Pillowy soft, delicious bread buns with a flavor-packed, spicy, satisfying, curried beef filling, and a great meat filling to bread ratio – these Sri Lankan Curried Beef Buns (Sri Lankan Mas Paan) are perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer/snack!
Stuffed bread is legendary in Sri Lanka. It’s both comfort food and convenience food. The most famous and favorite of all is the Fish Bun, known as Maalu Paan (maalu = fish, paan = bread). Soft, fluffy bread rolls shaped like triangles, stuffed with a spiced fish and potato filling. What’s not to love? Another type of stuffed bread that I love to make and eat would be these Curried Beef Buns! A spicy, flavorful beef curry stuffed inside soft, freshly baked bread. It could serve as an appetizer, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, you name it. These curried beef buns are loved by all!
The flavor-packed spicy beef curry filling
In Sri Lanka, these are called Mas Paan, where mas = meat and paan = bread, as I mentioned before. So you can use beef, chicken, pork, lamb, goat etc. as the meat filling. The filling is also sometimes mixed with potatoes, but I actually prefer these curried beef buns with just the meaty filling.
The Bread for the Curried Beef Buns
The bread that I use for these meat stuffed buns is my hot dog bun recipe. It’s a versatile recipe that makes soft, delicious bread rolls for hot dog buns, hamburger buns etc. So it’s perfect for these curried beef buns as well. The dough is really soft here, so if it’s too sticky, you will need to flour your hands to make it easier to handle it and shape it.
I prefer to let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, because the chilled dough is easier to handle and less sticky. So it’ll be easier to portion and shape the chilled dough the following day.
This bread recipe contains egg and milk. You can substitute the milk with more water, OR a plant based milk if you are lactose intolerant. You can substitute the butter with vegetable oil, coconut oil or canola oil as well.
Since this isn’t a vegan or vegetarian recipe, I’m hoping that you won’t have a reason to leave out the egg. The addition of the egg and milk helps soften the dough, so it’s an important step. However, if you absolutely have to leave out the egg as well, you will need to add a little more water to get the right consistency – maybe about 3 to 4 tbsp.
I use AP flour for this meat stuffed buns recipe because I prefer a really soft bread. But if you’d like to use bread flour, that’s totally fine too. You may need to add extra water or milk to get the right consistency again, so keep an eye on the dough to get that slightly sticky, and shiny smooth ball of dough.
Using a stand mixer makes the whole process easier. If you’re using your hands to knead the dough, make sure ti lightly dust your work surface and hands so that the dough doesn’t stick too much.
Notes on the curried beef filling for the Sri Lankan mas paan
As I mentioned before, you can substitute the beef with pork, chicken, lamb or goat meat. The cooking time may vary according to the pan that you’re using, since you’re cooking the meat filling until the liquid has completely evaporated. So it’ll take longer to cook in a smaller pan (because larger surface area means faster evaporation – science bitch! 😉 )
You need a dry curry filling here to get perfect results. So whether it’s water (like a gravy/sauce), or oil, there shouldn’t be liquid in the filling, because the bread dough could soak up that liquid while baking, creating a soggy mess.
If you DO somehow end up with an oily curry, simply scoop up the oil and discard it. OR, add some chopped, cooked, floury potatoes. Potatoes can easily soak up some of that oil too.
Options for the curried beef filling
- I used the recipe for my popular spicy black pork curry to make this beef curry filling. We love the peppery, spicy curried filling for these meat stuffed buns.
- But you can also use the curry recipe that I used here as well, but make sure to NOT add any extra liquid or coconut milk, to keep the curry dry.
- Another option is the beef, potato and pea curry filling that I made for the stuffed beef roti here.
Should I use ground meat (minced meat) or meat chunks?
Depends on your preference.
Meat chunks – If you use meat chunks, you need to start with smaller pieces of meat, so that you can actually stuff the bread with the meat. So it can be a little tedious to cut the meat into smaller chunks, and because they are chunk, it’ll be a bit harder to add more filling inside the buns too. However, this is what I prefer, because I like the texture of soft, meaty pieces of the beef filling inside these curried beef buns. It’s more satisfying than ground meat.
Ground meat – This is the easier option because the meat is already ground and you don’t spend time cutting the meat. You can also add more filling. Just make sure to buy LEAN ground meat so that you don’t end up with a lot of fatty oil when you cook the meat filling.
What if I don’t like spicy food?
This curry is spiced with A LOT of black pepper. If you don’t like black pepper, you can certainly reduce the amount of the spice that you add. I wouldn’t recommend removing the black pepper altogether though.
Tips on how to fill the buns properly – with no torn edges, seams or under filled beef stuffed buns (see the photos above)
This bread dough is soft and stretchy. Use your hands to flatten out the bread dough to a circle, with the edge thinner than in the middle. Next, cup the bread dough piece in your palm, add add 2 heaping teaspoons (regular teaspoons, not measuring teaspoons) of the filling in the center. Since the dough is stretchy, you can press the filling into the middle. Your cupped palm will help keep the filling in place.
Next, stretch the dough over the filling and pinch it together to seal. Since the dough is sticky, it should seal easily. If not, then use a dab of water to help seal the dough. After the edges have been pinched together, roll the bun around in your palm a little, to smoothen out the seams/edges.
Then place the filled buns in the prepared pan with the seam side down.
These curried beef buns are super versatile!
We enjoy eating these Sri Lankan mas paan any time of the day! You can even make a double batch and refrigerate or freeze them for later. These beef stuffed buns taste delicious warm, OR at room temperature.
Breakfast – these meat stuffed buns are perfect as an on-the-go breakfast.
Lunch – these are a great alternative to your sandwich. These are a very popular lunch time meal in Sri Lanka.
Snacking – perfect road trip snacks. Next time you hit the road, make a big batch of these spicy curried beef buns and pack them in boxes. They travel well and are not messy at all, while saving you a trip to a fast food restaurant.
Dinner – these are also perfect as a light dinner option, with maybe a side salad.
If you love curries, and meat stuffed bread, or want to try a slice of Sri Lankan cuisine, these Sri Lankan mas paan (curried beef buns) are a great place to start!
Sri Lankan Curried Beef Buns (Mas Paan)
Curried Beef Filling
- 2 lb beef chuck or sirloin, cut into small pieces, OR lean ground beef
- 1 inch of peeled ginger minced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- ½ medium onion chopped finely
- 4 tsp black pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp of Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder
- ½ tsp salt, or more to taste
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tsp concentrated tamarind paste
- 2 - 3 jalapeno peppers chopped (or 2 - 3 serrano peppers if you prefer more heat)
- 17.6 oz AP flour
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm milk
- ½ cup warm water plus an extra ¼ cup if needed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp oil/butter
- Extra oil to oil the bowl
- 1 egg for the egg-wash
Curried Beef Filling
- Cut the beef into small pieces - about 1 x 1 cm (more or less).
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced ginger, garlic and onion. Saute for about 30 secs to 1 min, until the onion softens.
- Add the roasted curry powder, black pepper, salt and sugar and mix to combine.
- Add the chopped or ground beef and tamarind paste. Mix to combine well. Cook on medium-high heat while stirring frequently.
- As you’re cooking the beef, there'll be some liquid released into the curry. Keep cooking until the liquid evaporates. This should take about 20 - 30 minutes, depending on the heat, and the pan that you’re using.
- Taste, and add more salt. Add the jalapeno and stir to combine. Cook for a further 5 minutes to soften the jalapenos. Allow the curry to cool down completely before using it to fill the dough.
- Place the first 7 ingredients in the mixer bowl of your stand mixer. Use a dough hook or wooden spoon to mix the ingredients until combined. You can use the paddle attachment in your mixer to do this as well.
- With a kneading hook, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky (not sticky). If the dough is too dry, you can add the extra water, 1 tbsp at a time, while kneading the dough.
- Add the 2 tbsp butter or oil and knead for a further 5 - 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, soft, tacky dough.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the fridge to let it rise overnight.
- The next day, remove the chilled dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough gently with your hand to remove some of the air in the dough.
- Divide the dough into 12 portions. You can divide the dough by weighing it - about 70 to 73 g per portion. OR you can roll the dough into a log with even thickness, and cut it into 12 equal sections.
- Gently knead each portion to form a smooth ball (about 45 sec - 1 min, don't over-knead the dough).
To make the Beef Buns
- Line 1 half sheet pan, and 1 quarter sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Flatten each dough ball into a circle using your hands. With your fingers, pinch the edges to create a thinner edge than in the center.
- Place the dough circle in the cupped palm of your hand. Take 2 heaping teaspoons (regular teaspoon, NOT measuring teaspoons) of the spicy beef filling and press it gently into the middle of the dough (the dough will stretch out slightly as you do this).
- Stretch the edges of the dough over the filling, and pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. When this is done, gently roll the bread roll in your hands to make it smooth and to properly seal the roll (see pictures in the post).
- Place the buns on the sheet pans with the sealed side down. Space them out well. You can fit 9 on the half sheet pan, and 3 on the quarter sheet pan.
- Cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and allow the buns to proof for 30 - 45 minutes, until they double (or 1.5x) in size.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) while the buns are rising.
- When the beef buns are ready to be baked, whisk the egg in a small bowl for the egg wash. Remove the plastic wrap gently and brush the tops of the buns with a light coating of the egg wash.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 - 30 minutes, until the buns are a beautiful golden brown in color.
- Remove from the oven and allow the buns to cool down slightly. These buns are best eaten warm, or at room temperature.
- Store uneaten bread buns in an airtight container, and in the fridge for a couple of days, or in the freezer for longer.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”
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