So, you have peeled the beans and you are thinking hmmmn, Dunni has said Gbegiri is a lot of work, am I ready for that? If I was standing in your kitchen, I would say to you, come on, go for it, go for it, go for it. I don’t know if to you I will represent the angel or the devil whispering in your ear. I choose to be the angel, the little red devil would probably suggest Akara. Lol. If you are having one of those saturday or sunday mornings where you just want to lay around and munch on something while you catch up on TV, hang around with your friends and family or finish a good book and you don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen, by all means make Akara.It is simple and quick, and you can serve with Pap topped with evaporated milk and sugar or Ijebu Garri with cold water and sugar. I vote the latter – my Ijebu blood talking.
Akara is simple and most of us grew up with a recipe of peeling the beans, blending the beans, chopping onions and ata rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper) and simply frying. YAWN!!!!!!! You should know by now, I take a classic recipe and turn it over on its head. Cooking is an art form and you should be free to express yourself.
So you’ll need
2 – 4cups Black eyed beans – depends on the number of people you are serving
1/2 cup of ground crayfish and/or Sardines – you can also use Anchovies: watch out for the salt
1/2 of a red onion
2 pieces of Ata Rodo – scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
1 handful of diced fried meat
Palm Oil or Olive oil
You read the title of this page correctly. A-k-a-r-a and not Moi-Moi (steamed savoury bean pudding – i think that’s the english translation). Lol. I’ve always thought Moi-Moi gets all the fun and Akara is its Plain Jane cousin. No sireee. My Akara wants to be noticed too. I’ve got a wicked Moi-Moi recipe and in a Moi-Moi vs Akara smack down, Moi-Moi would still win but Akara would be a worthy opponent. Lol
Here’s How to
1. Soak the beans for 15 – 20 minutes, peel the skin off the beans and blend. Here is where very many people get it wrong, and it will go downhill from here. When you are blending beans for Akara you use water sparingly. You have to be very, very careful here. If you use too much water, just get out the banana leaves, cellophane nylon or foil bowl and make moi-moi. It is as simple as that.
2. Add the beans to the blender and blend with cooking spoonful increments of water. Your blender will resist at first, but you have to keep mixing the beans around and adding water in small increments till it blends. Once the mixture moves around smoothly in the blender, stop adding water and let the blender do its job. Blend in as many portions as you like until all your beans have been blended. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you may be asking why I did not blend the beans with onions, tatashe (red bell pepper) and ata rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper). You leave them out when making akara, otherwise the mixture will not fry properly. With moi-moi on the other hand this doesn’t apply.
3. Decant into a bowl and mix in a clockwise motion to incorporate air into the paste and continue till you double or even triple the volume of the bean mixture. You need to do this for at least 10 – 15 minutes otherwise you will end up with flat Akara. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: when adding the ingredients in the next step, fold in carefully so you don’t lose all the air that you have spent 15 – 20mins of arm cardio whipping in. Lol
4. Divide the mixture into two. One for meat and the other for fish. In both bowls carefully fold in the crayfish, the onions and the ata rodo. Then add the meat to one bowl and the fish to the other bowl and carefully fold in. Add salt and/or seasoning cube and fold in shortly before frying. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: salt extracts water from bean paste, so if you add salt at the beginning, you will end up with a soggy mess. If this has been happening to you and you’ve always wondered what you had been doing wrong. That is it. You are adding salt too early. Always add it shortly before frying. Be careful with the salt and/or seasoning cube content, because sardines have already been salted, so is the fried meat.
5. There are two different camps when it gets to what kind of oil to use. Some will argue passionately about using Palm oil, the other camp will say no, use vegetable oil or olive oil or whatever light coloured oil. My maternal grandma was allergic to vegetable oil so Akara at Mama’s house was friend with Palm oil and I enjoyed it. Mummy on the other hand fried it with vegetable oil and I loved it too, so regarding this battle, I choose to be Switzerland. Whichever you prefer please use.
6. Heat your choice of oil till it is very hot and with a serving spoon pour in the beans mixture leaving enough room to turn each piece. Frying Akara is tricky too. Remember you have incorporated air into the mixture, so you need the heat of the oil to react with the mixture to puff up the Akara, so don’t turn it over too early or too late so you don’t end up with flat Akara. Very depressing
7. Let it fry till it is puffy and golden and sieve out of the oil. Place on a bed of kitchen paper to soak up some of the oil and your Akara is ready to be served. When you bite into each piece, notice the difference the crayfish makes in the taste, and also notice how the meat or sardines have crisped further in the hot oil leaving delicious chunks for you to nibble on. Eating Akara will never be the same again, trust me.