Akara, also known as bean balls, is a product of beans. While growing up, akara and pap was Saturday morning delicacy in our home. While we all looked forward to this meal, we also dreaded one task that inevitably comes with it. That task is beans peeling. Because we take turns to do this chore, whoever had the beans peeling responsibility for the week wished the weekly breakfast ritual away. This beans peeling anxiety continued until my cousin, Ifunanya brought to our doorstep the good news of peeling beans with blender. Although most of us had flown the coop by the time this news came, it was still a welcome relief. We tried it; it worked and we said bye-bye to the old way and welcomed the new. We have been enjoying akara and its sister, moi moi without stress since then.
Oya, let me tell you how to prepare this meal.
1 cup of beans
3 fresh pepper
2 onions (one medium and one small)
Remove dirt from the beans and soak in lukewarm water for about ten to fifteen minutes. When the time is up, remove the beans coat. This can be done manually or mechanically. Afterwards, pour clean water to let the beans coat float and use a sieve to discard it. When that is done, set the coatless beans aside.
Peel the onions, rinse and divide each one into four or more parts for easy blending. Remove the stem from the pepper and shombo (also deseed the shombo) and rinse them well.
If your blender is strong enough to blend beans, use it to blend the beans and the above mentioned ingredients. But if your blender is aje butter, put the beans and ingredients in a container then take it to any local store around you that offers grinding services. It’s very important to mention at this point that blending beans for akara requires as little water as possible. Akara requires a smooth, thick consistency. If you pour excess water into it, kuku make moi moi because you won’t like the look of the akara.
After blending, rinse your mortar and pestle for use. Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan. Akara calls for deep frying so the oil should be about 3 inches deep. Scoop a small quantity of the batter into the mortar. Use the pestle to stir it in circular motion. It’s important to add a little energy to the stirring process as this acts as a leavening agent to the akara. When you are satisfied with the texture, scoop the batter into another bowl and add salt to taste in readiness for frying.
Now, make sure you check the oil before frying. Why? Because the oil can only do a good job of frying if the temperature is right. If it’s too hot, you’ll end up with half-done akara. If it’s still warm, your akara will absorb too much oil. To avoid either of these results, a simple heat test is advised. Simply drop a small amount of batter into the pan. If it turns black immediately, then the oil is too hot. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool off. If the small batter sinks to the bottom of the pot with no reaction, know that the oil is still warm. Wait for it to heat up. If it sizzles but maintains its color, the oil is at an appropriate temperature. Use a tablespoon to scoop the batter into the oil. Do not overcrowd the frying pan. While this batch is frying, scoop the next batch into the mortar. Repeat the process of stirring vigorously while monitoring the akara on fire. It should be flipped half way through and should be fried until it is golden brown. Once it’s ready, use a frying spoon to lift it from the oil and into the waiting arms of a sieve. Serve hot with pap, custard or fresh bread.
Featured image source: One Green Planet