Bean

'Akara' aka bean or lentilĀ fritters

December 30, 2009
Photo by Kitchen Butterfly
Author Notes

Akara to Nigerians, Acaraje to Brazillians. These black-eyed bean fritters are perfect for the vegan breakfast table or lunch box and are also tasty when made with lentils. Commonly eaten with bread or corn pap, they are both street food (wrapped in newspapers) and homemade.... In our family, this was Saturday morning food, every Saturday. However, the road to making them is paved with hardwork and supreme effort to skin the beans. My version uses lentils or gram (lentil) flour (considering that the beans in Europe are polished making the skins even harder than normal to take off!). The first time I tried them, I was perfectly surprised to see how good they tasted, that next time, I livened them up with cumin seeds and chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves. - Kitchen Butterfly —Kitchen Butterfly

Test Kitchen Notes

Kitchen Butterfly's clever variation (well, 2 really) on akara are such fun to make and even more so to eat. The simpler lentil flour option makes for smooth, hearty spiced dumplings, speckled with soft chopped onions, cilantro and crushed cumin seed. The soaked and blended lentil and onion version is a bit lighter and the slightly grittier batter texture creates a gorgeous mottled golden exterior. A tip: If you try the latter version and find that the outside is browning while the inside remains soft -- don't worry, it firms up after sitting for a bit. You could also speed up this process by finishing the fritters in a hot oven. - Kristen —The Editors

  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup yellow lentils, sorted and stones/bit removed (or 150g gram flour)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • fresh chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dry roasted and lightly crushed cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil , for deep frying
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Soak the lentils in water for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Then rinse and blend with the 1/2 cup of water, chopped onions and fresh chilli pepper till a smooth, thick paste (like porridge) forms. You may need to stir the mixture around and pulse till you get a smooth paste. The batter should be of slightly thinner consistency than dips like hummus. If it is too thick, add more water by the tablespoonful and watch. This is because you want the fritters it to hold their shape when fried. If using lentil flour, blend onions and chilli pepper and mix with the flour and enough water to make a thick paste. Continue with next steps
  2. Then add the chopped cilantro and crushed cumin seeds to the mix. Stir well to combine.
  3. Add some salt to the batter. For this recipe, I used 1/2 a teaspoon of salt but adjust to your taste.
  4. Heat up oil in a deep pan. When oil is hot, scoop up some batter, using a tablespoon for large fritters or a teaspoon for smaller one. Gently lower the fritter batter into the hot oil, and continue till the pan is full.
  5. When the bottom of the fritters are brown, 2-3 minutes, turn over and let the other side brown.
  6. When both sides are browned, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen tissue or in a sieve.
  7. Serve with bread....preferably white bread and a cuppa.

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For the first 9 years of my life I hated food and really loved sugar till Wimpy (British Fast Food chain) changed my life! These days, all grown up, I've junked junk food and spend my days and nights on a quest - to find and share the sweet, sweet nectar that's food in The #NewNigerianKitchen! Dreaming, cooking, eating and writing...about and adoring a strong food community that's big and bold enough to embrace the world's diverse cuisines - I'm passionate about celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety. Why do I love food so? It is forgiving. Make a recipe. Have it go bad....but wake up tomorrow and you can have another go at succeeding! Only with food!