Black-eyed pea fritters. Vigna unguiculata (known as black-eyed peas in America; usually called cowpeas in English-speaking Africa; also called china beans, and black-eyed beans) are native to Asia, the Middle East, and perhaps Africa. They were cultivated in the Mediterranean region in ancient times, and have been grown all over Africa for centuries. In Western Africa they are used to make a batter from which fritters are made. These fritters (known as accra, akara, akla, binch akara, bean balls, kosai, koose, kose, koosé, and kwasi) are commonly prepared at home for breakfast, for snacks, or as an appetizer or side dish. They are also fast-food, sold by vendors on the street, in marketplaces, and at bus stations. This same recipe, with a very similar name, is also known in the Caribbean.
Note that Akara take at least an entire day to prepare, in order to allow the black-eyed peas to soak and the batter to rest.
- 2 – 3 cups dried cowpeas (Black-Eyed Peas) or similar
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- hot chile pepper, and/or sweet green pepper or sweet red pepper, finely chopped (to taste)
- cayenne pepper or red pepper (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (or a few pinches of powdered ginger) (optional)
- peanut oil, palm oil, or vegetable oil for frying
- Clean the black-eyed peas in running water. Soak them in water for at least a few hours or overnight. After soaking them, rub them together between your hands to remove the skins. Rinse to wash away the skins and any other debris. Drain them in a colander.
- Crush, grind, or mash the black-eyed Peas into a thick paste. Add enough water to form a smooth, thick paste of a batter that will cling to a spoon. Add all other ingredients (except oil). Some people allow the batter to stand for a few hours (overnight in the refrigerator); doing so improves the flavor.
- Heat oil in a deep skillet. Beat the batter with a wire whisk or wooden spoon for a few minutes. Make fritters by scooping up a spoon full of batter and using another spoon to quickly push it into the hot oil. Deep fry the fritters until they are golden brown. Turn them frequently while frying. (If the fritters fall apart in the oil, stir in a beaten egg, some cornmeal or crushed breadcrumbs.)
- Serve with an African Hot Sauce or salt, as a snack, an appetizer, or a side dish.
- Variation: Add a half cup of finely chopped leftover cooked meat to the batter before frying; or add a similar amount dried shrimp or prawns.