Black-eyed Pea Fritters

Akara

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    24

    small fritters

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Akara (also called accara, akla, kose, koose, kosai) is a hugely popular West African pea/bean fritter. This dish has many variations. Ghanaians treasure it and it is also popular in Nigeria. A version that traveled to Brazil is known as acarajé. In Ghana, akara is commonly made from black-eyed peas. The initial step is to remove the skins from the black-eyed peas and grind them. A second option is to use finely ground black-eyed pea powder. While this may be convenient, for the best akara, I prefer soaking and dehulling dried black-eyed peas and grinding them myself. (It is also possible, though less common, to make the akara without first removing the skins.)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • ½ cup minced or grated onion
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon dried ground red pepper (or to taste)
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Method

Directions

Prepare the fritters

  1. Remove the skins of the black-eyed peas as described. While soaking the peas, prepare the other ingredients, and put the oil into a deep fryer or a large heavy pot. Never fill the fryer or pot more than half full.
  2. After removing the skins of the black-eyed peas, grind half of them thoroughly in a blender, using up to ¼ cup water and pushing down the sides with a spatula several times if necessary. This will take several minutes. Alternatively, grind them in a food processor. Avoid using any more water than necessary.
  3. Empty the first batch into a bowl and repeat the process with the second half of the beans. When they are fairly well ground, add the onion, ginger, salt, and ground red pepper, and continue mixing until the paste is well blended.
  4. Empty the bean paste in the blender into the bowl with the first batch, and whip using a mixer, whisk, or spoon for about 2 minutes or until air is incorporated into the batter to make it light (mixture should be a little thicker than egg whites or whipped cream).

Fry the fritters

  1. Preheat the oil. If using a deep fryer, set the temperature to 350 to 360 degrees F. When using a heavy pot on my electric stove, I need to alternate between a medium-high and high heat as the batter is added and removed.
  2. Depending on the size of akara desired, choose a long-handled spoon for putting the batter in the oil: a teaspoon size for tiny fritters, a tablespoon or serving spoon size for larger fritters. Dip the spoon into the oil to coat it, then dip it into the paste and scoop out some batter. Quickly use another spoon to carefully slip the batter off into the oil. Repeat until the fryer or pot is filled but not crowded.
  3. If the fritters do not turn over by themselves, turn them over halfway through cooking time. Cooking time depends on the size of the fritters, but it will take several minutes until they are nicely browned.
  4. Remove fritters with a slotted spoon as they brown and drain them on paper towels to cool and absorb extra oil. After cooling the first batch, break open a fritter to confirm that it is fully cooked, and adjust the temperature of the oil if necessary for cooking the remaining dough.

To serve

The fritters can be eaten warm or at room temperature, alone or with a dip. Bite-size fritters may be served with toothpicks and a hot sauce and/or version of a peanut sauce as a party appetizer. In Ghana, larger fritters are classically served with porridge for breakfast, or eaten as a snack.