Healthy Baked Akara: A Lighter Twist On A West African Favorite

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Akara, also known as bean fritters, are a staple breakfast dish in West Africa, particularly Nigeria. Traditionally deep-fried, this recipe offers a healthier alternative by baking the akara, resulting in a crispy exterior and soft, fluffy interior.

This recipe yields approximately 15-20 akara fritters, perfect for a satisfying breakfast or anytime snack.

Healthy Baked Koose/Akara (West African Black-Eyed Pea Cake)
Healthy Baked Koose/Akara (West African Black-Eyed Pea Cake)

Ingredients:

2 cups peeled black-eyed peas (dried)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper (seeds removed for less heat, optional)
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (seeds removed for less heat, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground shrimp (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground crayfish (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil spray for coating the baking sheet

  • Directions:

    1. Prepare the Black-Eyed Peas: Rinse the dried black-eyed peas thoroughly in a colander. Soak them in a large bowl of water for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse the peas again.

    2. Grind the Batter: In a food processor or blender, combine the soaked black-eyed peas, chopped onion, habanero pepper (if using), scotch bonnet pepper (if using), shrimp powder (if using), crayfish powder (if using), salt, black pepper, cilantro, and parsley. Blend until you get a smooth and slightly coarse batter.

    3. Add Dry Ingredients: Transfer the batter to a large bowl and fold in the all-purpose flour. Mix well until just combined. Be careful not to overmix, as this can make the akara tough.

    4. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil.

    5. Shape and Bake: Using a spoon or your hands, scoop out portions of the batter and shape them into small patties, about 2-3 tablespoons each. Arrange the akara patties on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between them for even baking. Lightly spray the tops of the akara with vegetable oil.

    6. Bake the Akara: Bake the akara for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Flip the akara halfway through baking for even browning.

    7. Serve and Enjoy: Serve your baked akara hot immediately with your favorite dipping sauce, such as tomato sauce, scotch bonnet pepper sauce, or simply enjoy them plain.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving, approximately):

    Calories: 150

  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 250mg (depending on added salt)
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Protein: 8g

  • Conclusion

    Baked akara offers a delightful and nutritious alternative to deep-fried akara. This recipe is easy to follow and delivers a crispy, flavorful dish that is perfect for any occasion.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    1. Can I substitute black-eyed peas with another bean?

    Yes, you can substitute black-eyed peas with other beans like pinto beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas. However, the taste and texture might vary slightly.

    2. How can I make the akara spicier?

    If you prefer a spicier akara, you can leave the seeds in the habanero and/or scotch bonnet peppers when blending the batter. Additionally, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the batter for extra heat.

    3. Can I freeze the akara batter?

    Yes, you can freeze the akara batter for up to 3 months. Thaw the batter in the refrigerator overnight before using.

    4. How can I reheat leftover akara?

    Leftover akara can be reheated in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 5-7 minutes, or until warmed through. You can also reheat them in a toaster oven or air fryer for a crispier texture.

    5. What dipping sauces go well with baked akara?

    Baked akara pairs well with various dipping sauces. Some popular choices include tomato sauce, scotch bonnet pepper sauce (known as ata dina in Nigeria), suya pepper mix, or simply enjoy them plain.