Over the last year or so I’ve been trying to divulge in learning to cook Nigerian dishes to get closer to my heritage, but more so to have the best food for myself. Most recently I made akara for the first time – so here it is! If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is probably one of the simplest Nigerian recipes you will ever follow.
Valentine’s is coming… tomorrow! It’s not too late to buy the ingredients to serve your partner (or yourself) breakfast in bed.
I’m so sorry I have no measurements because generally I do everything by eye.
– – – peeled beans
– – – scotch bonnet
– – – blender
– – – deep fryer
First of all, you’ll need to get a hold of some beans. If you’re about that life you can get black-eyed or brown beans and peel them yourself. Or you can buy peeled beans like I have here from an African food supermarket. Next you need to wash and soak your beans in water for an extended period of time of 2 hours plus. I soaked mine overnight. This is essential since they need to be soft enough for blending.
After that, wash the beans clean and chuck them in a blender with a scotch bonnet and minimal water – just enough to get the blender going. I saw some recipes that included onion but when I spoke to my mum, she said I didn’t have to include it, so I didn’t.
Now it’s time to transfer the beans from the blender to a bowl and mix the beans with some salt. Mine ended up a bit too salty so don’t be as heavy-handed as I was. Stir some more to add air to the mixture. I’m not sure that I mixed mine enough, but to my untrained eye they seemed fine in the end.
Heat some oil in a pan, usually I would use a deep pan or deep fryer, but I don’t feel like it’s feasible to have one in student accommodation. Use enough oil that your bean cakes won’t hit the bottom of the pan. Be safe and make sure the oil isn’t too hot that it will splatter, you can test this by adding a tiny bit of batter to the oil. After the oil has reached the right temperature, start adding the batter with a spoon, it helps to slightly dip the spoon in the oil. Try not to get little bits of batter in the oil like I did.
Let each side fry for five minutes or less, until they have a golden colour. It’s a bit hard for me to fry things at my current residence since it has an induction hob and it always seems to work against me by turning off when I’m in the middle of cooking. This could be to do with my pans not being suited for an induction hob, hence why I must use an induction plate to adapt. There was no way I was buying a whole new set of pots in my third year of university!
When the akara is done cooking, I choose to use the combination of a spoon and a fork to drain them of oil, flipping them on the spoon to drain twice. Then for the inevitable excess oil, make sure to plate them in a dish lined with paper towels.
Usually I’d eat my akara with Uncle John’s Bakery Sweet Bread. It is divine and this Ghanaian bakery in North London holds a special place in my childhood – I remember grabbing bits of bread, rolling them into balls and munching them. It saddens me that I’m not able to get a hold of this bread while I’m in university, but sometimes my mum will buy me some to take. They sell it in the corner shop across the road from me, however my mum insists on going all the way to the bakery for purchase. Only the freshest permitted!
You can also eat your akara with garri, pap, or custard – I choose to stick with bread. Let me know of your culture’s breakfast food in the comments!
Thank you for following along with my cooking shambles.