Fish Buns

Stuffed bread in Sri Lanka is legendary and these fish buns are the most famous and the favourite of all. These triangular beauties are perfect for on-the-go breakfast, quick lunches, snacks or picnic food. You will love the savoury fish filling nestled inside these soft buns and perfect when served along with a cuppa and some tomato relish. Canned fish along with potato, onion and mild spices make a flavourful filling, so this is the perfect opportunity to use up your canned fish that has been sitting in your pantry for a while. You can even make a double batch and refrigerate or freeze them for later. These frozen buns can stay in your freezer for 3 months.

The wonder of bread is you could fill it with almost anything you like so you can replace the fish filling with any other filling that you are fancy with.  The fillings can be beef, chicken, egg or just minced chicken or beef with cheese fillings. You can simply go with a vegetable filling too.

The dough contains egg and milk. So, if you are lactose intolerance, you can substitute the milk with more water or a plant-based milk and substitute the butter with margarine or plant-based butter.  If you are after a vegan-friendly version, you can skip the egg but the buns will not be as soft as if an egg was used. However, if you want to leave the egg out of the recipe, make sure to add a few tablespoons of water to get the right consistency.

I used a stand mixer to make the whole process easier but if you are kneading with your hands, make sure to lightly dust the work surface and hands so that the dough doesn’t stick too much. Now let’s see how these all-time favourite buns are made.


For the dough

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp milk powder
2 tsp instant yeast
4 tbsp melted butter
1 cup lukewarm water
1 egg
extra egg for egg-wash
1 tsp salt

For the filling

1 can of Mackeral in brine (425g)
2 large potatoes boiled and mashed with a folk
2 medium onions roughly chopped
2 long green chillies chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic and ginger paste
6-8 curry leaves finely chopped
4inch long pandan leave
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 ts Tumeric powder
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste


Bread dough;

  • Combine flour, milk powder, yeast, sugar, salt, water, 1 egg and butter in the mixer bowl of your stand mixer. Mix the ingredients using a wooden spoon.
  • With a kneading hook, knead the dough for about 6- 8 minutes until a soft and slightly tacky (not sticky) dough is made. If the dough is too dry, you can add extra water, 1 tbsp at a time or if the dough is too sticky add extra flour 1 tbsp at a time while kneading the dough.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a wet tea towel. Leave it aside for an hour or till the dough is almost doubled in size.


Fish filling;

  • Place a pan on medium heat and add oil.
  • When the oil is hot enough, add garlic ginger paste and fry for a few seconds and then add onions, chillies, pandan leaves and curry leaves.
  • Debone the mackerel, and mash it with your hands and then add to the pan. fry for about 3 minutes.
  • Add chillies, turmeric black pepper and salt and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Now, add the mashed potatoes and mix until well combined and cook for 5 more minutes. Turn the heat off.
  • Remove and discard the pandan leaves.

Filling the Buns;

  • After an hour, divide the dough into half. Roll each half into a log and divide each log into 6 equal pieces for buns.
  • Roll each ball of dough into about 8-inch circles and place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the centre.
  • Bring the upper right corner of the circle to the centre. Next, bring the upper left corner of the circle and overlap it, and slightly pinch the edges. Lastly, overlap the bottom part of the circle, slightly pinch to make a triangular-shaped bun (refer to above pictures).
  • Line a baking tray with a baking paper and spray some oil. Place the buns on the lined tray.
  • Beat an egg and brush on top of the buns.
  • Preheat the oven to 190° C and bake the buns till golden brown for 25 -30 minutes.
  • Serve warm along with a cuppa and some tomato sauce or relish.


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