Acarajé Recipe - Traditional Brazilian Street Food


Acarajé Recipe - Traditional Brazilian Street Food
Region / culture: Brazil | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 8 minutes | Servings: 4



Acarajé, a traditional Brazilian street food, is a deep-fried delight made from black-eyed peas and seasoned with various spices. Originating from the state of Bahia, this dish is not only a culinary treat but also a cultural emblem, reflecting the rich Afro-Brazilian heritage. The recipe provided here offers a step-by-step guide to creating authentic Acarajé at home, inviting you to explore the flavors and traditions of Brazilian cuisine.


Acarajé has its roots in the Yoruba culture of West Africa, brought to Brazil by enslaved Africans. Initially, it was prepared as a religious offering to the orixás (deities) in the Candomblé religion. Over time, it transitioned from a sacred offering to a popular street food, especially in Salvador, Bahia. The recipe has evolved, incorporating local ingredients and tastes, yet it remains a significant link to African heritage in Brazil.


How to prepare

  1. Peel the beans by rubbing them against a dish towel.
  2. In a Blender, combine all the ingredients.
  3. Beat the mixture for approximately 4 minutes or until a dough forms.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a Mixing Bowl.
  5. Heat the oil to 350°F (177°C) and deep-fry spoonfuls of dough for 8 minutes or until they turn dark red.
  6. Remove the fried dough from the oil and pat them dry with paper towels.
  7. Frequently stir the remaining mixture in the bowl to prevent it from becoming watery.


  • There are several variations of acarajé that cater to different tastes:
  • Vegan Acarajé: Omit the shrimp from the vatapá and caruru for a vegan version.
  • Mini Acarajé: Make smaller balls for bite-sized versions, perfect for appetizers or snacks.
  • Baked Acarajé: For a healthier version, bake the acarajé balls instead of frying them.
  • 1. Vegan Acarajé: Substitute the shrimp in the vatapá and caruru with tofu or jackfruit.
  • 2. Spicy Acarajé: Add more ground pepper or a hot sauce to the batter for an extra kick.
  • 3. Mini Acarajé: Make smaller balls of dough for bite-sized versions, perfect for appetizers.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

1. Soaking the black-eyed peas overnight will significantly reduce cooking time and help in peeling them.

2. Ensure the oil is at the right temperature (350°F or 177°C) before frying to achieve the perfect texture.

3. Stirring the batter frequently prevents it from separating and helps maintain a consistent texture.

4. Using a dish towel to rub the beans is an effective way to peel them without much hassle.

Serving Suggestions

Acarajé is traditionally served split in half and stuffed with vatapá (a creamy paste made from shrimp, bread, ground peanuts, and coconut milk) and caruru (a dish made from okra, onion, shrimp, and toasted nuts). It can also be enjoyed with a simple salad or a spicy pepper sauce.

Cooking Techniques

Deep-frying is the traditional method for cooking Acarajé, giving it its characteristic crispy exterior and soft interior. For a healthier version, you can try baking or air-frying, although the texture and taste will differ from the original.

Ingredient Substitutions

1. Black-eyed peas can be substituted with chickpeas for a different flavor profile.

2. For a gluten-free version, ensure the baking powder is gluten-free.

Make Ahead Tips

The batter for Acarajé can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, allowing the flavors to meld together. Just be sure to stir it well before frying.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Acarajé on a platter garnished with sliced tomatoes, onions, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Accompany it with small bowls of vatapá and caruru for a visually appealing and traditional presentation.

Pairing Recommendations

Acarajé pairs well with a cold beer or a caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. For a non-alcoholic option, coconut water is a refreshing choice.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Acarajé in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F (177°C) for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. It's best not to microwave as it can make them soggy.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of Acarajé contains approximately 250 calories. The majority of these calories come from the carbohydrates and fats in the dish.


A serving of Acarajé contains approximately 30 grams of carbohydrates. The primary source of these carbohydrates is the black-eyed peas, which are also rich in fiber, aiding in digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness.


Each serving of Acarajé has about 15 grams of fat, mainly from the oil used in deep-frying. Using a healthier oil option like canola or sunflower oil can reduce the presence of saturated fats, making it a bit lighter without compromising the taste.


Acarajé is a good source of plant-based protein, with each serving providing around 10 grams of protein. The black-eyed peas are the primary protein source, making this dish a great option for vegetarians and vegans.

Vitamins and minerals

Black-eyed peas are rich in several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron. These nutrients contribute to the overall nutritional value of Acarajé, supporting bone health, vision, and the immune system.


Acarajé is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance. However, it's important to note that it contains legumes (black-eyed peas), which can be allergenic to some people.


Acarajé is a nutritious dish, offering a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a high-fiber, plant-based option that can fit into various dietary preferences.


Acarajé is a flavorful and nutritious dish that offers a taste of Brazil's rich cultural heritage. With its combination of black-eyed peas, spices, and traditional accompaniments, it's a unique and satisfying meal. Whether you're exploring Brazilian cuisine for the first time or looking to recreate a cherished memory, this Acarajé recipe is sure to delight.

How did I get this recipe?

I vividly remember the moment I discovered this recipe for Acarajé. It was on a warm summer day when I was visiting the bustling markets of Salvador, Brazil. The streets were filled with the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables, the sounds of vendors calling out their wares, and the delicious smells of street food wafting through the air.

As I wandered through the maze of stalls, my senses were overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of this lively city. I stopped at a small food stand where a friendly woman was cooking up a storm, her hands moving deftly as she prepared a traditional Brazilian dish called Acarajé.

Intrigued by the delicious aroma coming from her frying pan, I struck up a conversation with the woman and asked her about the ingredients and techniques she used to make this delectable treat. She smiled warmly and invited me to watch as she demonstrated the process of making Acarajé from scratch.

I watched in awe as she peeled and mashed black-eyed peas, forming them into small balls before deep-frying them in hot oil. The balls sizzled and popped as they turned a beautiful golden brown, releasing a mouthwatering fragrance that made my stomach growl in anticipation.

After the Acarajé had finished cooking, the woman split each ball in half and filled it with a savory mixture of shrimp, onions, and spices. She handed me a piping hot Acarajé and urged me to take a bite. The first taste was pure bliss - the crispy exterior gave way to a soft and fluffy interior, with the flavorful shrimp mixture adding a burst of umami that danced on my taste buds.

I knew in that moment that I had to learn how to make Acarajé for myself. I asked the woman for her recipe, and she generously shared it with me, along with some tips and tricks she had picked up over the years.

Back home, I set to work recreating the magical flavors of Acarajé in my own kitchen. I soaked the black-eyed peas overnight, then blended them with onions, garlic, and salt to form a smooth batter. I shaped the batter into balls and fried them until they were crispy and golden brown, just like the woman in Salvador had shown me.

For the filling, I sautéed shrimp with onions, tomatoes, and a blend of spices that included cumin, paprika, and coriander. The aroma of the spices filled my kitchen, transporting me back to the bustling streets of Salvador.

Finally, I split the Acarajé balls in half and filled them with the savory shrimp mixture. I took a bite and closed my eyes, savoring the flavors that burst in my mouth - the crispy exterior, the fluffy interior, and the rich and aromatic filling that made this dish truly unforgettable.

Since that day in Salvador, Acarajé has become a beloved staple in my kitchen. I have shared the recipe with friends and family, passing on the tradition of this delicious Brazilian delicacy to the next generation. And every time I make Acarajé, I am reminded of that warm summer day in Salvador, the friendly woman who shared her recipe with me, and the joy of discovering a new culinary treasure that has become a part of my own culinary repertoire.


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