We Sri Lankans are known for our little teatime snacks, also known as short eats – probably because they take a short while to munch (?) or they are small in size (?), don’t take me too seriously, I’m only guessing 😉
These snacks are the Lankan equivalent of canapés, which would never fail to make an appearance at any party. I can still happily recall the days when my mom, sis, grandma and myself would sit in the kitchen making these little short eats, or the times we used to gather at my aunt’s place to prepare them ahead of the famous Sri Lankan ‘kiddies birthday parties’. They are a bit time-consuming, but oh so worth it! And they are also fun to make when you have company.
So without any more rambling, here’s a step by step pictorial guide to make your very own cutlets! It is a very forgiving recipe and you could add/adjust/omit anything to suit your taste buds.
Cast of Characters:
For the filling:
- A can of tuna (I insist on Sri Lankan tuna to make it taste authentic, but you could use whatever you have at hand, or even minced beef or chicken)
- Boiled and mashed potato
- An onion (or two) – chopped
- A bit of chopped garlic
- A few curry leaves – finely chopped
- 2-3 green chilies – finely chopped
- Salt, Pepper, chili flakes, chili powder (be as creative and daring as you wish)
- A bit of lemon/ lime juice
- Plain flour
- An egg
- Salt & turmeric powder
- Bread crumbs
- A saucepan
- A deep frying pan
- A slotted spoon
- A fork and a few bowls
- Season the canned tuna with all the spices (salt, pepper, chili powder/ flakes, pepper & the chopped up green chili & curry leaves
- Combine well while mashing the tuna chunks with a fork and add a squeeze of lemon juice (which I forgot to feature with my cast of characters btw!)
- Heat up a saucepan and add olive oil to it, followed by the onions and garlic. Let it Sauté till translucent and cooked.
- Next, combine the tuna mix with the onions and garlic and check for seasoning. Adjust according to your preference and mix in the mashed potatoes.
- Next form this mixture into little balls or flat disks.
- Next, make the batter for the crumbing process by mixing the flour, the egg with a bit of water while seasoning with salt and turmeric powder. It should have a runny consistency – much like a pancake batter. Tip: Making a batter with flour, rather than using just eggs would make sure the cutlets do not crack while frying.
- Then set up a little crumbing station like so and dip the cutlets first into the flour batter, then to the breadcrumbs while maintaining their shape.
- Lastly, heat up the oil in a deep little wok (I got mine from Sri Lanka!) and deep fry these beauties till golden.
- Once golden, transfer them to a paper towel using the slotted spoon and let it absorb some of the excess oil.
Annnnd you are good to go!
- These are awesome by themselves with a bit of ketchup or wedged in between a buttered slice of white bread!
- Also great as an accompaniment to rice & curry meals.
- Cutlets made out of minced beef is equally amazing. All you need to do is replace the canned tuna with beef and cook it along with the onions and garlic prior to mixing the mashed potatoes.
- Traditionally, the beef version takes a more cylindrical shape to distinguish.
- Below is a beef version I made long ago.
- Another variation would be to make egg cutlets by incorporating half a boiled-egg into the cutlet. The steps would be the exactly the same except use one half of a full boiled egg when shaping the cutlets.