Nigerian Akara (Accara/Acaraje): Black Eyed Pea Fritters
Nigerian Akara (Accara/Acaraje) are tasty fried black eyed pea fritters/bean fritters that can be served alone or with a side of of starch (like pap, garri, custard or porridge) with a kaani dip or in a burger.
The other day I shared my recipe for Moi moi, and if you recall, I said that Moi moi was one of my favorites, but that I had other dishes that were also on my favorite list. Akara (also known as Accara or Acaraje) is another favorite of mine and is quite easy to make. Nigerian Akara is one of the most common breakfast staples in Nigerian homes and a very popular street snack as well. You will commonly find this black eyed pea/bean fritters delicacy sold by street sellers on its own or as part of what is locally called “Akara burger”, where a local bread favorite called “agege bread” (so called due to its popularity in the streets of Agege Lagos, Nigeria) is stuffed with several pieces of akara resulting in an amazing snack somewhat similar to a falafel burger (but much better in my obviously biased opinion!). In this Nigerian Akara recipe, I show how to easily make the fluffiest, most delicious black eyed pea fritters (or bean fritters to my fellow Nigerians who also make them with brown or honey beans) and use them in my own elevated akara burger recipe.
Akara is also quite popular in the West African region in places like Ghana and Senegal where bean fritters might go by the name “Accara” and is also enjoyed in Brazil where West African migrants call it Acaraje with theirs commonly stuffed with shrimp. In Senegal, it is very common to serve Accara with a side of kaani sauce: a spicy, tomato-based sauce usually used for dipping (which I also used as a side in this recipe for variety). Nigerian Akara is similar to Moi moi, but unlike Moi moi that is usually steamed or baked, Akara are fried black eyed pea fritters. The texture and taste of Akara and Moi moi are worlds apart, but they use very similar ingredients.
Nigerian Akara/Accara/Acaraje are tasty fried black eyed pea fritters that can be served alone or with a side of pap, garri, custard, porridge or even in a burger.
- 1.5 cups black eyed peas
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 scotch bonnet/ habanero peppers
- 3 tsp vegetable bouillon
- Salt to taste
- Oil for deep frying
First of all, start by skinning the beans. Simply soak the beans in water for 3 minutes. After about 3 minutes, the skin of the beans should start wrinkling a little bit. Place the beans in a food processor, with some water, just enough to cover it. Pulse the food processor about 5-6 times to agitate the beans. This process breaks the beans up and separates the skins off the beans. Be careful, some water might splash out of the processor while pulsing the beans.
Pour the skinned beans in a bowl. Rinse several times to separate the beans from the skins, draining the skins with the water with each rinse. The skins should come off easily because the skins are lighter and should float to the top.
Once the beans are clean, soak them in water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
After the beans have soaked, drain the water that they have been soaking in, and rinse the beans one more time.
Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the scotch bonnet peppers to a rough paste and set aside.
Blend the beans and the onions with 1/2 a cup of water until it is completely smooth.
The texture should be similar to that of a thick muffin batter.
Heat up oil for deep frying in a pan up to 375°F while prepping the akara batter.
Add the salt, bullion, and scotch bonnet peppers to the bean batter, mixing continuously for five minutes to in-cooperate air into the batter.
With a large spoon, drop the akara batter a spoonful at a time into the hot oil to fry. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until it is golden brown both sides, take out of the frying oil and place into a colander or on paper towels to drain.
Akara/Accara/Acaraje can be served by itself, with a side of pap (a fermented corn based porridge also called ‘akamu’), eaten with cold soaked garri (finely ground cassava flakes soaked in cold water) as a side dish (as my hubby likes to have it for some reason), custard, porridge oats or in my new favorite way: as a burger. To assemble the akara burger simply place the fried bean fritters between your favorite buns ( instead of the usual agege bread, I used my own homemade Ghana sweet bread buns), and top with your favorite burger toppings. I topped my burger with caramelized onions, sprouts, and tomatoes.
Let me know if you enjoyed this Nigerian Akara recipe! And if you are looking for another delicious black eyed peas recipe, why not check out my Moi Moi: Steamed Black Eyed Peas Pudding recipe?