In the heart of Nigeria, where vibrant flavors and rich culinary traditions converge, akara stands as a beloved snack that captivates the taste buds of many. These golden, crispy bean cakes, made from black-eyed peas, are a cherished street food and an essential part of Nigerian cuisine. But what if we told you there's a secret to making this delectable treat even more accessible and convenient? Enter bean flour, a versatile alternative that promises the same savory delight, all while simplifying the preparation process. In this article, we embark on a journey to explore the art of making akara with bean flour, unveiling the steps and techniques to create this flavorful masterpiece in the comfort of your own kitchen.
What is Bean Flour?
Bean flour is a versatile, gluten-free flour made from dried and ground beans. Bean flour is created by thoroughly drying the beans and then grinding them into a fine powder.\
What is Akara?
Akara is a popular and beloved Nigerian snack and breakfast food. It is also known as "bean cakes" or "acarajé" in other West African countries. Akara is made from black-eyed peas, and it's a deep-fried fritter with a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior.
Where Did Akara Originate From?
Akara is believed to have originated from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The Yoruba ethnic group is one of the largest and most influential in West Africa, and they have a rich culinary heritage. Akara has deep roots in Yoruba culture, and it is a traditional and beloved food in this region.
- 1 cup of bean flour
- Water (for batter)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 hot peppers (e.g., Scotch bonnet or habanero), finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground crayfish (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
How To Make Akara
In a mixing bowl, add the bean flour. Gradually add water to the bean flour while stirring until you achieve a thick, smooth batter. The consistency should be similar to that of traditional akara batter.
Add the finely chopped onions, hot peppers, ground crayfish (if using), and salt to the batter. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
Heat the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan or frying pan to about 350-375°F (175-190°C).
To test if the oil is ready for frying, drop a small amount of the batter into the hot oil. If it sizzles and rises to the surface, the oil is hot enough.
Using a spoon, scoop a portion of the batter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. You can shape the batter into small balls or patties. The size can vary based on your preference.
Fry the akara until it becomes golden brown and crispy on the outside. Make sure to fry them in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried akara from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain any excess oil.
Continue the process until you've used up all the batter.
Why is My Akara Flat?
If your akara turns out flat instead of the desired fluffy and airy texture, several factors could be contributing to this issue.
Batter Consistency: The consistency of the batter plays a crucial role. If the batter is too thick or too thin, it can result in flat akara. The batter should be thick enough to hold its shape when scooped into the hot oil but not so thick that it becomes heavy. Adjust the water in the batter to achieve the right consistency.
Oil Temperature: The temperature of the frying oil is critical. If the oil is not hot enough, the akara may not puff up correctly and will remain flat. Make sure the oil is at the right temperature, around 350-375°F (175-190°C), before frying.
Oil Quantity: Overcrowding the frying pan with too many akara at once can reduce the space available for them to puff up. Fry the akara in small batches to allow enough room for them to expand.
What To Serve With Akara?
Pap (Akamu or Ogi): Pap is a Nigerian porridge made from fermented corn or maize. It's a common pairing for akara and balances the savory fritters with its mild sweetness.
Bread: Akara can be served with bread, especially as a filling for sandwiches or wraps. It's a convenient and popular street food combination in many West African countries.
Where To Buy Bean Flour
You can find bean flour in stores that sell African products. You may also be able to find bean flour in your nearest store if it's range of products is large enough. Here at our African Food Store we sell quality bean flour for you to purchase.
Akara, with its crispy exterior and soft, savory interior, has a unique place in the hearts and homes of many. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack, a hearty breakfast, or a side dish, the culinary world of akara is a testament to the diverse and vibrant tapestry of West African cuisine.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can embark on a flavorful journey right in your own kitchen.