How To Make Akara (Bean Cakes) Recipe

Akara bean cake
Sources: Dreamstime
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You know those addictive little bean cakes they serve as an appetizer at your favorite Nigerian restaurant? The ones that are crispy on the outside and soft and savory on the inside? Well, my friend, you’re in luck. With just a few simple ingredients you likely have on hand, you can make your very own batch of akara – those moreish African fritters – right in your own kitchen. In this easy-to-follow recipe, I’ll walk you through step-by-step how to soak and blend the beans, season the batter to perfection, then fry up delightfully golden bean cakes that will have your taste buds doing a happy dance. So put on your apron and let’s get cooking some akara!

Ingredients

To make akara, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour or cornstarch
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Optional Garnishes

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced onions
  • Chili pepper
  • Fresh lime juice

Step-By-Step Instructions For Preparing Akara

Soak The Beans

Place 2 cups of dried black-eyed peas in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight or for at least 8 hours. This will soften the beans and speed up cooking time. Drain and rinse the beans.

Mash The Beans

Add a pinch of salt, 1/2 finely chopped onion, 1 seeded and minced chili pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, 2 teaspoons curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme to the beans and mash them coarsely. You want the beans to remain chunky, so don’t overmash. A potato masher or fork works well for this.

Make The Batter

Add 1/2 cup of flour or cornstarch and 2 beaten eggs to the mashed beans. Mix until well combined. The batter should be thick and hold its shape. Add more flour or cornstarch 1 tablespoon at a time if too thin.

Heat The Oil

Add 3 to 4 inches of vegetable, canola, or peanut oil to a deep pot or Dutch oven and heat to 350 ⁰F.

Fry The Bean Cakes

Scoop rounded tablespoons of the bean batter and drop into the hot oil, flattening into circular cakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve

Serve the akara hot, warm, or at room temperature. Enjoy them on their own, in a sandwich, or as a side to a main dish like pap, custard, moin moin, efo riro, or jollof rice. Akara also pairs well with a chili sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

Cooking Tips For Perfectly Fried Akara

To make light and crispy akara bean cakes, pay attention to these key tips. Following these steps will ensure your akara turns out perfectly fried every time.

Soak The Beans Overnight

Dried black-eyed peas need to be soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight before blending into a paste. Soaking helps soften the beans and reduces cooking time. Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly after soaking to remove the starchy water and any debris.

Blend Until Smooth

Add the softened beans, chopped onions, and spices to a food processor or blender. Blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. For the creamiest akara, blend for 3 to 5 minutes until the paste is very fine. The finer the blend, the lighter your akara will be.

Heat Oil To 350 ⁰F

Choose a neutral high-heat oil with a high smoke point like canola, peanut or vegetable oil. Pour oil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches in a deep pot or Dutch oven. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 ⁰F. Use a kitchen thermometer to monitor the temperature. Oil that is too cool won’t fry the akara properly, while overheated oil will burn it.

Scoop And Fry

Once the oil is hot, scoop rounded tablespoons of the bean paste and gently drop them into the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry the akara in batches so you don’t reduce the oil temperature.

Drain And Serve

Fry the akara until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with more salt and chopped onions if desired. Enjoy your akara warm!

By following these tips, you’ll be enjoying light and crispy akara bean cakes in no time. Let me know if you have any other questions!

You may also like:
How To Make Delicious Fried Rice At Home: Nigerian Recipes

Serving Suggestions: Enjoy Akara As An Appetizer Or Snack

Akara and Custard
Source: Dreamstime

Akara makes for a delicious appetizer or snack enjoyed on its own or paired with a variety of sides. On their own, the crispy bean cakes are hard to beat when freshly fried. Simply sprinkle with a bit of salt and chili pepper or top with your favorite hot sauce for an extra kick.

With Pap Or Custard

Enjoy akara as a traditional Nigerian breakfast by serving it with pap (fermented corn pudding) or custard. The combination of crispy bean cakes with the smooth texture of pap or custard creates a satisfying and flavorful meal to start your day.

As A Meze

In West Africa, akara are commonly served as part of a meze, or appetizer spread. Alongside the bean cakes, you might find sliced plantains, moin moin (black-eyed pea fritters), puff puff (fried dough), and fresh or grilled vegetables. A spicy peanut dipping sauce also pairs perfectly for dunking.

In A Wrap Or Bun

For a quick and satisfying snack, tuck a few akara into a wrap, bun or bread roll along with sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and a creamy spread like mayonnaise or chili garlic sauce. The cooling veggies and rich sauces balance the hearty, savory bean cakes.

As A Side

Akara works well as a starchy side to accompany a variety of main dishes. They pair especially nicely with pepper soup, egusi soup, or any dish with a flavorful broth or sauce for soaking up. Akara can also be enjoyed as a side to rice, mashed plantains or fufu.

For Breakfast

In some regions of Nigeria, akara are eaten for breakfast with corn or millet porridge. The protein-packed bean cakes provide sustenance to power you through the morning. You can also serve them as a side to more familiar breakfast fare like scrambled eggs, toast, or fresh fruit.

However you choose to enjoy your akara, they are sure to satisfy. Keep extras on hand—these crispy bean cakes are even better the next day and perfect for snacking. Your family and friends won’t be able to get enough!

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