A walk along the Galle Face Green brings back a lot of memories. The afternoons spent playing ball or run and catchers, and flying colourful tailed kites… The times may have changed, the green may have turned greener, but one thing stays the same: the men and their food stalls.
What do these little stalls hold? Small gas cylinders, large vats of oil and tray upon tray of half of that delicious, deep fried island specialty: isso wade.
Oval in shape, red in color and made of a mixture of gram flour, chilli, and spices, these prawn cakes are round and flat and usually have two or three long prawns pressed onto it – with the heads still intact. They are deep fried halfway, and placed on trays to be re-fried before being served. The savory cake can cost anything between Rs. 25 and 50.
Once fully fried, the aroma of fried prawns hits you point blank. The cake is served on a piece of paper, with a combination of carrot, onions, green chillies and lime and a zesty chili sauce on top of the prawns. Biting into the cake is a crunchy affair. The cake and prawns being deep fried, they’re always crisp, and that zesty sauce and mini salad on the prawn cake almost brings those crunchy dry prawns back to life.
The sauce and the combination of carrot, onion, chili and lime usually varies from vendor to vendor. The best version of the Isso Wade is to have it with both dressings. Biting into these little cakes, you can taste the tart chili sauce, the lime and onion fuse with the fried prawn and crispy base cake, – it all generates the sensation of a mini bomb imploding inside your mouth.
This is pretty much one of Sri Lankas top street foods: the humble Isso Wade.