Isso Vada / Shrimp n’ Yellow Split-Peas Fritter

Shrimp Yellow Split Peas Fritter on a table.

Lets take a walk down a calm beach, breathing in the salty air, wind gently touching your hair, waves crashing at our feet, then all of a sudden you feel that urge for a snack. You wonder, a quick bite that’s not too filling, but hot and spicy will be perfect to indulge in that moment. How about an Isso Vada, or the Prawn Fritter! And that’s how I am guessing; the famous beach side, street food special everyone drools over got invented back in Sri Lanka.

Two Shrimp Yellow Split Peas Fritters on a table.

The very first time I saw this beauty: it was in Sri Lanka, at the biggest urban beachfront in the country – “Galle Face Green“. There were so many tiny food-carts selling these hot snacks; and people were lining up to buy them. I didn’t get to taste one on that day, but I was determined to make my own one day and eat as many as I wanted.

The main ingredient that is needed for this Vada / Fritter, are the Yellow Split-Peas; or as some call it: the Yellow Lentil.

Kitchen aid Small food processor with Yellow Split Peas grind to paste.

But the star of these Vadas are the shellfish topping. The original version is made with Prawns; but, I will be making them with Shrimp instead. You can certainly use either the Shrimp or Prawns with this recipe, depending on whats available in your market. These are so easy to make, and pairs perfectly with a Black Tea.

Oh, and the red dipping sauce: I’ll tell you how to make that in another time.

Shrimp Yellow Split Peas Fritter on a newspaper sheet.

Isso Vada / Shrimp n’ Yellow Split-Pea Fritter

Makes 18-20 fritters | Prep Time 3 hrs | Cook time 30 mins

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups of yellow split-Peas
  • 15-20 medium deveined Shrimp
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoon dried Chili flakes
  • 8-10 Curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose Flour
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut oil to fry
  • Water

Directions :

  • Soak the Yellow Split-Peas in water for 2-3 hours.
  • Take 2-3 tablespoons of soaked Peas and keep aside in a separate bowl.
  • Grind the rest of the soaked Peas in a food processor until it becomes a fine paste.
  • Clean the Shrimp, and pat dry in a paper towel. Sprinkle some Salt and Pepper to give some flavor and keep aside.
  • Make a food glue by mixing Flour and sprinkle some Water and make it a thick paste.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Peas paste with, thinly chopped Onions, thinly chopped Curry Leaves, Fennel seeds, Chili flakes, then add the whole Peas that you kept aside, and mix well.
  • Heat the oil in a pan.
  • Just when the oil is heating up, add the salt to the mixture and combine well.
  • Take a Golf sized batter-ball and flatten it in the palm into a circle.
  • Add a drop of the food-glue you made to the middle of the batter-circle and stick one Shrimp.
  • Carefully fry the Vada / fritter one at a time. Half-way into the cooking, make sure to flip the Vada/fritter to the other-side and cook until lightly brown.
  • Rest the Vada / Fritter on a paper towel lined plate, and let it cool down letting it shed any excess oil.

Notes :

  • When grinding the Peas into a paste: do not add water. Once its ground well, the paste should be soft and smooth to the touch.
  • I like to clean my Shrimp in some Lemon-water or Vinegar mixed with water, for a quick dip and wash.
  • By keeping aside 2-3 table spoons of whole Peas and then adding them to the ground paste will give some nice texture and crunchiness to the Vada / Fritter once it is cooked.
  • To check if the oil reached its required temperature: drop a pea-sized batter dollop into the oil; it should float and fry rather thank sinking to the bottom.

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