International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Akkra

Black-eyed pea fritters

(Senegalese black-eyed pea fritters)

Image Creative Commons by Jose Oliveira

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These bean fritters originated in Western Africa, but with the slave trade they spread to the Caribbean and Brazil. Crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle, they are variously known as akra, acra, accra, acrat and acarajé.

Makes 25 to 30 fritters

Ingredients

  • Black-eyed peas, soaked overnight -- 1 pound
  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Water -- 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • Hot pepper sauce -- 1 or 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Oil for deep frying (see notes and variations)

Method

  1. Place the beans in a large bowl and add water to cover. Rub the beans back and forth with your hands to remove their skins. The skins will rise to the surface and can then be skimmed off. Drain the beans.
  2. Place the beans and the chopped onion in a food processor. Process to a puree, adding just enough water to form a thick paste. Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a sauté pan over medium-high flame until it shimmers. Or use a deep fryer and heat the oil to 365 to 375ºF. Drop spoonsful of the batter into the hot oil, turning until they brown on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate hold warm until all the batter has been used up. Serve immediately with hot pepper sauce.

Akkra Notes and Variations

  • Akkra are traditionally fried in red palm, or dendê, oil, but peanut or any vegetable oil will do if you can't find palm oil.
  • Add minced chile pepper to the bean puree for a little added heat.
  • Dried shrimp is sometimes added to the batter. Use about 1/4 cup dried, ground shrimp to the above recipe. Or press a whole dried shrimp into each ball of batter before frying.
  • Some recipes call for the onion to be minced and sautéed before it is stirred into the bean puree. The onion can also be eliminated if you like.
  • A little beaten egg or breadcrumbs can be stirred into the batter to keep it from falling apart in the oil as it fries.
  • In Brazil, these fritters, called acarajé, are popular street food. They split in half, stuffed with tasty sauces or stews and served like a sandwich.
  • A similar fritter, also called akkra or accrat, is made in many Caribbean islands. But these are made with ground malanga root or a yeast flour batter instead of pureed black-eyed peas. Cooked, flaked salt cod is usually stirred into the batter.

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