AKARA (FRIED BEAN BALLS)

 

Beans are a common ingredient in the diet of many African people including those who have moved west to the Caribbeanand beyond. The black-eyed variety, from which Akara (or Koosé as it is also known) is made, is a versatile and wonderful favourite. Akara is one of many recipes taken to the West Indies during the iniquitous slave trade. To this day Akara is called ‘Akkra’ in Jamaica; ‘Accra’ in Trinidad and Tobago; but ‘Calas’ in New Orleans!

These fried bean balls are light and tasty and the recipe is common throughout West Africa, particularly among Muslims. Fastidious cooks go to the trouble of skinning the beans before mashing them for cooking, but I feel as though I am losing the quality and colour if I do that. It’s up to you.

 

250 g (½ lb) black-eyed beans

1 - 2 red chillies (hot peppers), finely diced

1 medium onion, finely diced

5 g (1 teaspoon) salt

2 eggs

125 ml (4 fl oz) water

salt to taste

groundnut (peanut) or other vegetable oil for deep-frying

 

Soak the beans overnight in 1 litre (1 ¾ pt) cold water. There are two methods of preparing the beans. If you decide to use the peeling method, alternately thresh the soaked beans between your palms and rinse them in water so the skins wash away. Repeat the process until all the beans are skinned and you are left with white beans. Alternatively, if you choose not to peel the beans then you simply rinse them several times.

Blend the beans in small batches, adding small amounts of the water to make it easier. Blend the first batch of beans with the chilli (hot pepper), onion, salt and eggs. When all the beans are blended, combine the thick puréed mixture with a hand whisk to aerate the mixture.

Heat the oil in a deep fry pan until it is very hot. With clean wet hands, form balls of mixture and gently drop them into the oil and fry until golden brown. Be careful the oil does not splash your hands. You may prefer to use a long-handled spoon. Fry the balls quickly in batches and drain them in a wire sieve lined with paper towels. Serve hot or cold.

 

Serves 4 - 6.

 

country : Mali

course : vegetarian dish

 

source : A Taste of Africa : With over 100 traditional African recipes adapted for the modern cook / Dorinda Hafner