Akara is a West African fritter made of black eyed peas. It is also called accra or akla. It is served as a snack, side dish or appetizer. Akara is prepared with soaked and crushed cowpeas that are cooked with spices.
Black eyed peas, the primary ingredient for the dish, is a species of ‘cowpeas’, and have been cultivated for centuries across Africa. Akara has been a traditional dish in Africa, from where it was taken to Brazil by the African slaves.
Ingredients Used and Popular Method of Preparation of Akara
Here is a list of ingredients required to prepare Akara-
- Black eyed peas: A species of cowpeas, they form the main ingredient as per the Akara recipe.
- Chili pepper: It is the fruit of a plant from genus Capsicum, known for its sharp and intense flavor.
- Cayenne pepper: A red colored hot variant of chili pepper.
- Ginger- Rhizome of Zingiber officinale plant, this is a spice known for its flavor, heating effect and medicinal properties.
- Oil: Vegetable oil or palm oil is used for frying.
Method of Preparation
The black eyed peas are washed and soaked for a couple of hours. The skins are then removed by rubbing between hands, and the peas are crushed or ground into a thick paste. Water is added just enough to make the batter of a thick consistency so that it clings to the spoon in which it is taken. Spices (onions, ginger, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, etc.) and salt are added to it and mixed well. The batter is beaten well and left to stand for some time. After this, small quantities of the batter are taken with a spoon and dropped into heated oil. They are fried till golden brown, turning them frequently so that they are done from all sides. The delicious akara is thus ready to serve.
Serving and Eating Akara
Akara is served as an appetizer, snack or a side dish, often with African sauce. It is also a popular breakfast dish in Africa. It is sold by street vendors in West Africa, in which case it is positioned as a fast food. In Ghana, it is eaten with corn or millet porridge at breakfast.
Popular Akara Variations
Akara recipe may show several variations from place to place. Some Akara recipes suggest beating of egg into the batter to make it more compact on frying, while some others suggest the addition of cooked meat, prawns or shrimp to the batter.
Health and Nutrition Facts about Akara
Black eyed peas, the principal ingredient as per the Akara recipe, is known to be beneficial for health by virtue of the various minerals and vitamins it contains. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. It also contains essential vitamins like A and C.