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Akara Beancakes

(Black-Eyed Pea Fritters)


In West Africa, black-eyed peas are used in a batter to make fried beancakes (fritters), called Akara, Alakara, and several other names in different areas. Akara are often served at home, for breakfast, snacks, appetizers, or side dish. They are usually given time to cool after cooking, and served at room temperature. Note that, using the Traditional Method, Akara take at least an entire day to prepare, in order to allow the black-eyed peas to soak and the batter to rest. If you choose to prepare your fritters using the Quick Method, Akara can be prepared in about 30 minutes. Please see the Variations section for ideas to make your Akara uniquely flavored.

Traditional Method
Ingredients

two to three cups dried black-eyed peas one onion, finely chopped hot chile pepper, and/or sweet green pepper or sweet red pepper, finely chopped cayenne pepper or red pepper one-half teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and minced peanut oil, palm oil, or vegetable oil for frying Clean the black-eyed peas in running water. Soak them in water for at least a few hours or overnight. After soaking them, rub them together between your hands to remove the skins. Rinse to wash away the skins and any other debris. Drain them in a colander. Crush, grind, or mash the black-eyed peas into a thick paste. Add enough water to form a smooth, thick paste of a batter that will cling to a spoon. Add all other ingredients (except oil). Some people allow the batter to stand for a few hours (overnight in the refrigerator); doing so improves the flavor. Heat oil in a deep skillet. Beat the batter with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. Make fritters by scooping up a spoon full of batter and using another spoon to quickly push it into the hot oil. Deep fry the fritters until they are golden brown. Turn them frequently while frying. (If the fritters fall apart in the oil, stir in a beaten egg, some cornmeal or crushed breadcrumbs.) Serve plain, or with an African pepper sauce on the side. (You will have to find a recipe for this.)

Instructions

Akara Beancakes
(Black-Eyed Pea Fritters)
Quick Method
Ingredients

two cans of black-eyed peas one cup of frozen chopped onion and green pepper seasoning blend (available in the frozen vegetables section of most grocery stores) 1 /8 to cup of crushed red pepper (available in the dry seasonings section of most grocery stores) teaspoon of dry powdered ginger peanut oil, palm oil, or vegetable oil for frying Drain the excess water from the two cans of black-eyed peas. (It is okay to have a little of the water remain. This will help to make the batter smooth.) Mash the black-eyed peas into a thick paste. Add all other ingredients (except oil). Heat oil in a deep skillet. Beat the batter with wooden or plastic spoon for a few minutes. Make fritters by scooping up a spoon full of batter and using another spoon to quickly push it into the hot oil. Deep fry the fritters until they are golden brown. Turn them frequently while frying. (If the fritters fall apart in the oil, stir in a beaten egg, some cornmeal or crushed breadcrumbs.) Serve plain, or with a Mexican-style salsa (available in jars, at the grocery store).

Instructions

Variations
Mixed Oils The cooking oil can make a big difference in the flavor of your Akara. Try cooking with different oil, or a mixture of oils. Palm oil is heavy, with a flavor that can over-shadow some others. Mixing it with safflower oil will lighten the effect of the palm oil. Adding some coconut oil will sweeten the taste a bit. Olive oil adds a unique smoothness. Different Beans To vary the taste, try a different bean, or combination of beans. Some suggestions are; red beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, lima beans, and chick peas. Non-vegeterian If your diet does not require an all-vegeterian recipe, you might try adding to cup of some form of meat (suggestions; beef, goat, lamb, chicken, tuna, catfish, tilapia, salmon, crab, sea scallops, or shrimp). The meat should be, pre-cooked and finely chopped.