Akara – Nigerian Black-eyed pea fritters are tiny scoops of mildly flavoured bean dough, fried to perfection! It is a popular Senegal snack, usually served with Red Kosayi – the local chilli sauce made with red bell peppers, long red chillies, vinegar, olive oil, sugar and salt.
You know the feeling, when you’re in a foreign land and you chance upon a street food vendor or a restaurant that carries a delicacy from back home? That’s the feeling I get when I’m watching international food shows on TV and there’s a recipe from the other side of the world that is so similar to something from India! Languages and cultures fascinate me. We’re all like seeds, scattered by the wind. We took root in different places, but deep down, there’s something that connects us all, and I love finding that connection through food and language!
I was watching Food Safari on the Fox Traveller yesterday afternoon, and there was this particular episode on African food being aired. So many wonderful recipes were being showcased and along comes something that was so similar to the South Indian Vada!
So here you go. I hope you try this, it’s pretty amazing to eat something that is popular in another continent, but tastes so close to home!
You begin by soaking black-eyed peas overnight. This will soften both the skin and the bean, making it easier to skin on the morrow.
De-skin the Black-eyed peas by rubbing them between the palm of your hands vigorously. This is truly the hardest part of this recipe, simply because it is time consuming. So I suggest you do the de-skining during the afternoon, after a nice lunch, and serve these up at tea-time. Every now and then, wash the skins out and start again. I recommend watching this video to know how.
Some say it takes just 20 minutes, but it took me about 2 hours to de-skin the soaked beans. I’d probably get better with practice, but if I were you, I’d factor in the time.
Drain the skinned black-eyed peas and grind them to a thick, smooth paste, adding as little water as necessary.
You can refrigerate this batter for a couple of days if you want, but once you add the flavours and salt, it’s best fried immediately.
Sit the ground batter for 30 minutes. You’ll notice that the batter gets somehow ‘fluffy’ in this time.
Stir in the chopped vegetables – I added onion, jalapenos, grated ginger, curry leaves, chilli and salt to taste.
Deep fry on medium heat until golden brown! If it’s too hot, the outside will brown before the insides cook. If it’s not hot enough, then the fritter drinks too much oil. Drain on paper towels and serve hot!
Enjoy the gorgeous, crisp exterior and the incredibly soft, mildly spiced inside.