Akara also know as Bean Cakes, Bean Balls, Bean Fritters, Acarajé (Portuguese) or Koose is a popular West African Snack/Meal. It is also found in Brazilian cuisine brought to Brazil by the West African Slaves. It was first sold during colonial times by freed slaves which served as an important source of income to the former slaves after the abolition of slavery in 1886.
Akara is made from beans puree/batter spiced with tomatoes, pepper and many other ingredients depending on your choice, cut and rolled into balls, then deep fried with a preferred oil. It is usually eaten as a snack, appetizer or as a breakfast dish, served with “Pap” ( fermented corn dough porridge), bread, custard or oatmeal. Beans cakes snack are rich in protein and is known to provide a healthy alternative to your meat and animal proteins.
Guess what, Akara is good for you, yeah. The health benefits that comes with eating the main ingredient (beans) are enormous. Let’s quickly go through some of these health benefits and how to prepare this delicious snack.
It Is Rich In Nutrients
Aside protein, complex carbs and fiber, beans contain a powerhouse of nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Menstruating women, who are at risk of iron deficiency, can also benefit from eating Akara. It is also an ideal food for pregnant women to help produce a healthy baby.
It Balances the Blood Sugar
Beans contain a beautiful blend of complex carbohydrates and protein. Because of this, beans are digested slowly, which helps keep blood glucose stable, and may curtail fatigue and irritability.
Low In Fat
Most beans are about 2 to 3 percent fat and contain no cholesterol unless they’re processed or prepared with other ingredients.
Good For The Heart
Beans contain an abundance of soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Ditch canned ground beans to avoid the sodium used to preserve it.
It Reduces The Risk of Cancer
They are filled with great antioxidants and fiber which promote overall health and prevent serious diseases like cancer.
Now lets talk about the ingredients needed and steps in making this delicious snack
In most recipes, black-eyed beans are used but when they are not available, any other related bean such as cowpea can be used.
• 1/2 lb dried black-eyed or brown beans
• 2 small onions
• 2 habanero red pepper
• 1 Bell pepper (optional)
• Salt to taste
• Vegetable/ Olive oil for frying
• Any other ingredients of your choice
• Mortar and pestle
Note this: The health benefits that comes with eating Akara depends on the oil used in frying it. It should be cholesterol free.
• Soak beans in water overnight or for few hours. Drain and peel the coat from the beans.You can peel off the coat by rubbing beans between hands or using porter and pestle.
• Blend the beans with your blender making sure you add as little water as possible. The water should be just enough to move the blades of your blender.
• Pour the batter into a large Bowl and whisk or pour in a mortar and stir in a circular motion using the pestle. Stir together until it’s light and fluffy (you will notice the change in texture when you whisk).
• Blend the habanero, bell peppers and Onions in a separate bowl and mix it together with the beans paste.
• Add Salt to taste (this recipe is very sensitive to salt so be careful a little goes a long way) then mix everything together.
• Place some oil in a pan (enough to deep fry the Akara.)
Scoop and fry till golden brown. It’s good to press down the Akara balls a little bit just to get rid of any excess oil that might have been absorbed during the frying process.
• Remove from heat and serve with pap, custard or fresh bread or any of your choice. Enjoy!
Making Akara may seem like rocket science but with practice you will perfect this recipe. If you do not get it right the first time, try again. The first time is the hardest but it will get better with time. Hope you enjoyed reading and you will give this awesome recipe a try.
Akara is a beans dough and excessive consumption of beans may not be good to the health because of the content of Lectin (protein in beans) which can cause digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, belching, indigestion and much more.
…health foods, healthy lives.