- African Honey Beans400 GramsYou can substitute with Black-Eyed Peas
- Chilli Pepper7 Pieces
- Onion1 Pieces
- Ground Crayfish3 TablespoonsTo taste. Skip if you are vegetarian or vegan
- Salt And Seasoning CubesTo taste
- Chili Powder1 Tablespoons
- OilFor frying
How to make Akara
Akara is also called beans fritters, or Acaraje in Brazil.
This recipe makes 12 pieces of medium to large sized akara balls.
1. Add about 400 grams of beans to a bowl, add water and leave it to soak overnight. You should add a lot of water, enough to cover the beans. You don’t have to soak overnight but you do have to soak the beans for a decent amount of time. Soaking the beans softens it in preparation for blending and makes the skin easier to peel off.
2. After soaking, peel the skin off the beans. You can do this by either by rubbing the beans between your hands until the skin comes off or pulsing it in a blender. After peeling off the skin, drain any excess water and set aside.
3. Wash the chilli peppers (locally called tatashe in Nigeria) and onions, chop them in preparation for blending and add them to a bowl. If your crayfish isn’t ground, add 3 tablespoons of crayfish. If it is ground, skip.
4. Add the beans to a blender. This step will determine how well your akara turns out. When blending, you need to add as little water as possible. Otherwise, your akara will not turn out well. Depending on how powerful your blender is, the blades may resist when you put in the beans and it may not blend. So first put in the beans without any water, try to pulse. If it resists, add two tablespoons of water. Then pulse. If the blender resists, add another tablespoon and pulse. Keep adding water in tablespoons full until pulsing works and then blend until smooth. Some blenders come with little grinders. A tip is to put the beans in the grinder and pulse or blend until the beans breaks down or mashes somewhat then transfer to a blender. Then add water in tablespoons.
5. After the beans has blended and you have a smooth, lumps free paste, do the same for the peppers, onion and crayfish (skip if you have ground crayfish). Remember, as little water as possible. Add the peppers, onion and crayfish to the blender, then add water in tablespoons. Add in a couple of tablespoons first, if it doesn’t blend, add another tablespoon and pulse. Do this until it starts to blend. Blend until smooth.
6. Without adding salt or seasoning, stir the blended beans paste thoroughly until it puffs up almost double in size and you notice a few air bubbles in the paste. If you have an electric mixer, do this for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add in the blended pepper paste, ground crayfish, chilli powder, an optional half teaspoon of curry powder and stir more until the blended beans and pepper paste has thoroughly combined and you see a few air bubbles. You shouldn’t be concerned at all if you don’t see a lot of air bubbles, but you should see at least one or two.
7. Now the paste is ready to be transformed into akara balls. This is where you add salt or seasoning cubes to taste. You will notice that immediately you add salt or anything salty, the whole paste collapses and shrinks in size. This is why you should add in the salt only when you are ready to fry. Adding salt before you are ready to fry may result in flat, pancake looking akara.
8. In a deep pan or pot, add vegetable oil or any frying oil and heat up. Akara is deep fried so the oil has to be at least 1.5 inches deep. Any less and the akara may turn out flat. Heat up on medium to high heat. The temperature of the oil is very important and your akara has to fry on medium to high heat because if your oil isn’t hot enough, the akara will soak a lot of oil when frying and turn out super oily. In the same vein, if the oil is too hot, it may result in a cooked outside but uncooked insides. So test the temperature by dipping a little of the paste in the oil. If it is too hot, it will brown immediately.
9. Using a spoon (larger than a tablespoon but not too large), add the paste into the hot oil. Add it by tilting the spoon vertically as you add the paste. Depending on how large your pan or pot is, add as many as possible but don’t overcrowd the pan. There should be enough room without the balls bumping into each other. Let it fry for about 2 to 3 minutes then you flip. Don’t flip too soon. Flipping too soon may scatter the paste. So the underside and the edges has to cook first before you flip to the other side. Keep flipping until both sides are sufficiently browned and cooked. To test if the insides are cooked, dip a sharp object, like a knife, into the balls. If it comes out clean, the insides are cooked. If it comes out with some paste, the insides are not cooked and you need to keep frying.
10. Fry until all the paste is exhausted.
Your akara is ready, serve with bread, pap, oatmeal or custard :).
You can substitute African honey beans with Black-eyed peas
Don't like crayfish? You can substitute with ground smoked shrimps. Don't like either? You can totally skip.
If deep fried food isn't your thing, check out the non deep fried version of this food called Akara Pancake and the steamed version of this food, called Moin Moin or Bean Pudding. Links down below.