Akara are deep-fried bean fritters, popular in West African countries and Brazil. Black-eyed peas are the most common choice of bean for this crispy snack, but other beans, each with their own flavor or texture, can be experimented with until you find your favorite. Akara can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer with a side of savory sauce for dipping and they're best served while still fresh and crispy.
Akara: Nigerian Fried Bean Balls [Vegan]
- 2 cups dry black-eyed peas
- 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper or habanero pepper, deseeded and chopped (optional)
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 vegetable stock cube, ground (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Soak black-eyed peas overnight in a large pot of water.
- Drain and add water again to cover.
- Loosen black-eyed beans skins by rubbing the beans between your hands. Alternatively, you can speed up the process by putting the beans in the food processor with just a little water and pulsing briefly 3 to 4 times.
- Transfer the beans to a food processor. Add about 1/2 cup of water for every 2 cups of beans. Purée until smooth and creamy. You may need to add a little more water to reach the right texture. Add hot pepper and shallots and blend again.
- Put the bean paste in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste and mix again.
- In a large pan, heat vegetable oil to 370°F. Form balls of paste with a spoon and carefully dip them into the pan. Fry until browned evenly on all sides.
- Place on a dish lined with paper towel. Serve hot, alone or with a dipping sauce.
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