Beef godambah

Beef godambah

Sri Lankan Flavours
Craig Wood

Street vendors in Sri Lanka make this short eat. They have bowls of oil holding the little balls of pastry waiting for you to request your favourite filling. This is a tricky recipe but if you take your time you will be well rewarded. You can use beef or chicken for this dish and there are other variations for the filling.


Quantity Ingredient
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
250g lean minced beef or chicken
1 teaspoon crushed dried chilli or chilli flakes
1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup leek, chopped
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
750ml vegetable oil

Roti dough

Quantity Ingredient
2 cups plain flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt


  1. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain off excess water and mash.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden brown – about 1 minute. Increase heat to high, add meat and brown it quickly – about 1 minute. Drain any excess liquid.
  3. Add the chilli, cabbage and leek and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are cooked. Drain any excess liquid. Add the potatoes to the pan and mix thoroughly. Add lime or lemon juice and season with pepper and salt, to taste, then set aside.
  4. Make roti dough: mix ingredients in a bowl to form a dough and knead for about 3 minutes.
  5. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest then break the dough into 9–10 pieces, each about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls.
  6. Place vegetable oil in a bowl and place the dough balls in the oil. The balls should sit, covered by the oil. The dough doesn’t soak up any oil – the oil simply helps when it comes to thinning the dough out into flat rounds.
  7. Working on a stainless steel top or a pizza tray, take a ball of dough and use your fingers to flatten it out until it is a circle the size of a dinner plate. Take a generous handful of the filling and press into a firm rectangle. Place it at the end of the dough circle closest to you. Fold the sides around the filling so they meet in the centre. Then stretch the short end of pastry closest to you and fold over the filling. Then roll the filling away from you, always thinning out the pastry in front of you and tucking in the corners as you go.
  8. Put a flat non-stick pan over low to medium heat. Place a parcel on the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes. Turn over to cook all four long sides, then stand upright and cook both ends. While you are doing this, continue making more cubes and add them to the pan as you go.
  9. Serve with a sweet or hot chilli sauce.


  • Instead of leek and cabbage, fillings can be made of peas and corn, spinach and pumpkin, carrots or sweet potatoes.

    Chop vegetables into cubes and boil but do not overcook.

    The mashed potato is essential to hold the mixture together; you can, however, substitute it for mashed pumpkin.

    You can also add 1⁄2 cup chopped coriander at the end for a beautiful flavour.
Sri Lankan Flavours
South East Asian
Southeast Asian
Sri Lankan
South-East Asian
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