To all the Sri Lankans in the house – remember these?

(PS excuse poor quality of photos… using iphone again instead of digital camera b/c computer is at capacity now after all high res photos taken during vacation to patagonia)

When I was little, any dinner party would have some combination of short eats: cutlets, patties, those rainbow sandwiches, chinese rolls and/or frikkadels.  These of course, are dutch in origin but are now quintessentially Sri Lankan and are savory meatballs that could be dry and chewy when made badly, but juicy, moist and flavorful when made perfectly.   I haven’t had these since those late-70s early 80s dinner parties, but a few years ago, I came across a New York Times recipe for “finnish meatballs.”  I read the recipe and realized that it was frikkadels with a little bit of a twist – namely gouda.  And cheese improves everything.  I made a few tweaks to hearken back to the Sri Lankan recipe as well and have come up with a delicious outcome.    We all have heard of swedish  meatballs, and the Times publicized the finnish meatballs, and here you will have Sri Lankan meatballs (and bit of our Dutch colonial legacy).


3/4 cup whole milk

3 slices white bread, crusts removed

6 ounces gouda – I used Beemster Vlaskaas, but you can use any mild gouda

1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

3/4 cup onion minced

1 garlic clove crushed

2 large eggs

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper (or to taste, I just grind a ton without measuring, but be generous, as you have to flavour a lot of meat)

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp finely grated ginger (can substitute with ground ginger)

a few dashes of worcestershire sauce

1 lb. ground lean beef

1 lb. ground pork (I’m sure you can substitute ground turkey or chicken; in fact, I’ve made similar with ground turkey and it was delicious – just add a bit more nutmeg)

some flour (1/4 cup? enough to dredge)

oil for frying (you’ll need about an 1 -2 inches of oil in your pan)


1. Warm milk until just steaming and then remove from heat and press the bread into the milk and set aside.

2. Grate cheese with the large holes on a box grater and put it in a large bowl.  Add all the ingredients except the meat into the bowl.

3.  Stir together, and then add the meats, and the soaked bread and with a spoon, or your hands, mix to combine.  Stop as soon as it  has combined, you definitely don’t want to overwork this mix or else end up with the dried chewy frikkadel variety.

4.  Form into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls.

Note:  I caution you to put on some nice music, sit in front of the TV or consider this your workout for the day because you will be rolling the frikkadels for a little bit of time – this amount of mix made me approx. 125 frikkadels!  I know!  So many!  But I froze most of them – just put them on sheets and freeze. Once they are frozen put them in a ziploc bag.  When you need them, just defrost slightly and move on to the next step.

5.   When ready, get your oil hot, and then dredge the frikkadels in flour and tap off excess.  If you had frozen your frikkadels, you can thaw them completely or if rushed for time, just thaw them enough so they’ll get the flour to stick on them prior to frying.  Beware of microwaving them b/c the cheese will melt.  This has happened to me, and I still fried them up and they were fine.  But it was a tad messy.

I used my mini cast-iron pan, and fried up a few for  a little snack to replenish my energy reserves after having made so many frikkadels.  Otherwise you can fry up a bunch at a time.

We usually serve them with toothpicks and eat them just like that, but if you’re familiar with swedish meatballs, and based on the NY Times’ finnish meatball article, apparently, after frying them, you can set them in a saucepan that has about a cup of vegetable or chicken broth simmering and let them simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, and then right before serving, add a drizzle of heavy cream. Serve with potatoes or pasta and some greenery.

Or you can put the fried frikkadels on a hamburger or brioche bun and melt some jarlsberg, or gouda, or any cheese of your liking on it and put a little redcurrant or lingonberry preserves and you’ve got yourself a frikkadel sandwich.

My Aunty Peppy even makes a curry with them – I think you slice up some garlic, onion, a cinnamon stick piece, a slice or two of ginger, put a few curry leaves, salt, pepper, a little chili and curry powder, if you want, and sautee ’til onions are soft.  Then add some frikkadels, and tomatoes and there you are!  Serve with rice of course.

Any way you have them, they are delicious.