This is a version of a Sri Lankan short eat, a spicy morsel to snack on to whet your appetite as you have a pre-dinner drink. These are great for parties and are best eaten at room temperature.






Skill level

Average: 2.9 (42 votes)


  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 large French shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2–3 small green chillies, finely chopped (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp finely sliced curry leaves
  • ½ tsp unroasted Sri Lankan curry powder (see Note)
  • 200 g cooked spanner crab meat
  • 180 g cooked and finely mashed potato (best put through a ricer)
  • 60 g ricotta
  • 1 tsp finely chopped dill
  • flour, for dusting
  • 140 g breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml milk
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • river salt and black pepper, to season

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.


Heat a small frying pan on medium heat and add the ghee. Heat until melted. Add the shallot, garlic, chilli, curry leaves and a little seasoning. Cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring constantly, before adding the curry powder. Cook for another minute or so or until you can smell the spicy aromas. The mixture should still have a little crunch. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, place the shallot mixture in a bowl with the crab, potato and ricotta. Taste for seasoning and mix through the dill.

Use your hands to roll the mixture into small balls, about 20 g each. The mixture will be quite soft.

Place flour and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl. Gently roll the balls in the flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to the egg mixture, remove and drain off excess liquid. Finally, roll in the breadcrumbs, making sure they are completely covered. Set aside in a single layer.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan filled with 6–8 cm of oil. Heat  to about 170°C.

Fry the cutlets, in batches, for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. They should form a crust on the outside and be warmed through. If cooked for too long they will start to split.

Drain on paper towel. If you have the patience, allow them to cool to room temperature before you eat, otherwise eat them while still warm.



• There is no need to remove the seeds from the chillies. If you can’t find small green chillies, or prefer less heat, use an equivalent amount of long green chillies.

• The curry powder is available at Sri Lankan grocers, or substitute with an Indian version.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachael Lane.


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This recipe is part of The Seasonal Cook: Crab column.


View previousThe Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.