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Isso Vade

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Isso vade are hugely popular in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka

While in Colombo and Negombo, Sri Lanka in January ’22, my wife and I enjoyed some amazing street food like these isso vade.

You need to let the lentils soak for at least 6 hours but preparing the isso vade is quite easy.

I think you’re going to love these just as much as we do. 

Isso vade

Isso vade topped tamarind sauce and veggies.

How is my recipe different to what you get in Sri Lanka?

The typical food stall will offer slightly smaller isso vade, topped with 3 – 4 small prawns.

The shells are left on as they are so small. That is how I usually make them too but this time I could only get jumbo prawns that had already be shelled.

They are also redder in appearance because of the amount of chilli powder used. I loved them but my wife prefers my milder version. 

Vade stall

Prepared isso vade in a vade stall in Colombo.

Make these isso vade your own…

You can use as much chilli powder as you like. Use much more if you want the real deal. 

You can also experiment with different sized prawns, shell on or off. You might also like to make smaller vade if you are serving a crowd. 


Step by Step Photos…

Ingredients for isso vade

Gather all your ingredients before starting.

Soaked chana lentils

Soak the lentils for 6 hours or overnight. Then strain and place in a food processor.

Ingredients ready to blend

Place the remaining vade ingredients except for the prawns in the food processor.

Paste for the isso vade

Here’s what the finished paste will look like.

Forming isso vade

Wet your hands with water and divide the paste into about 10 balls and then flatten slighly, pressing a prawn into each.

Frying vade

Fry in batches of about three. I use a wok as it’s easier to turn them over without losing the prawn.

Fried vade

Transfer the cooked vade to a paper towel or rack to drip any excess oil.

Isso vade

At this stage it will be difficult not to pick them up and start eating the steaming hot isso vade.

Isso vade

Top with salad veg and tamarind sauce to serve.

If you like these isso vade, why not try some other amazing Sri Lankan recipes?

Butternut Squash Curry
Black pork curry
Black chicken curry
Crab curry
3 Meat Curry
Eggplant (Aubergine) curry
Green Bean Curry

Yield: 4 - 6

Isso Vade

Isso Vade
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 2 cups split chana (gram) lentils, soaked for 5 hours or overnight
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 green bird’s eye chillies
  • 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 300g fresh raw prawns
  • Tamarind sauce
  • cabage, thinly sliced
  • carrot, grated
  • spring onions
  • tomato


  1. Soak the lentils in water for at least six hours or overnight. After soaking the dried lentils will be so soft you can smash them between your fingers. Strain the lentils and place them in a food processor with the remaining vade ingredients up to and including the curry leaves. Do not add any water. Just blend the lentils and other ingredients to a paste.
  2. Wet your hands with water and take a small handful of the paste out and form it into a ball. Then flatten slightly and place a prawn in the centre, pressing down firmly so that it doesn’t escape and go swimming when you place the vade in the oil. Repeat with the remaining paste and prawns.
  3. Begin heating about 5cm (2 inches) of oil in a wok or similar. It needs to be about 200c/400f. If you don’t have an oil thermometer, place a wooded chopstick or spatula in the oil. If sizzling bubbles from around the wood instantaneously, your oil is ready for frying.
  4. Fry the vade in small batches so that you don’t lower the temperature of the oil and fry, carefully splashing oil over the vade with a spoon until it is lightly browned and the prawn is cooked through. Repeat with the remaining vade.
  5. To serves, top with tamarind sauce or anything sauce you like really. I top my isso vade with hot sauce when I don’t have any tamarind sauce on hand. I always have hot sauce in the cupboard. Then serve topped with salad vegetable to your liking

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 87Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 476mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 8g

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Isso Vade

This is perfect snack food. Top with what you like.

I hope you enjoy this isso vade recipe. If you do give it a try, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

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