Pastels are served everywhere in Brazil and you'll find them served on the beach, at markets or during house parties. They aren't specific to any particular region and they come with all kinds of fillings: prawn, beef, ham and cheese, plain cheese, cheese and banana. This recipe is for prawn pastels, but you can fill them with whatever you like so why not experiment. Make ahead of time and freeze so when you have unexpected guests, simply fry them up. You can make them small for canapés or a bit larger to serve with a side salad for lunch or dinner.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (10 votes)


  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chilli
  • 2 cups chopped peeled and deveined prawns
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp birdseye chilli, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • salt, to taste
  • oil, for frying
  • lime cheeks, to serve


  • ¼ yellow capsicum, finely chopped
  • ¼ green capsicum, finely chopped
  • ¼ red capsicum, finely chopped
  • ¼ onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Garlic paste

  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  • 4 tomatoes


  • 1 kg plain flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 60 ml (2 shots) cachaça, vodka or white vinegar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) canola oil
  • 500 ml (2 cups) warm water

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 30 minutes            

Marinating time overnight

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Combine crushed garlic, finely chopped chilli and prawn. Chill overnight, to marinate.

To make vinaigrette, combine capsicum, onion, tomato, vinegar, oil and salt. Chill overnight.

To make garlic paste, blend ingredients to form a smooth paste.

To make passata, peel the tomatoes, blend together and strain to remove the skin and seeds. 

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Cook onion for 4 minutes or until starting to caramelise. Add garlic paste and birdseye chilli and cook, stirring, for another 1 minute. Stir in chopped tomato and cook for 3 minutes until flavours combine. Add prawn and 1 cup passata and cook for 2-3 minutes until prawn is almost cooked. Add the vinaigrette, coriander, tomato ketchup and salt to taste. Set aside while preparing dough.

Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the salt, cachaça, oil and warm water. (The cachaça creates the little bubbles in the dough when it's fried, giving it a crunchy texture.) Combine and firmly knead dough for 5-10 minutes or until elastic. Rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out dough to 2 mm thickness, dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Cut into any shape you like (circles are very traditional in Brazil and can be achieved using a round cookie cutter). 

Place rounds onto a work surface and spoon portions of prawn mixture into centres.

Combine egg and 1 tbsp water to create an egg wash. Brush onto edges of pastry. Fold over dough and press with the back of a fork to seal into half-moon shapes. Slightly flatten to ensure mixture does not burst from pastry. 

Add enough oil to a deep frying pan to reach a depth of 2-3 cm. Heat to 180°C. Fry pastels, in batches, for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Serve with lime cheeks.



• This filling can also be used in empanadas or stirred through fresh pasta for a simple meal.