Let me start by saying, YOU WILL NOT FIND THIS RECIPE ANYWHERE!!!! Hahahahaha, I’m just being cheeky. My apologies for being away from posting recipes for over two weeks now, but what’s the best way to come back than to put up a recipe that you will not find online anywhere. Lol. Akara Osu holds many fond memories for a lot of us. It is the kind of Akara that isn’t commonly sold and mostly found in certain select areas in Lagos, mostly in the inner suburbs, and on the side of the expressway in the Ife area. Akara Osu is from the people of a small village Osu, in Osun State. It is also called Akara Kengbe. Some people call it Akara Elepo, but technically, Palm oil isn’t the only thing that makes this Akara all shades of awesome. Its amazing texture and taste starts waaaaaaaay before frying.
I have seen requests for this recipe for a while and why it never occurred to me to ask my mother, I don’t know. Akara wasn’t even on the plan on Sunday. I wanted to make Ojojo (water yam fritters, recipe HERE) for dinner, only to realise at the last minute that my water yam had gone bad from summer heat. Still craving something savoury and deep fried, i decided on Akara. I was on the phone with my mum, now that she has discovered the Whatsapp calling feature, we now have 3, sometime 4 hour gistathons. Thank goodness for Wifi. Lol. Anyways, for some reason, i remembered Akara Osu and I asked “Iya Ola, do you have a recipe”, she said sure and the next thing she said which resulted in a funny conversation which I put up on Instagram yesterday.
Here goes the conversation between Big Oladunni and Small Oladunni:
Small Dunni: Iya Ola, my water yam has gone bad, Ojojo off the menu for dinner, I am craving something deep fried, so I will make Akara. I need the recipe for Akara Osu.
Big Dunni: ah, if only you had a grinding stone, you would have loved it, in fact Iyenekere used to make one that will almost make you bite your fingers.
Me: wait, what!!!!! Grinding stone ke, Mummy are you kidding me.
Big Dunni: Yes now, to make Akara Osu properly, you need to get the beans in paste form. The second you add water in a blender, you have missed it.
Me: errr, there has to be a way round it. I am never using a grinding stone
Big Dunni: manage the blender like that, when next I come I will bring you a grinding stone and teach you how to use it for beans & pepper. Your Father didn’t let me teach you.
Me: (thank you Daddy), teach me how to use a grinding stone, Mummy, you do realise what I do right? My readers would faint.
Big Dunni: ehn, that doesn’t mean you still can’t learn now, you will teach them too
Me: . You are on your own o, bring grinding stone all the way from Lagos, do you know how much it weighs
Big Dunni: ehn, I will pay for an extra box. That grinding stone tastes sweeter, you have to taste it to believe
Me: Mummy, the stone doesn’t add flavour oooo. I have this argument all the time with people.
She didn’t agree. So, I am throwing open, do you guys want to learn how to grind beans and pepper with the stone, because my mother has grand ideas of teaching . Why it never occurred to me to use a food processor to blend beans for Akara, I don’t know. I didn’t use a single drop of water, and it blended it into paste form. It even looks like the same one from a grinding stone.
Ditch the blender forAkara .#theNewNigerianCookery.
But wait, do some of you truly believe that the grinding stone tastes sweeter? Hooow?
Anyways, the conversation continued,
Me: So, once I have the beans paste, I should whip air into it, right.
Big Dunni: oh yes, use the omorogun and stir in circular motions in one direction, but you already know that now.
Me: ah yes, I just wanted to be sure, because Akara Osu is slightly denser than regular Akara
Big Dunni: yes it is, but it is light at the same time, so you have to find a balance, because you don’t want to be eating Buns
Me: okay mummy, nodding my head. I didn’t even bother arguing. Omorogun ko, I love you Mummy, but little does she know about the #deathtoOmorugun hashtag.
7 minutes in a mixer, “I made the fluffiest Akara Osu in history” . The food processor peeled the beans (see how to HERE or to use a blender, click HERE), blended the beans and whisked air into it. #zeroeffort#theNewNigerianCookery #aintnobodygottimeforkitchenslavery. Beht, see the texture of that paste now, looks like buttercream
Continuing, the conversation between Big Oladunni and Small Oladunni Me: So, once I have the beans paste, I should whip air into it, right. Big Dunni: oh yes, use the omorogun and stir in circular motions in one direction, but you already know that now. Me: ah yes, I just wanted to be sure, because Akara Osu is slightly denser than regular Akara Big Dunni: yes it is, but it is light at the same time, so you have to find a balance, because you don't want to be eating Buns Me: okay mummy, nodding my head. I didn't even bother arguing. Omorogun ko, I love you Mummy, but little does she know about the #deathtoOmorugun hashtag 7 minutes in a mixer, I am about to make the fluffiest Akara Osu in history ???. Machine peeled the beans, blended the beans and whisked air into it. #zeroeffort #theNewNigerianCookery #aintnobodygottimeforkitchenslavery. Beht, see the texture of that paste now, looks like buttercream ???
So Tribe, this is how you become a kitchen gangster. Imagine Akara for dinner on a work night. No stress at all.
The conversation continued, and she was telling me that, for Akara Osu, you don’t chop the pepper like you would for regular akara. You are also supposed to grind it into a thick, rough paste. Then she continued again, stressing that I needed the grinding stone. I didn’t even argue this time. Yes, Mummy. Lol. Not using a single drop of water is the key to getting Akara Osu right. Of course trust Mummy to give me the 411. Apparently, even the kind of pan you use for frying is also essential. She said, don’t use a frying pan, use something that will give you proper deep frying. While she was talking, I kept remembering the “Agbari Ojukwu” pans the Iya Alase’s (commercial cooks) used for our family parties. it is also the same kind of wide round pan that sits on top of burning wood embers that is used for Akara Osu. The closest thing I have at home is a Wok, of which I told my brother to Google it and show it to Mummy if that will work. She said, yes, yes, that will work. It didn’t stop there.
She also told me that there is a method for scooping the bean paste into the hot oil. Her words “don’t use a spoon o”, use your hands, and scoop the paste towards you, and cup your palm to mimic a spoon and then pour into the hot oil. She ended with, watch your fingers, and she very well should because on my brother 5th birthday, i landed in the hospital, because i was scooping chin chin into the oil with my hand and accidentally dipped my hands lower than i planned straight into the hot oil. I can still remember the pain till today. The skin on the four fingers of my right hand peeled instantly, gosh the pain, the swelling afterwards, the blisters. Sorry to gross you out, but I have to WARN YOU. If you don’t feel comfortable using your hand, please use a spoon.
Go tell it on the mountains, you can now recreate the Akara Osu experience in the comfort of your homes. I am sure many of you haven’t tasted it in years. Well, now you can have it on the menu as often as you want. Let’s Cook
- 2 cups of peeled beans
- half an onion
- 1 piece of tatashe - bell pepper
- 1 - 2 pieces of ata rodo - scotch bonnet/habanero pepper/ chili - depending on your tolerance
- Salt - my mum said, don't use seasoning cubes
- Crayfish - optional
- Palm oil - for deep frying
- When you have finished peeling the beans, I suggest that you leave it to soak for a while to allow it get soft enough to be blended without water.
- Attach the knife blade to your food processor and pour in the beans
- Turn the dial to maximum and blend the beans until it forms a paste. You want it to be smooth, but not too smooth i.e. the beans would not be grainy, but in paste form, just as you would with a grinding stone. See pictures:
- With your bean paste ready, now blend the pepper. Again, no water, again, you want a rough chop. Rough enough that some of the natural water content of the pepper will make it form a paste too, but you will still be able to see slivers of the components
- Heat up enough palm oil in your Wok. While you whip air into the bean paste, the oil will be warming up ready for deep frying immediately.
- Transfer the bean paste into a stand mixer, attach the balloon whisk and let the engine run for 5 - 7 minutes. You will see the bean paste more than double if not triple in size and it becomes so light, it resembles butter cream. If you don't have a stand or hand mixer, use the whisk attachment of your food processor. if you don't have that too, I'm afraid, it is the "omorogun" for you. Stir in circular motions in one direction only until the paste is fluffy.
- Add about 4 tablespoons of the pepper paste
- Whisk again for another minute or two to incorporate.
- Your end result will be a light peach looking paste, almost like moin moin. You know you don't get this with regular akara. With regular akara, you get a colour contrast of the white bean paste and then flecks of chopped chili and onion. Not the same for Akara Osu
- Scoop with your hands or a spoon into the now hot oil. Always remember to do a tester, to check if the oil is hot enough, before frying a batch. . Only when the oil is hot enough do you add salt, because salt leaches out water, and if you leave the paste salted waiting for the oil to get hot, water will start to leach out and make the paste heavy. All that air you whisked in will collapse, and your akara will be dense and have a funny shape. Trust me, it happened to me, because i was taking pictures of batch 1, by the time i was ready for batch 2, what i just warned you about happened.
- Salt to your taste, then fry. If your bean paste is fluffy enough, it won't even sink into the oil. It will float immediately. This ensures that the akara doesn't absorb too much oil at all.
- Fry as many batches as your bean paste can provide. If you followed the recipe closely, you should get the signature texture and crunch of Akara Osu. This was my very first time and I nailed it. You would too
The bestest, bestest, bestest part of frying Akara are these leftover crumbs.