Fillings for all occasions

In the Malabar region of Kerala, we make a lot of palaharams (snacks). These snacks welcome the guests to our houses, is a great tea time companion and are starters to a meal or a meal in itself.
Most of these snacks are stuffed with delicious fillings. Be it our samosas, cutlets, special kinds of pathiris or puttus we have stuffings or fillings for all of it.
Listing out some of the fillings that I usually make for my snacks.


Beef Masala

Beef masala is the simplest masala. Since we get boneless beef, it is the easiest to mince at home. We usually cook the beef with spices, drain out the water and then pulse it in a food processor to make the mince.

Beef – 500 gm
Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1tsp
Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

Before getting into any beef masala I do this process. Combine all the above ingredients and cook in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles on high heat and reduce the flame and further cook for another 2 whistles. If the beef is of good quality, this should do it. Just check after the pressure has gone down, if the beef has not cooked, cook for another 2-3 whistles. Once the beef cools down, drain the stock and pulse it a couple of times in a food processor or a grinder jar of the mixie. Make sure you are not overcrowding your machine. Overcrowding will make a paste of the meat and is a strain on the machine. Do it in batches, if needed.

filling-beef masala-1

Basic Beef Masala

Onion – 1 large
Green Chillies – 5 (can be up to 8 if you want the masala to be spicy)
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Pepper powder – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – I sprig
Coriander leaves – a handful
Coconut oil or any oil that you choose to use – 1 tbsp.
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions in it till it turns a light brown colour
Crush the green chillies and add to the sautéed onions and cook for a min
Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell of the paste is not there
Reduce the flame, add the spice powders except the pepper and cook for another couple of minutes
Now add the minced beef and mix it with the masala till all the minced beef is coated with the masala
Now add the pepper, curry leaves and coriander leaves.
Add the salt and adjust according to the taste
Let the masala cool.
This masala is great for filling samosas, erachi pathiri, athisaya pathiri etc
Increasing the spiciness of the masala and adding some potatoes to this, you can make cutlets too.


Chilli Beef Masala

Beef mince – from above
Onion – 1 large finely diced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp.
Green chillies crushed – 5-6
Soy sauce – 1 tbsp.
Red chilli sauce – 1 tbsp.
Pepper – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – a handful
Oil – 1 tbsp.

Heat oil in a pan and add the ginger garlic paste, sauté this for a min.
Add the green chillies and cook it off for another min
Now combine the diced onions and let it sauté in the pan till translucent in colour
Now add the beef and pepper. Stir around until beef is combined with all the things in the pan
Add soy sauce, chilli sauce and salt.
Stir and cook the beef in the sauces for 4-5 min
Add salt and adjust if required
Cut the coriander leaves very finely and add to this.
Cool this masala before filling your snacks
I recommend using this masala for spring rolls, stuffed buns and noodles


I use a whole frozen chicken with the skin on and without breaking it down to make my basic chicken mince. The marination of the chicken changes with the type of filling that I plan to make.

Whole chicken Frozen -1
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Salt – 1tsp

Defreeze and wash the chicken well. If you have a pressure cooker that can contain the entire chicken, then don’t break down the chicken. Make large incisions on thick parts of the chicken, like the breast thighs and legs. Leave the skin on the chicken, if the chicken you are using is not skinned.
Make a paste with chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt
Marinate the chicken with this paste, and leave it for 15 min to half an hour.
In a pressure, cook the chicken for 4-5 whistles. I know this sounds like an awfully huge amount of time for cooking chicken, yes, it is. But this will help to shred the chicken with ease
Once the chicken is cooked, take of meat from the bones. The meat will come off easily, since it is cooked really well.
If time permits, you can shred the chicken with your hands itself. To make things easier, I take out big chunks of the meat and put through my processor for a couple of pulses.


Spicy Chicken Masala

Chicken Mince (from above) – 250gm
Onion – 2 large finely sliced
Green Chillies – 7-8
Ginger – garlic paste – 1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Pepper powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig thinly sliced
Coriander leaves – a handful, finely diced
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp.

Heat oil in a pan, add the onions and sauté till it turns translucent
Add the green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 min
Add the turmeric powder and stir
Combine the shredded chicken to this and stir it so that it combines with all the masala
Let’s now add the garam masala, salt and pepper. You can taste now and adjust the salt and increase the pepper if you want the masala to be spicier
Cook the chicken for 6-7 min on a very low flame.
Stir in the leaves and turn off the flame.
Let the masala cool
This masala is what I use for my chicken version of samosas, erachi pathiri and athisaya pathiris

The thing with the chicken is the raw smell that tends to persist.
I usually cook the chicken till all the stock has dried out. I do this, if there is a lot of stock after its cooked in the pressure cooker.
One more thing I would suggest is to increase the amount of garam masala by a 1/4 tsp. if you feel there is a raw smell remaining. You can also increase the amount of curry leaves and coriander leaves.



Tuna Masala

Tinned tuna – 1 tin
Onion – 2 medium, finely diced
Ginger – garlic paste – 1 tbsp.
Red Chilli flakes – 3 tsp
Tomato – 2 medium ones, roughly chopped
Tomato paste – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – juice of half a lime
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, finely chopped
Boiled potatoes – 1, roughly mashed
Oil – 2 tbsp.
Open the tinned tuna and drain it in a fine strainer
Heat oil in a pan and add the onions
Sautee the onions, till translucent.
Add the red chilli flakes and sauté for 2 min
Now, combine the ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell goes away
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste.
Cook the tomatoes till the oil separates, add the spice powders and cook for 2 min
Add the tuna to the pan and stir it so that all the masalas combine with the tuna.
Cook this for 5 min on a low flame
Add the curry leaves and cook on a very low flame till the masala is very dry
Switch off the flame and add the lime juice. Stir to combine
Let the masala cool.
Once the masala is cool, combine the mashed potatoes to this mixture.
This masala is good for Srilankan patties

Chemmeen (Prawn Masala)

Prawns – 250 gm (diced into small pieces)
Chilli Powder – 1 ½ tsp, divided
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp, divided
Salt – ¼ tsp
Onion – 1 large, finely diced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2, slit lengthwise
Tomato – 1, chopped
Tomato paste – 1 tsp
Kodum puli (kokum) – 2 pieces, washed and soaked in warm water
Uluva (fenugreek) seeds – ¼ tsp powdered
Fennel seeds – ¼ tsp, powdered
Coconut – 5 tbsp.
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp.
Marinate the prawns in ½ tsp of chilli powder, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder and salt for half an hour
Heat oil in a pan or clay pot and splutter the curry leaves and green chillies
Sautee the onions till it becomes a translucent
Now add the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell goes away
Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and cook till the oil comes out
Add the chilli powder and turmeric powder and cook for a couple of minutes
Take about ¼ cup of hot water and pour in the pan, drain the kokum and add this to the pan as well
Now add the marinated prawns to the pan
Grind the coconut with fennel seeds with a very little water
Add it to the prawns.
Cook for another 5 min and add the powdered fenugreek to this and switch off the flame

This masala is great to make meen ada, meen putt and stuffed idiyappam.

I will keep adding to this post with different fillings that I make. So keep a look out on this post


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