As the train pulled into Peradeniya Junction station in central Sri Lanka, the man sitting across from me jumped out of his seat and leaned out the window, put his thumb and forefinger in his mouth and whistled loudly. One mature The salesman soon appeared outside, removing a basket from the top of his head and handing it to the passenger. The man quickly pulled out a fragrant donut along with a small bag of sambol, left the money, then passed the basket on to the other hungry passengers, who did the same before returning the basket to the merchant over. window.

As the train drove away, everyone settled back into their seats and was pleased with what I later learned. it goes: lentil rolls topped with fresh shrimp and deep fried to create one of the best street food you can find on an island.

Isso (shrimp) vade (pattie) are loved all over Sri Lanka, and their popularity is probably due to the very familiar and simple ingredients: lentils and shrimp along with onions and curry leaves. Tossed with a spicy sambol – made with chopped onions, tomatoes, green peppers and lime juice – plus chili sauce for added flavor, each fritter has the perfect balance of textures. Crispy, aromatic and spicy. And at 50 to 70 Rs (12p to 18p) each, they’re a cheap, tasty treat for the masses.

The most famous isso vades are sold from carts along Galle Face, a seaside promenade in Colombo. Every evening, as a gentle breeze winds across the Indian Ocean for miles, finally touching land and cooling the city, thousands of people gather here to spend time with family and friends. They walk up and down the promenade, determining the size of each isso vade seller to decide who has the best stock – usually the one with the largest number.


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