Akara – Ata

Akara is a fritter made from mashed/ground black eyed peas. Simply put: the beans are peeled, grounded, mixed with seasoning ingredients, and deep fried. Akara originated in West Africa, and migrated to many countries around the world, including Brazil where it is referred to as Acaraje. I think Akara is a good dish to get started with West African food, and I am excited for you to try it. Be sure to let me know what you think and how you like it.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups black eyed peas
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 thumb size ginger
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 2 sticks scallions / green onions
  • 1 – 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup water to facilitate the blending process
  • Enough oil for frying
  • Enough water to clean the beans

Tools

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Food processor
  • Hand mixer or whisk
  • Deep and wide pan for frying
  • Slotted/skimmer spoon
  • Paper towel
  • Drying rack or plate

Directions

Part 1: clean the beans

       

  • Soak the beans in water for 30 min (1hr at most)
  • Transfer the beans to a food processor. Add enough water (about twice the level of your beans)
  • Pulse blend the beans/water a few times. I usually do it about 4-5 times
  • After the pulse blending process, transfer the resulting mixture into a large bowl
  • Add more water to the bowl if needed and start rubbing the beans in between your two hands. Do this a few times.
  • Allow the beans themselves to settle at the bottom, and the beans skin to settle at the top (only a few seconds); then, discard the water (along with the skins floating)
  • Repeat the two previous steps – adding water and discarding it with the floating beans skins – until most of the beans’ skins are gone
  • There usually are a few beans that still have their skins / black eyes on them. Using your hands/fingers, remove the skins left on the black-eyed beans one by one. This should not take too much time
  • Your beans are ready to be mashed to make Akara

 

Part 2: prep the Akara seasonings

  • Add onions, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper in a blender with just enough water to facilitate the blending process
  • Blend until smooth; then set the mixture aside

 

Part 3: prep the Akara

       

  • Place the cleaned beans into a blender, add 1/4 cup of water and blend into a smooth paste. If needed, and depending on how powerful your blender is, add a couple table spoons to help with blending.
  • Transfer the paste into a large bowl. Use 1-2 tablespoons of water to rinse the batter left in the blender out.
  • Using a hand mixer, whisk for about 3 min until light and fluffy to incorporate some air into the batter. You can also use a hand whisk; however, you will need to whisk for about 5-6 min.
  • Add the seasoning we set aside from Part 2 into the mixture, and fold to mix everything together.
  • Add salt and scallions; then mix again, lightly

 

Part 4: make the Akara

  • Heat the empty pan for about 1 minute
  • Add enough oil to the pan and allow the oil to heat. We want the oil to be hot enough so that the fritters do not soak up oil. If needed, please test out one fritter first before frying a whole batch.
  • Scoop the small amounts of the batter in the hot oil and fry each side until golden brown/orange on medium high heat – about 2-3 min on each side. You can use a tablespoon or ice cream scoop to do this.
  • Remove from the oil, then drain on a paper towel / drying rack
  • Serve warm and enjoy!

 

Notes

  1. You can buy peeled beans to make this recipe. I think it is not the same as using fresh beans but that is an option.
  2. When using the blender process, you do not need to soak your beans overnight. Keeping the beans in water for 30 min is enough, but you can keep it in water for up to 1hr. No need to soak them overnight, unless you plan on using your hands/fingers to peel them one by one.
  3. After being soaked the beans almost double in size; so do not panic. That is expected.
  4. I prefer using a food processor instead of a blender to clean my beans. The blender tends to crush the beans; whereas with the food processor they’re not likely to break too much.
  5. Please beat your Akara batter long enough to incorporate air into it. I like using an electric hand mixer, and whisk for about 3 min until light and fluffy. When using a hand whisk you would need to whisk the batter longer – about 5-6 min, if not more depending how fast you do it.
  6. I highly suggest you blend the beans and your seasonings separately. This ensures your batter stays intact in case you have any leftovers. I found blending with the seasonings makes my leftover batter watery.
  7. Use just enough water to blend the beans. Too much water in the batter will make your Akara soak too much oil when it comes time to frying.
  8. In Benin, we enjoy Akara with a porridge (shown below is fermented corn porridge), with fried sweet potatoes or yams, or with dried granulated cassava aka garri.

       

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Make sure to tag me @theblvckgourmet on Instagram if you try this recipe and use hashtag #bgrecipe.

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