Akara Nigerian Breakfast Recipe
Akara, also known as Bean Cakes, Bean Balls, Bean Fritas or Acarajé in Portuguese is a Nigerian breakfast recipe made with beans.
To make Akara, you need to first of all remove the beans coat. You should remove the coat from the beans just before you make the Akara. This means that you can't use coatless beans that has been stored in the fridge or freezer to make Akara. I tried that and the Akara did not turn out well like the ones made with freshly peeled beans.
Ingredients you need for Akara
You need only 5 ingredients to make Akara:
- 1 cup of Beans (black-eyed or brown beans)
- 2 habanero peppers (also chilli peppers)
- 1 medium onion
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable Oil for frying
Tools you will need:
- Mortar and Pestle
Before you fry Akara
- Remove the beans coat. Read how to remove beans coat for help on how to do that. It is important that you do not let salt come in contact with the beans you will use in making Akara till you are ready to fry it. Salt is believed to destroy the leavening property of beans. This is what prevents spattering of the beans batter during frying.
- Then soak the beans in water for 2 hours to make it soft enough for your blender. If you will grind it using the heavy duty grinders in Nigerian markets, it will not be necessary to soak the beans for extended periods of time.
- Cut the pepper and onions into desirable sizes.
- Grind the beans with your blender making sure you add as little water as possible. The water should be just enough to move the blades of your blender.
The operators of the heavy duty grinders in Nigerian markets don't even add water when grinding beans for Akara. The less water you add at the grinding stage, the more the beans batter will stay together during frying thereby reducing spatter. Also, do not add any other ingredient when grinding the beans for Akara. It is believed that other ingredients, if added too early, reduce the ability of the ground beans particles to stick together.
- Set some vegetable oil on the cooker to heat up. The oil should be at least 3 inches deep.
- Put some of the ground beans into a mortar. This should be the quantity you can fry in one go.
- Stir the beans puree with the pestle in a continuous circular motion. You need to apply some pressure so that you can energize the particles of the beans puree.
This stirring technique releases the gas that will act like a leavening agent to the beans particles, making them rise and somehow stick together. This will be like the yeast making the dough rise in Puff Puff or what folding does to cake batter.
- Keep stirring till the ground beans appears whiter and you can perceive its peculiar aroma.
- Add some water till you get the consistency shown in the video below.
- Check to make sure the oil is hot. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle but not too hot. If too hot, the Akara will spatter as soon as the beans batter hits the oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onions and pepper to the beans puree in the mortar. Stir well.
- Add salt to your taste and stir again. Salt should always be added just before scooping the beans mixture into the oil. If salt stays in the mixture for extended periods of time, it will destroy the leavening property of the beans. This property is what makes the Akara float in the oil and prevent spatter during frying.
- To fry the Akara, scoop the mixture with a table spoon and slowly pour this into the oil. Dipping the spoon a little bit into the oil helps reduce spatter.
- Fry the underside till brown and flip to fry the top side too.
- When the Akara balls are brown all over, remove and place in a sieve lined with paper towels.
Important points to note when making Akara
Follow these and your Akara will turn out great.
- Use freshly peeled beans.
- Use a very small quantity of water when grinding.
- Smoothen the mix with mortar and pestle before frying.
- Add salt just before frying.
Making Akara may seem like rocket science but with practice, you will perfect this recipe. If you do not get it right the first time, try again. Everybody has the same first time experience with making Akara.