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The Perks of Being a West African Wall Flower…. [Akara vs Acaraje]

I love watching travel shows.
Soon after they’re done, I close my eyes, and imagine that I’m magically transported there.
Right in the center of it all.

To date, my two favorite travel show hosts, in this wonderful mix of TV and my zany imagination, are: the straight shooting Anthony Bourdain, and the irresistible Errol Barnett (what a smile).
Its my adult version of make believe; but its something that has always gotten me through tough times.
I have no complaints. Except for….

Whenever I read or hear people discuss “African cuisine”, they only mention Morocco.
Why only Morocco?
This happens often, and when it does, a weird feeling comes seeping out of me. I’ve been told I make a fart face, then, as soon as it appears, I suppress it. Its a hard feeling to describe, but its an unhealthy mixture of pity, shame, annoyance, and the sting of frustration.
And there was again yesterday. I still feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.
How can people out there still fail to understand that:
Africa is a continent, not a country.

I’m not trying to get political, nor am I trying to get embroiled in an argument about it all.
Its just that with a place roughly three times the size of Europe, its like saying that European food is only… bangers and mash or steak and kidney pie.
Ignoring Italian, forgetting French, and dismissing all else, in favor of ‘English Cuisine’.
Whatever that means.
Nowadays its more like ‘Pad Thai’ or ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’, than ‘Bubble and Squeak’.
So ha!
I must admit if that were the case, it’d be great marketing for England.
I doubt David Cameron would protest(he needs it), but what about everybody else?

I just wish… that more people could experience and  love my cuisine, as much as I love theirs.
Because after all, good food is meant to be shared.


That’s why, today in typical English manner, I’m going to passive aggressively protest, what I deem to be an injustice.
I’ve decided that I’m going to share a classic Nigerian snack.
Take that!

Acara / Acaraje
Fried Bean Cake with Salted Coconut Milk

DSC_0068 (2)

 

For those who have never heard of it. Akara is one of the most popular breakfast staples in Nigeria. It’s a commonly sold street food and I liken its popularity to that of the Baozi sold by vendors in China. Coincidentally, its just as well known in Brazil, where they refer to it as Akaraje.
Doesn’t that just speak oodles to its transatlantic-tastiness?

Traditionally, it is served with ogi ( also known as pap); a porridge made of fine cornmeal. However if you’re like me, and cannot get your hands on ogi, you can substitute it for my highly experimental (but still appetizing) salted coconut dip sauce.

N.B If you’re still not satisfied, you can serve it with fried Yams or a sweet potato mash.

Ingredients

For the Akara

500grams Peeled black eyed beans
[for a guide on how to de-hull the beans, please feel free to visit my new youtube channel]
1/4 Glass of water
1/2 Medium onion – chopped
2 Thai Chillies – chopped
Salt
Oil for frying

For the Salted Coconut dip
1 tsp Salt
3 tsps of Sugar
255ml Coconut Milk

Instructions

Akara
1. In a blender, combine the beans with 1/4 cup water. Puree to a smooth paste.
You want just enough water that the blender moves, but not too much that your blended beans are runny.

2. Pour the pureed beans into a bowl
(or if you want to do it traditionally, use a pestle and mortar for the following steps).

3. Add in the chilies, chopped onions and mix for about 5 minutes
(this step is vital as it add air to the batter and thickens it).

4. Take a deep pan, place it on medium heat and add in some oil.

5. Once the oil is hot, throw in your salt to your bean mixture and stir.
(Legend has it that if you add the salt too early, it will ruin your Akara. I have never gone against this nugget of wisdom, lest it be true).

6. Making sure your oil isn’t too hot, spoon in the batter into the oil.
To make sure the batter doesn’t spread out, you can use an ice cream scoop or even two spoons.
I’ve made a youtube video on my channel. So to see how I did it. Click this!

7. Fry on each side until golden brown .

8. Lift out Akara and drain on kitchen paper.

Salted Coconut Sauce

1. In a saucepan, mix in salt, sugar and coconut milk and bring to the boil.
2. Once boiling reduce the heat.
3. Stirring occasionally, remove from heat once the coconut oil has reduced in size
(however, I prefer it to still be quite runny).
The accompanying video can also be found here.

Plate up and enjoy x

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Me, Moi Moi and My | Making Traditional African Dishes in Asia | SheDoesLiving

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