Category Archives: Short-Eats



It’s coming up to Sri Lankan New Year and Mr C’s day care is holding a celebration. There are a few Sri Lankan kids and a Sri Lankan teacher so it’s a big deal this year. They’re making coconut rice onsite and dressing up in traditional garb.I was wracking my brain trying to think of an easy, uniquely traditional treat to make his friends….and then it came to me…kokis of course. Not only is it not too arduous to make, I thought there was a good chance that even the picky toddlers might enjoy them. It’s also gluten free, nut free and hopefully child-friendly.


Kokis is a traditional Sri Lankan snack, often served at Sri Lankan New Year. A crispy, cookie-like treat, made of coconut milk and rice flour and deep-fried till crispy. Of the many Sri Lankan treats that grace the New Year table, this is by far one of the easiest. It does require a kokis mould, made of metal, and attached to a long handle, which may be a deterrent. But, they are available in Sri Lankan spice stores in many places outside of Sri Lanka. If not, ask your kindly relatives in Sri Lanka to send you one, the next time the ask “what can we send?” .

A new mould will take a little “breaking in” and you may find the batter will stick to the mould for a little while. Keep at it, it ill eventually come good.

When Ammi made kokis, she always turned the last bit of batter into “chilli” kokis by adding chilli powder. Much as she’d done for her dad growing up. Chilli kokis go especially well with a nice cool beer or ‘lion lager’.  See below for my take on “chilli kokis”.



  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 egg
  • salt

For Chilli Kokis

  • I cup of kokis mixture
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper



In a bowl add salt to the flour and mix well.  Then add the egg and coconut milk into the flour and whisk until no lumps remain. The consistency should be similar to a thin pancake batter. Cover the bowl and keep it aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot place the Kokis mould in the oil for about a minute.


Carefully dip the mould in the batter, making sure that the mould is well covered on all sides, but not the top.

Place the now batter covered mould in the hot oil and hold in place for about 30 seconds. At this point, slip the kokis out of the mould, shaking slightly if needed, to loosen. Use a cocktail stick or skewer to prise the kokis away if it needs extra help. Fry until the kokis is golden and evenly coloured.



Pull out of the oil and drain well  before serving. Will keep in an air tight container for a few days.

I love to serve mine dusted with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar. It goes perfectly with a cup of tea.

Chilli Kokis


To make the chilli kokis mix the batter with all the spices and half the cayenne. Make as above and sprinkle with the remaining cayenne before serving.





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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Sri Lankan New Year

April 14 will mark Sri Lankan New Year this year. Sri Lankan New Year is an important time for all Sri Lankans. Full of rituals, and the signalling of a new beginning for all involved.

There are the rituals of cleaning the house and lighting the oil lamp adorned with a proud rooster. Traditionally the hearth stove would have been cleaned and only lit at an auspicious time to make Kiribath or milk rice. Traditional gifts of new clothes and given and received and visiting family begins in earnest. Villages have carnivals with traditional games and competitions and including a beauty pageant to select the most beautiful girl in the village.

In Australia we have tried to replicate this in our own way. There are smaller oil lamps, gas stoves scrubbed to shiny perfection and phone calls in lieu of visits. There are carnivals at Sunday schools with races and challenges and children are compelled to eat donuts hanging from strings as fast as they are able. Sweet meats and treats are often store bought and celebrations postponed to weekends when people are more available.

This year I’m collating some of my recipes that can fill your Avurudu table. Some are easy, other’s complex and time consuming me. My challenge is this, make one. Just one and let me know how it turns out.


Easy vanilla marshmallows that can be made in advance. You’ll never be satisfied with store-bought again.

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Butter Cake

Sri Lanka’s favourite cake.




Crispy, deep friend “swirls” of urid dal batter dipped in hot palm treacle.


Milk Toffee

Sweet and slightly chewy condensed milk toffee


Sri Lankan Pancakes

Uniquely Sri Lankan crepes filled with spiced, sweet, caramelised coconut.


Subha Aluth Avurudak Vewa! 


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Filed under Short-Eats, Sri Lankan Food, Sri Lankan Sweets, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Egg and Bacon Pastries



You know the family recipes that you’ve been making for years but can’t really trace? This is one of those. Something my mothers has made for as long as I can remember, something I make all the time and something whose roots cannot be traced to anything except great foodie memories.

This is a recipe that often comes out on holiday road trips. Something my mother would bake of a morning before setting off, pack into tupperware to be enjoyed at a service station between home and 1000km away.

It doesn’t need sauce, can be eaten without such refineries as plates and cutlery and it’s simply a matter of dusting off the crumbs before jumping back into the car.



  • 4-5 rashers of bacon (you’ll need about 24 pieces of bacon all up)
  • 4 eggs medium boiled
  • 3 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 egg to brush on top


  1. Preheat oven to 220C/400F. Line a baking tray with paper
  2. Cut the bacon into 5 cm strips and set aside.
  3. Cut the egg into halves and then divide each half into 3. Doesn’t matter if the eggs break apart, just put them back together when assembling.
  4. Cut the pastry sheets in half and then each half into 4 so you have 8 rectangles.
  5. Grab a piece of pastry and place a strip of bacon in the middle and place a section of egg and a sprinkle of onion on top.



  1. Brush egg along one edge and roll the pastry up to enclose.
  2. Brush top with eggs, cut a few slits for steam to escape.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and delicious.


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Filed under Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food

Chorizo Sausage Rolls




I’ve recently made a new friend who lives in the same “neighbourhood community” that we’re in now. Her daughter and Mister C are at the same daycare and have become fast friends. We met before we had officially moved, before our new addition joined us and before the real madness of life set in.  In fact, she was one of the people I texted when I headed off to the hospital to have little Miss M as we’d planned to catch up on the day itself. She kindly offered to let me call her up and scream in her ear if I needed.

When she finally did manage to visit us she bought a gift that signalled kinship, a set of “Jamie Oliver spice bottles”. When Mr Firehouse saw it, his first question was “how did she know?”. If you know me, or if you’ve read this blog for a while you would know that Jamie and I go way back. He’s not just one of my cooking heroes, his merchandise is everywhere in my house. There’s an entire shelf on my cookbook shelf (yes, I have an entire book shelf just for cookbooks) dedicated to just his books. Then she told me a story that solidified our friendship further, apparently she adored Jamie too, ever since her mother had taken her to MEET HIM! How could I not be friends with someone who had met Jamie?

As with many of my friends, we talk often of food and food related things. The subject of chorizo came up recently and she talked of her chorizo fried rice and I spoke of the recipe below. Something that I’ve made ever since I discovered unsmoked sausages at our local butcher when we lived in the Inner-West. I’ve recently re-discovered it at our new local, a butchery that is apparently famous for it’s sausages.

I’ve made these with chorizo but you really can make these with whatever your favourite sausage may be; Italian, lamb, chicken….go nuts people.



  • 500g unsmoked chorizo sausage
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry thawed
  • sesame seeds to sprinkle
  • I egg lightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 220C/400F. Line a baking tray with paper
  2. Take the skin off the sausage so you are just left with the meat. I find it easier to mash it a bit at this point so you can divide and portion easily.
  3. Cut the pastry sheets in half.
  4. Divide the sausage filling into 4 portions.
  5. Place eat portion on one long-side of each pastry sheet and form into a sausage shape. Brush the long side with a little egg and roll up to enclose.
  6. Cut each roll into about 4 and place on the baking trays. Seam side down.
  7. Brush top with eggs, cut a few slits for steam to escape and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and delicious.




Filed under Beef, Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork, Short-Eats

Spicy Beef Patties





I was cleaning out my freezer and made the awesome discovery of a box of these frozen from a couple of months ago. Yay. Suffice it to say, these spicy, delicious morsels freeze really well. They’re a labour of love but amazingly worth it.



For the pastry

  • 500g flour
  • ½ cup butter cold chopped
  • ½ lime juiced
  • ice cold water
  • egg yolk
  • extra flour for dusting

For the filling

  • 250g (1/2 lb) beef/pork mince
  • 1/2 small onion chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp. chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder (roasted)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium potatoes parboiled and chopped into small cubes
  • oil for deep frying


In a medium fry pan (skillet) place the mince and fry until golden. Add the spices. When the mince is brown add the onions, garlic and curry leaves. Fry until the onion is soft and add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are cooked through and have a bit of colour.  Leave the mixture to cool.


In the meantime.  Place the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer (or food processor)and add the butter. Mix slowly until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the lime juice and egg yolk and mix well. Now add the ice cold water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Leave the dough to rest for about 15 minutes.

Roll the dough till it’s about 1/4cm or 1/8inch of an inch thick. Use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking or use baking paper on your bench top. Using a pastry cutter or cup, cut circles from the dough. My circles were about 4 inches/10cm


Using a single circle at a time, place a tsp. of filling onto one half of the circle, keeping close to the middle. Brush egg white (or water if you prefer) along the edge and fold the pastry over, making a little crescent.


Now use a fork to press along the edges.


Deep fry the patties in hot oil until golden brown and crisp on the outside.



Drain well and serve with plenty of tomato or chilli sauce.

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Filed under Beef, Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food

Bourke St Bakery Style Sausage Rolls


A friend recently asked my what traditional ‘Aussie’ food was and my immediate reply was meat pies and sausage rolls. I don’t know that they’re uniquely Australian, the English eat pies after all.  But to me, pies and sausage rolls  speak of Australia. Hot pies in metal cases streaming out of the canteen, eating a sausage rolls at a party with flaky pastry covering your face and of course it isn’t the same without oodles of tomato sauce (distinct from high-fructose corn syrup laden tomato ketchup).

The best sausage roll I’ve had in Australia has to be the offering from the Bourke St Bakery. Flaky, crispy and buttery on the outside with a pork and fennel filling within. It’s amazing. Perhaps some of it’s inherent appeal lies in the fact that I’ve always eaten it on a sunny day in Centennial park followed by one of their amazing tarts. Bliss!

This is a version of that sausage roll with my homemade rough puff pastry which I made based on the recipe from here, Guy Awford’s blog. If you don’t have to go to the trouble of making the pastry, embrace it. Pampas is your friend.



  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 10g fennel seeds chopped
  • 1.5 thyme sprigs
  • 50g onion chopped finely
  • 50g celery chopped finely
  • 50g carrots chopped finely
  • 400g pork mince
  • handful of bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 sheets of puff pastry
  • egg wash for brushing- 1 egg and milk


In a small fry pan fry the garlic, onion, celery and carrot ( I chopped mine in the food processor) until soft. When the vegetables have softened add the thyme and fennel and cook for a few minutes. Leave the mixture to cool.


In a bowl combine the minced pork, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and cooled vegetables mixture. Use your hands to mix it all together.


Lay your pastry flat and make a sausage of mince about 2-3 cm from the edge of the pastry. Using your hands is the easiest way I’ve found to do this.


Now take the edge that is bare and wrap it over the sausage roll. Tuck the pastry in and keep rolling until you have wrapped the whole log of meat in pastry plus a little extra for the “seam”. Brush a little water at the edges to make it stick. Cut to your desired size at this point.


Eggwash the tops of the rolls and add a few fennel seeds on top. Place the seam down on a baking tray at bake in 350F/180C oven for 45 minutes.





Filed under Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork, Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Uncategorized

Maalu Paan


A few interesting factoids about growing up Sri Lankan in Australia.

  • You learn to eat chilli before you can walk
  • You learn to love really hot, really sweet tea in all kinds of weather
  • Mc Donalds is not approapirate road-trip food, Maalu Paan or any other form of “short-eat” is.

We grew up going away for holidays to exotic Australian towns (like Cowra, Nowra and Karuah) and every time we packed ourselves into the convoy of cars, each of our mums would pack a box full of short-eats. Maalu Paan (fish buns), vegetable rotis, fish cutlets or Chinese rolls to ward off the munchies.  There was no stopping off at Maccas, unless we needed the amenities. We stopped off at the side of the road, piled out of the cars and ate short-eats so spicy that it really didn’t matter they were cold. As kids, we hated it! We wanted chips, or burgers or nuggets. Now we  often have all of the above and sorely wish we could have maalu paan once again.




  • 75o g of plain flour
  • 60g butter chopped
  • 1tbsp. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tsp. dried yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 150 ml warm milk mixed with 150ml warm water


  • 2 tbsp. oil for frying
  • 400g canned tuna
  • 300g potato cooked, cooled and finely chopped or put through a ricer
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • A few curry leaves
  • 1 cm ginger finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 5cm stick of cinnamon
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 green chillis sliced or to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or to taste
  • egg and a dash of milk for egg washing


I made my dough in the kitchenaid, it’s easier that way but feel free to do it by hand.

Add the flour and chopped butter to the bowl and mix using the paddle attachment. You want the mixture to resemble breadcrumbs.


When it becomes crumbly in texture, add the egg, sugar, yeast and salt and mix. When the egg is evenly distributed, slowly add the milk. Stop adding the milk when the mixture comes together and forms a rough ball.

At this point, swap the paddle for the dough hook. (see below)


Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, until you’re left with a mostly smooth dough.


Spray the top lightly with oil, cover in a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.


For the filling add the oil to a medium sized frying pan and fry off the onion, curry leaf, green chilli, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and garlic. When the onion is soft add the drained tuna and fry for 5 minutes until the tuna is warmed through. Add the pepper and chilli flakes and taste. Adjust the spices to your taste. Remember that you still have the potato to add, so a little extra spice is a good thing to cope with the potato.


When the tuna is warmed through, add the potato and mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to cool right down.IMG_5789

The dough should have risen by now. Punch it down and divide it into 4 (half then half again). For large rolls, divide each 1/4 into 4, I decided to divide it  into 5 to make the rolls slightly smaller.

Fashion each portion into a ball, cover and set aside. Working with one ball at time roll into a nice round shape then flatten into a circle about 10 cm across.

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Place a tablespoon of mixture in the middle. This is a veg mixture I had, so don’t be alarmed that my fish has suddenly changed colour. Fold one side of the circle in towards the middle.

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Now fold the opposite side in so that you have a point at the top. Finally fold down the open end, into the middle, making sure you seal the mixture in.

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Place on a lined tray, sealed side down and eggwash.

Bake in a 350 fahrenheit (180 celsius) oven for 20 minutes, or until the rolls have a lovely brown colour to them.


These can be served hot or at room temperature but it’s essential to enjoy them with a hot cup of Ceylon tea. Once you’ve mastered the basic dough, go crazy with the filling. I’ve done butter chicken, plain vegetables or even a nice spicy dhal.


I also had about a cup of the fish filling left, I rolled it into balls, dipped them in egg and breadcrumbs  before deep frying them and we had some fish cutlets for tea!

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Filed under Fish, Meat/Fish Dishes, Short-Eats, Uncategorized

Masala Vadai


I’ve posted a similar recipe before; Dhal Wade, this is just an update on the recipe and some more detailed photos of the “how to” process. I’ve also decided that there is no agreed upon spelling for “Vadai” and have decided to go with a different spelling today.

Yield: This quantity made about 60 medium sizes vadais


  • 3 cups red lentils/channa dhal (I used red lentils, also known as mysoor dhal)
  • 6 tbsp. raw rice
  • 6 tbsp. urid dhal
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 small red onion
  • handful of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. maldive fish flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 3 green chillies
  • 3 tbsp. chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. unroasted curry powder
  • 2.5 tsp. salt


Soak the peas/lentils, rice and dhal for at least 4 hours.
Drain the lentils well and set aside a cup of of lentils. Using a food processor or blender, process the remaining lentils until it becomes a paste that sticks together. If you grab a spoonful, you should be able to form it into a ball or patty without it falling apart. Add a little bit of water as you’re blending, if you need. The more water you add, the more oil your vadai’s will absorb as they cook.
I use the pulse function on my food processor and usually blend in 2 batches. I blend one to a fine paste, and the second batch to a slightly coarser paste. I also use the food processor to chop the onions, ginger, curry leaves, chillies and coriander.
Combine the onion mix, the ground lentils and the whole lentils. Finally add the remaining spices and mix thoroughly.
Using your hands or spoons, form the mixture into patties. I make little quenelles using 2 spoons. I know this isn’t the traditional shape but it keeps my hands clean to turn the already frying vadais and there’s no need to wash my hands every 5 minutes. Feel free to make the traditional flattened patty shape.
Fry them in batches of 5-8 in a large wok or frying pan on medium heat until the vadais are crispy on the outside and cooked through. I usually test as I go.
Vadais are best served hot with a cup of hot sweet tea. If you’re storing them, reheat them in a 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) oven for 10-15 minutes to get that crispness back.


Filed under Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food, Vegetable Dishes

Dhal Wade

My parents are originally from the Sri Lankan mountain city of Kandy. We still have many relatives there and spend time on our family holidays there. Our main pot of call is Helpitiya, where my mother’s Aunty lives. There’s is a huge house, full of secret rooms and nestled in cool tropical forest.

They  are planters, like much of my family, and they have men and women who supervise the workers. These workers are often Tamil and possess amazing additional skills, one of them being cooking. One particular man made the most amazing wades. Crispy fried and spiced lentil patties.

He would come by the house in the afternoon with a silver tray of ground lentils, ground on a traditional mirisgala, no food processor in site.

If you’re curious as to how this would work, take a look here.

He would then set up a small wood fire out the back and fry these goodies up on demand. The skill required for this always amazed me. He was always able to control the temperature precisely so that the wade were crispy on the outside and cooked on the inside, never burnt, never underdone. Since it always takes me a few goes on the gas stove to master this, I’m always amazed


  • 2 cups yellow split peas / red lentils
  • 1 onion minced
  • Egg
  • Turmeric
  • Salt
  • Curry powder
  • Flour as needed
  •  Maldive fish (optional)


        Soak the peas/lentils overnight
        The next morning drain the water water and blend ½ the peas in a blender until broken up but not smooth (you want pieces for texture).
         Mix the blended and unblended half together. Add the egg , spices and onion (I mince the onions in a food processor). Mix  the dhal mixture and add flour (if needed) to make a firm paste that can be moulded into round patties. That is to say, add  flour if the mixture will not hold together or is too “liquidy”. Sometimes you need it, sometimes you don’t. Make the mixture into round patties about 2.5cm in diameter and about 1cm thick. I make these first and put them on a        plate.  If you’re busy, you can do up to this step and refrigerate, ready to fry later.
        Heat some oil in a shallow fry pan. When hot place 2-3 of the wade in and fry until golden. Deep fry in hot oil till golden  brown and cooked on the outside.

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Filed under Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Vegetable Dishes