Acarajé (Akara with stuffing)

Tola had asked me to blog about Acarajé. Tola shared with me a beautiful part of her family history and how her grandfather had escaped slavery in Brazil and returned to Abeokuta. As such her dad who is now in his 80’s recalled that this is how Akara was made in his family while growing up in Abeokuta.

Acarajé is the Portuguese pronunciation for Akara. Made same was as our Akara/Kossai but fried with palm oil. When fried, the Acarajé balls are sliced in the middle and filled with stuffing called Vatapá. Vatapá is a shrimp paste that contains cashew nuts, peanuts, coconut milk, palm oil, vegetables and it pretty much varies from one cook to the other.

Though I was hesitant at first, because I’m not a sucker for Akara fried with palm oil, and I wasn’t sure i would enjoy the shrimp paste with cashews and peanuts, I decided to give it a try, because that is what foodies do anyways! Expectedly I didn’t enjoy the cashew and peanut shrimp paste, so I tried another without it and I really liked it.

Recipe

Acarajé

  • 2 cups Beans (i used honey Beans)
  •  2 scotch bonnet -atarodo-
  • 3 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe-
  • 1 small onion)
  • Salt (to taste )
  • 1 tbsp powdered crayfish
  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 750ml Palm oil (Red oil) for frying

Procedure

See Tips for Making Great Akara Balls here.
  • Soak beans and peel the skins off the beans till your beans is white to reveal the white inside.
  • In a blender, blend the beans till smooth. (*Don’t blend with too much water, 1 cup of water should be enough, blend the beans in small parts. If you are taking it out to a public mill, take a separate bowl  to collect the water*)
  •  Now mix the paste till it is very fluffy. You can use a ladle, an egg whisk or a mixer to mix the paste.  Mixing is to incorporate as much air as possible into the paste. The paste should double or nearly double.
  • Add salt and seasoning and
  • Using a deep pan or wok, heat the oil up and deep fry the akara, scooping several tablespoons in at a time.
  • Cook each side for not less than 2 mins and flip the sides.
  • Once your akara is done, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the akara into a dish lined with paper towel or a sieve
See more on my Collection of 4 types of street akara
Fried balls

Vatapá

My adaptation.
  • 250g shrimps
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes and red pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped spring onions
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs (to bind the paste, alternatively use some flour)
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

  • Blend shrimp with coconut milk to a paste.
  • In a pot on medium heat, cook the shrimp blend till it comes to a boil
  • Add breadcrumbs, seasoning and some of your chopped vegetables, cook for 3-5 minutes and turn the heat off.
  • Save some vegetables to stir in.

Slice your fried bean balls in the middle and fill with the paste.

Enjoy.

Acarajé, Ogi, Coconut milk and some leftover Vatapá

Moinmoin 

I have a five year old son and I am raising him by God’s grace to be the best version of the man God has destined him to be. He loves to cook with me in the kitchen and I encourage him. We made this meal together and even made a video tutorial on How to wrap moinmoin in leaves.

I found a very inspiring post on Facebook that underscores the reason why I’m raising my son this way.

Read Excerpt below
“I’m Worried About Our Sons” By Funke Egbemode.Today, I am worried about our sons, today’s young men. I am truly worried and every mother should pause, take a closer look at her sons and daughters and answer this question: are you empowering your son for the journey ahead of him? Answer truthfully, after all you are alone and you don’t have to let anybody hear you…I think Nigerian mothers have not done well raising future husbands and fathers. Let’s admit it, we have not scored above average, that is if we achieved average at all…Take a closer look at your beautiful daughter and your handsome six-footer son. Who is better prepared for the task ahead? I know some of us had realised this and have done better than others but most Nigerian mothers need to buckle up. Our sons are not what they should be and we cannot have the society, the country we desire when we put unprepared men and overgrown boys in positions of authority….
It does not matter if women produce the next president and Central Bank Governor and 20 state governors, the achievement of Nigerian women and indeed women world over will continue to be marred if all we do is churn out half-baked and ill-equipped fathers and husbands. We cannot have a great society with just great women and less than good fathers and husbands…
We’ve got to pay more attention to the quality of sons we are raising. Are we teaching them the right values? Have you sat your boys down and told them only impotent men beat their wives? Have you told your sons a man is not man if he cannot provide for his wife and children, that the ‘dangling modifier’ in between his legs is not really what proves his manhood in his home? …Since this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspiring Change’, let us change the way we have brought up our boys. Let us teach them the skills that will protect their manhood beyond using the right condoms.

(First published in 2015)Culled from Facebook

Recipe

Ingredients

(Serves 8 – 10 persons)

  • 3 Cups peeled Beans (Honey Beans/ Oloyin)
  • 1 cup Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Cup Crayfish
  • 1 or 1 1/2 cup Stock (Fish/Beef/Chicken stock)
  • 4 Hard Boiled Eggs (chopped)
  • 500g Mackerel; boiled and Flaked
  • 1 onion
  • 8 (or more) Jalapeño (Bawa) Pepper or Tatashe
  • 2 Bouillon Cubes (Any season cubes of your choice e.g knorr) *or to taste
  • Salt (to taste)

Some of the ingredients used

Peeled Beans

Procedure

  • Blend Beans with pepper and onions to a smooth paste
  • Blended Beans paste (Ensure not make the paste too runny by adding too much water while blending about 500ml – 750 ml of water should be sufficient for blending this quantity of beans)

*Tip* Don’t ever add tomatoes to your beans paste, the acidity in the tomatoes will not allow you paste to set when it is cooked

  • In a mixing bowl, stir the paste well for at least one minute, then add your oil and stir thoroughly until the oil is properly incorporated.
  • Add your salt, crushed bouillon cubes and mix thoroughly till well incorporated.
  • Add the flaked fish and chopped eggs and mix.
  • Scoop into your leaves. (I have a preference for wrapping moinmoin in leaves as it is not only tastier in leaves, it is healthier. Cooking your food in polythene bags allows harmful chemicals to seep into your food. You can cook your moinmoin in ramekins)
  • Add about a cup or two of water to a pot, (preferably a steaming pot) if you don’t have a steaming pot, you can place the stalks you cut off from your leaves at the base of the pot as a barrier between the water and the wrapped moinmoin . Place the wrapped moinmoin on the barrier, cover the pot, you can cover it with more leaves to trap steam , cook on medium heat for at least 20 – 25 mins.
  • Your moinmoin is cooked when the paste sets and it’s cooked all the way though.

Cooked Moinmoin. Moinmoin is also called Olele in Yoruba

Akara: A collection of 4 types of the ultimate Street food. 

Sometime back I shared tips on making great Akara balls  (You can look up the tips in this LINK). Akara is a simple delicious meal to make. However, you know how simple tasks can throw huge curve balls at you. Akara has shamed many a cook several times. This is my no fail recipe for great Akara balls. Check it out. 

Akara down in the South Western part of Nigeria is a street food you’d most likely find at breakfast hour. Vendors would likely be found hawking it with Ogi  (corn or guinea corn or millet pap or a combination of these grains) or with Bread or both. 

In this post I have made a collection of four methods of making Akara. All can be made in the comfort of your Home.

Enjoy my celebration of the Ultimate Street food.

  1. Homemade Akara  (Method 1)
  2. Homemade Akara (Method 2)
  3. Akara Osu (Method 3)
  4. Akara Elepo -Akara Oyo- (Method 4)


Homemade Akara ( Method 1)

HOMEMADE AKARA METHOD 1 

Recipe

(Serves 6)

(*all measurements refer to standard measuring cups and spoons )

  • 2 cups Beans (i used honey Beans)

Ewa Oloyin (Honey Beans)

  • 2 tbsp roughly blended pepper mix (i used 2 scotch bonnet -atarodo- and 3 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe- and 1 small onion)
  • Salt (to taste )
  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)
  • 1 cup of water (a little more if your beans isn’t blending well but not more than 1/4 cup but it could be less)
  • 1 litre vegetable oil for frying (You could use palm oil if making akara elepo)

Procedure

  • Soak beans and peel the skins off the beans till your beans is white to reveal the white inside.
  • In a blender, blend the beans till smooth. *Don’t blend with too much water, 1 cup of water should be enough, blend the beans in small parts. If you are taking it out to a public mill, take a separate bowl  to collect the water*
  •  Now mix the paste till it is very fluffy. You can use a ladle, an egg whisk or a mixer to mix the paste.  Mixing is to incorporate as much air as possible into the paste. The paste should double or nearly double.

Kitchen Items you can use to mix your paste if you don’t have a mixer.

Steps 1 to 4 in Pictures

  • Once the paste is light and fluffy (the size would have doubled, if you are using a mixer, you’d achieve stiff peaks), fold in your blended pepper. *Add your seasonings and salt into the pepper mix before folding it into the paste* 


Step 4

  •  Using a deep pan, heat the oil up and deep fry the akara, scooping several tablespoons in at a time. Cook each side for not less than 2 mins and flip the sides.

Pictures of Step 5

  • Once your akara is done, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the akara into a dish lined with paper towel or a sieve.

I have an earlier post where I extensively discussed   Tips for making great Akara balls  please check it out for more than I shared here.

Breakfast combo Akara and Custard

HOMEMADE AKARA METHOD 2


Recipe

* Use the same recipe as in Method 1
Procedure

  • Blend Beans/Peppers/Onions together to a smooth paste.

  • Mix the blended paste till air is well incorporated and the paste has doubled (or nearly doubled) in size.
  • Add salt and seasoning to taste while mixing when the paste has risen, stop mixing after adding the salt and seasoning.
  • Deep fry in hot vegetable oil, on medium heat, allowing each side to cook for equal amount of time.
  • Scoop into sieve or a bowl lined with paper towel .

Serve hot or warm.

 AKARA OSU (Method 3)


Akara Osu

If you have ever traveled through the Ibadan/Ife Expressway, you’d be familiar with this akara popularly sold at the old toll gate entering into Ile Ife. It’s unique for its pale colour as compared to regular akara. It’s quite fluffy and dainty and you can be sure to have bread sellers shoving their wares into your face, so you can pair your bread with the Akara (Risky Burger it is called).

A bit of History Lesson.

After I shared this post on Facebook, two of the readers gave me a bit of history lesson on AKARA OSU . 

Yinka KuzyCosy Fagbohun said,

“Akara Osu got its name from Osu. Osu is a small town immediately after Ile- Ife and they are known for akara to badt whether elepo or olororo.Even with ede/prawn(whole). I remember when I was much younger(not like I am too agbalagba na oo 😀 ) , we used to travel through that town on our way to the village in Ekiti. And I always looked forward to us making a stopover at Osu for some sizzling hot and yummy akara with bread.

O dun baje.

The spot they are now on old Ile-Ife isn’t where they have always been. They moved because of the Ile- Ife / Ilesa expressway that had totally cut Osu off ,which meant less travellers on that Osu route .So the need to go meet the mountain. “

Ife Watson said

“I kind of still disagree with this notion that they are the ones who moved. Because I know most of the people selling Akara there now are from Modakeke in Ife. And the original Akara osu wasn’t even this pale. Also,  there’s still a spot on the Ilesha/Akure express where Akara Osu is still being sold. I grew up in Ife that’s why I’m insisting on my explanation 😊.”

Recipe

  • 2 cups White Beans


  • 1 tbsp  blended pepper mix (i used 1 scotch bonnet -atarodo- and 2 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe- and 1/2 a small onion)
  • Salt (to taste )
  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 litre vegetable oil for frying


Procedure.

  • Follow the steps in Method 1
  • Heat up the oil and fry multiple of the balls on heat that is between low and medium, fry each side for not longer than 30secs turning it constantly till it down. You don’t want the balls to take on a dark brown colour.

Scoop with a slotted spoon into a dish lined with paper towel or a sieve.

Akara Osu is peculiar for its pale colour with faint specs of pepper.

Risky Burger (Agege Bread and Akara Osu)


AKARA ELEPO (Method 4)

Akara Elepo

Akara Elepo sometimes referred to as Akara Kengbe. It’s characteristic feature is the roughness of the surface and jagged edges.


Recipe

  • 2 cups Beans (i used honey Beans)


  •  2 scotch bonnet -atarodo-


  • 3 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe-


  • 1 small onion)


  • Salt (to taste )


  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)


  • 1 cup of water


  • 750ml Palm oil (Red oil) for frying



Procedure

  • Peel Beans and blend to a slightly coarse paste. You should feel and see little granules of beans when you run it through your fingers.

This is the texture the beans would have

  • Use the next steps in either method 1 or two. You can blend the beans with or without the pepper. 


  • Mix well to incorporate air, add salt and seasoning and use a tablespoon to scoop into the heated oil and fry till well cooked.  

 Serve hot or warm.