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Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets: A Delicious Party Food!

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Try as hard as I can, but when December rolls around, I have a hard time from keeping my brain from turning onto holiday mode! Even when I try desperately to focus at a Monday morning meeting at my 9-5 job, all that my brain seems to wanna focus on is how many vacation days do I have left? Somehow, planning delicious party food for my daughter’s birthday (which was this past Saturday) and Christmas lunch – makes me want to spend more time with the ones I love and less time away from them. If only I could convince my boss to let us telecommute for all of December; or, (even better) maybe add on 16 more days to the 7 we are scheduled to be off for, at the end of the year- I mean what are 16 more days between employer and employee-right? I think, if I were to bring them a plate of these Sri Lankan Cutlets, I could bribe convince them! #SeasonedGreetings


Growing up, every Christmas, every birthday, and just about every holiday, my mom would make one of my all time favorite holiday party recipes – Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets. Crispy on the outside, with a tender and delicious filling of tuna and potatoes and spices, these cutlets were a treasured commodity! A couple of years ago, when my cousins and sister and all of us got together for Christmas here in Atlanta, things got ugly around my mom’s stash of cutlets! There was hiding of cutlets, lying about how many were consumed and (since I am a slow eater) just, plain, downright rude, stealing of cutlets off MY PLATE!!! GAH – the things we forgive for family!!!


If my mom knew there was someone who would be at our dinner table who didn’t like fish, or there would be people around who would not like the smell of fish, she would substitute canned chicken or ground beef for canned tuna. Many years ago, when my parents took my sister and I on a family train ride from where we lived in Colombo (Sri Lanka) to picturesque Kandy, my mom would make sure to pack chicken and beef cutlets, so no one else on the train would be revolted – of course, I would rather they be revolted than compliment her on them, which led her to sharing some of OUR stash – with THEM! Yes, I know, I need a lot of work on my sharing issues!


And me sharing this recipe is evidence of me working on my issues {just don’t ask me to share the finished product – unless you will use them to convince my boss about adding those vacation days on 😉 }


For my version of my mom’s “a pinch of this-a dash of that-and a shake of the other” recipe, I substituted out her green chilies with Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce, which I picked up from my neighborhood Kroger. Tabasco’s Green Jalapeño Sauce enhanced the flavor of the cumin and paprika I used, without making these cutlets too spicy. I used the Green Jalapeño Sauce in the filling with the tuna, potatoes and spices as well as in the egg dipping. My daughter -who doesn’t share my love of all things burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth-off-spicy- took a taste and suggested we use the Green Jalapeño Sauce as a dipping sauce for the cutlets as well.

These cutlets – whether made with tuna or chicken or beef – would make a delicious (fought over) appetizer at any holiday party, and/or a wonderful everyday snack.


Now, I gotta figure out how I can convince my daughter that just because she is my hand model/taste tester, she does not get more cutlets than I do…



[Tweet “Crispy and delicious Sri Lankan cutlets – a perfect holiday appetizer or everyday snack! @RunninSrilankan #SeasonedGreetings”]


Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets: A Delicious Party Food!

4.50 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Author: Shashi


  • 1 potato boiled
  • 1 5 oz can of tuna or 5 oz can of chicken or 5 ozs of ground beef or turkey
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 a Jalapeño seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs to coat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Green Jalapeño sauce
  • Oil of choice for frying


  • Place the oil in a deep pan and place on stove to heat up
  • Mash the potato
  • Drain the tuna well and add it to potato
  • Add the garlic, jalapeño, onion, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Green Jalapeño sauce to the tuna and potato mix and combine well
  • Form into balls and flatten slightly
  • Mix 1 teaspoon Tabasco Green Jalapeño sauce and 1 egg white together in a bowl
  • Dip tuna and potato balls into egg and Tabasco Green Jalapeño sauce mix and then into breadcrumbs
  • When oil is heated, drop cutlets into it and fry till golden
  • Can be served as is or with Tabasco Green Jalapeño sauce or Tabasco Original Red, or Tabasco Chipotle flavored sauce to dip in.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Tag @SavorySpin or tag #savoryspin so we can share your ceation.


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Recipe Rating

  1. […] served with some curried eggplant, potatoes theldala (aka a dry curry like this), chicken curry, cutlets, boiled eggs, chutney, and some sambol (aka salad). But, my mom’s yellow rice was so […]

  2. […] it came to Sri Lankan Short Eats, the simple fish cutlet (or croquette) has always been my favorite. Not only are they super simple to make but they are […]

  3. […] trying to douse a bowl of roasted garlic pumpkin soup with TABASCO® Chipotle Pepper Sauce or dip Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets into a pool of it on her […]

  4. nagimaehashi says:

    Well. This is just about the MOST interesting thing I’ve ever seen made with canned tuna! I came over to find some Sri Lankan recipes to try and I believe this will be the first one!

  5. Emily says:

    This looks delicious! Perfect for New Year’s Day. I’m grabbing some Tabasco Green Jalapeño my next trip to the store! #client

  6. Oh man what a great party food idea! I’m all about apps!!! And I’m all about a good hot sauce… I’m gonna have to be on the lookout for the green Tabasco!

  7. Kelly says:

    Hope your daughter had a wonderful wonderful birthday! Aaw I know what you mean, it’s hard to stay focused this time of year with so many things going on. Having some of these delicious fish cutlets would help me concentrate better though 🙂 They look incredible and I love all the flavors! Love that they are bite-sized too, that means I can totally have more!

  8. cottercrunch says:

    i just saw your cheese cutlets you posted and now i don’t know which one to make! gah…. so many good flavors woman!

  9. Kim says:

    These look awesome!!! (and I know all the ingredients again:)
    Happy birthday to your daughter – always fun to celebrate another year with our kids!!

  10. cheri says:

    Hi Shashi, my grandmother use to make something very similar when we were growing up and there was no hint of a recipe, thanks for sharing. Pinned and printed.

    • Shashi says:

      Aww- your are so welcome – this or some version of it has been in my family -and probably in a lot of Sri Lankan families- for ages! Thank you Cheri

  11. these look delicious and what a great flavour combo!

    – laura from

  12. ifailedfran says:

    This is so cool! Never would’ve thought to serve some fish as an app at my Christmas party! But this does sound so yummy and I would love to have something different!

  13. Haha, she should get more 😉 It was her birthday after all, haha! XOXO

  14. These look so incredibly flavorful! Love these perfect little bites! Pinned 🙂

  15. Tara says:

    Tomorrow night I was planning on having tuna and mashed potato after my workout (I need to eat in a hurry!), but I’m totally going to make this instead!

  16. What a perfect holiday appetizer. Love fish in any way, shape, and form! It’s SO hard to focus during the holidays!!

  17. spicedblog says:

    Woah! What a unique (and awesome) recipe, Shashi. It’s only 8:30am, and I am totally craving these tuna cutlets. I need to stop reading your blog in the morning…because then I’m just hungry all day! So about this sharing issue. I think I can help. How about you send me 2 batches of these cutlets. Why two? Well, we both know my mail-lady will steal (uh, I mean lose) one of them…but then there will still be another one for me! I’m thinking I might have to fight your daughter for 2 batches of these, though. Haha. Oh, and Happy (belated) Birthday to little Shashi! 🙂

    • Shashi says:

      Hey now – it’s not really fair that I have to read about your speculous cookies and chocolate dipped shortbread cookies with a measly bowl of oatmeal in front of me right???
      Way I see it – there’s only one real solution – I think I am gonna moonlight for the Sarotoga Springs postal service and start confiscating ALL the packages you try to send out – Clearly I need your mail-lady’s gig! And I need fleece lined apparel! 😉

      Btw – thanks David – little Shashi had a wonderful 16th birthday – when you and Laura have kids, be ready for time to fly by faster than ever before!

  18. Kishani says:

    How much could this recipe make?

  19. Hey, my brain turns to Christmas as soon as Halloween is over…we put our tree up on Nov 1…so you’re good!
    You know what’s also good? These fish cutlets! I have never tried anything like them, but they sound bomb dot com girl! Pinned!

    • Shashi says:

      Hahaha! I remember seeing that picture of yall’s tree on Instagram – that picture led my daughter to insisting we put ours up too – then she threw the “oh I have only 2.5 more years before I go to college so you cannot deny me” tidbit – geez!!! There used to be a time when I could distract her from anything with food – those days are gone!
      Thanks so much sweet lady!

  20. These sound fantastic – I’m always looking for new appetizers to try. I bet people would be fighting over these!

  21. Min Kwon says:

    Haha my brain is def unwilling to cooperate with me lately as well. There’s something very similar to this in korean cuisine that is panfried. mmm…so comforting!

    • Shashi says:

      Thanks Min – I am intrigued about the Korean pan fried version – I’ve tried baking these before but have not been successful in duplicating the taste/texture exactly….

  22. Oh yes, I know all too well about the “cutlet wars”. I have to equally divide them out before any are consumed so everyone has their equal portions. My son gobbles his all up… my daughter savors them. You can see how that is just a fight waiting to happen. I try to make them once a month because they are so loved and the kids even take them squashed inside buttered bread for their lunchbox. Love this post… brought out a lot of fun memories for me. 🙂

    • Shashi says:

      Haha – Ramona – that is indeed a fight waiting to happen!!! I guess if I made these once a month too they won’t be so fought over?
      Thank you so very much, btw.

  23. Yes, my Sweetness…your sharing skills need an intervention! How could you deny me these little bites of tuna happiness? !
    I’m all aboard trying to convince your boss to give you a month long vacation, though. How else will we ever find time to meet in person? !

    • Shashi says:

      Haha – Becca – when we meet I will hand deliver a dozen…er maybe 6 – or for sure 2 (I might get hungry on my travels) to you! Deal? 😉
      Hey -thank you!
      And on a serious note – you planning on going to Blogher 2015 in NYC?

      • Becca Heflin says:

        Isn’t it funny how traveling causes SO much hunger??
        I’m attending my first ever blogging conference next year, but it won’t be BlogHer. I’ll be at Eat, Write, Retreat in Chicago in June. I’d love to see you there!

  24. Howie Fox says:

    So many tabasco sauces! I’m happy if I find just the regular version in the supermarkets here, haha.
    Great recipe for the New Years Eve party, thanks!

    • Shashi says:

      Thanks Howie! I am so sorry y’all dont have a variety of Tabasco readily available over there – but these can be made with spices – like my mom does – they taste delicious either way!

  25. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    I have everything this delicious recipe requires! They look fingerlickingly good!

  26. Khushboo Thadani (@KhushbooThadani) says:

    Mmm these sounds awesome Shashi! I’m not usually a fan of canned tuna but in cutlet form, I think I’d love it…even better when it’s straight from your kitchen ;)! Have you tried the Chipotle flavoured tabasco? If not, you need to get your hands on a bottle asap…SO relish!

    • Shashi says:

      Aww you are so sweet – thanks lady! Btw, you can use chicken or ground beef or ground turkey instead of tuna – my mom has made these before with ground beef and chicken and I loved them though I don’t even like beef! Yes, I did try the Chipotle Tabasco – freakin phenomenal!!!

  27. My mother made these too! Both the tuna and the beef ones. They are delicious and she always knew to make plenty. You know, they’re great squished inside of sandwiches? Yum. Yours look so good I’m craving them now… And I’m in bed. Dang it.

    • Shashi says:

      Nazneen – we used to eat them with bread and butter too – one of my cousins would squish them into a sandwich – but I would take a bite of cutlet and a bite of bread as I didn’t want to squish the cutlet!
      Thanks so much Nazneen – so nice to hear that cutlets were not just popular in Sri Lanka!