time and roll out very thinly on a lightly floured work surface. Use an 8 cm pastry cutter to make about 75 circles in total.
  2. To make the filling, put the chicken, beef and pork into a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain, reserving 375 ml of the stock. Remove the meat from the bones, discarding the bones, and cut the chicken, beef and pork into dice. Remove the rind from the bacon and cut into small squares.
  3. Heat the ghee in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and curry leaves and cook until the onion starts to brown. Add the curry powder, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, pepper and salt and stir well. Add the reserved stock, lemongrass and the diced meat. Mix well, cover, and simmer gently until the meats are tender and the liquid has almost evaporated. Add the coconut milk and dill, stir and cook uncovered until the coconut milk has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, discarding the lemongrass and curry leaves.
  4. Place 1 teaspoonful of filling in the centre of each pastry round. Top with a piece of hard-boiled egg, then wet the edges of the pastry with egg white, fold over to make a half circle and press the edges firmly together to seal. In Sri Lanka, the edge is always ornamented by pressing with the tines of a fork. Repeat until all of the pastry has been filled.
  5. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, deep-fry the patties, in batches, until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve warm.
The Complete Asian Cookbook
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