World Cup fever is everywhere……you cannot escape it, even a football ignorant person like me!!! Growing up, I watched a lot of cricket and tennis. While cricket now is no longer on my must watch list, tennis is still quite prominent. V and N however really enjoy football or soccer as its known here. So we have been watching a few matches and I have to say that I still don’t understand many of the rules….I however enjoyed myself thoroughly!!!
I have had my eye on this Nigerian dish for quite a while and have been waiting for the right time to make it……..you know, when you have the ingredients and the time as well as the inclination to make it!!!! When I saw the Bloggers around the World- World Cup 2014 challenge, I figured it’s the right time. It’s a Black Eye Pea Fritter called AKARA. It’s very popular in most West African Countries but is usually associated with Nigeria. I love beans of any kind….well let me rephrase, almost every bean….not very fond of fava beans!!! I also use beans to sneak in protein in the diet of my very picky eaters. They like deep fried food…..lets be honest almost everyone loves it and I do let them have deep fried stuff once in a while!!
Anyway, different versions of akara are found all over West and Central Africa. During the slave trade, it made its way to the Caribbean and South America. In Brazil, its called ACARAJE. These are very similar to the Middle Eastern Falafel, only in this case instead of chickpeas or fava beans, black eye peas are used. Akara are typically eaten for Breakfast, snack or as a part of a multi dish meal. I prefer to serve these as appetizers or eat them in as sandwich or pita like falafel.
This is a pretty simple dish….I know I say that about every dish I make but it truly is or maybe its simple b’coz I never even look at a recipe if it is not simple!!! My friend C, always asks is it Ghay easy or a normal person easy??? You soak black eye peas and then blend it with a few ingredients, drop spoonfuls in hot oil, cook till golden brown and enjoy….. I will let you be the judge as to how easy it is. This version is the simplest and also vegetarian. There are variations with shrimp, stock cubes, ginger but this being my first time, I stuck with very few ingredients. You can either use the scotch bonnet peppers, which are extremely hot or stick to Thai bird chilies or jalapenos, which are less intense. My only note is that it is important not to add too much water and use a food processor to puree the beans. The processor aerates as it grinds so the fritters are light and airy.
AKARA OR ACARAJE (BLACK EYE PEA FRITTERS)
1 ½ cups dried Black Eye Peas
1 small Onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ Scotch Bonnet Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
Canola or Peanut oil for frying
Pick over the peas and rinse in cold water. Soak in enough to cover by 4-5 inches overnight.
Drain and cover again with fresh water. Rub the peas between your palms to loosen most of the skins. Skim off the free skins and drain thoroughly.
Place in a food processor and process, pushing it down till you get a grainy paste.
Now add 4-5 tbsp. of hot water, a tbsp. at a time till you get a droppable consistency. DO NOT ADD EXTRA WATER.
Now, separately process the onions and peppers and mix into the bean mixture.
Heat the oil for frying and add the salt just before you drop the bean mixture into the oil.
Stir the batter gently and using a cookie scoop, drop the batter into the oil. Do not over crowd the pan. It will absorb oil if you do so.
Fry on medium for 6 minutes or so, turning the fritters regularly. They should have an even, rich reddish brown color.
Drain on paper towels and serve hot with a spicy dipping sauce.
As I said earlier, this is off to the Bloggers around the World- World Cup 2014 at Cooking around the World.