Akara I Recipe - Vegetarian Senegalese Dish | Food Recipes

Akara I

Akara I Recipe - Vegetarian Senegalese Dish | Food Recipes
Region / culture: Senegal | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Akara I
Akara I

Akara, a traditional African fritter, is a popular street food and a staple in many West African countries. Made primarily from black-eyed peas, onions, and spices, these fritters are a delicious and nutritious snack or side dish. This recipe offers a step-by-step guide to making authentic Akara, ensuring you can bring a taste of Africa into your kitchen.


The origins of Akara can be traced back to West Africa, where it has been a significant part of the diet for centuries. It is believed to have originated from the Yoruba people in Nigeria and has spread throughout the region due to trade and migration. Akara plays a vital role in the culinary traditions of many West African countries, each adding its unique twist to the recipe.


How to prepare

  1. Clean the black-eyed peas by rinsing them in running water. Soak them in water for several hours or overnight. After soaking, rub them between your hands to remove the skins. Rinse again to remove any remaining skins and debris. Drain them using a colander.
  2. Crush, grind, or mash the black-eyed peas until they form a thick paste. Add enough water to create a smooth, thick batter that clings to a spoon. Include all other ingredients except for oil. Some people prefer to let the batter stand for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator, as it enhances the flavor.
  3. Heat oil in a deep skillet. Beat the batter using a wire whisk or wooden spoon for a few minutes. Scoop up a spoonful of batter and use another spoon to quickly drop it into the hot oil, forming fritters. Deep fry the fritters until they turn golden brown, making sure to turn them frequently while frying. If the fritters fall apart in the oil, you can stir in a beaten egg, cornmeal, or crushed breadcrumbs to help bind them together.
  4. Serve the fritters as a snack, appetizer, or side dish, accompanied by an African Hot Sauce or salt.
  5. Variation: To add more flavor, incorporate half a cup of finely chopped leftover cooked meat into the batter before frying. Alternatively, you can add a similar amount of dried shrimp or prawns.


  • Add finely chopped vegetables like bell peppers or carrots to the batter for extra flavor and nutrition.
  • For a spicy kick, increase the amount of hot red pepper or add a teaspoon of chili powder.
  • Incorporate herbs such as parsley or cilantro for a fresh twist.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your Akara turns out perfectly, consider these tips:

- Use a food processor or blender to achieve a smooth batter.

- Let the batter rest to enhance the flavors.

- Ensure the oil is hot enough before frying to prevent the fritters from absorbing too much oil.

- Fry in small batches to maintain the oil temperature.

Serving Suggestions

Akara can be served as a snack, appetizer, or side dish. It pairs wonderfully with African Hot Sauce, ketchup, or a simple sprinkle of salt. For a complete meal, serve alongside a portion of Jollof rice or with a fresh salad.

Cooking Techniques

Deep-frying is the traditional method for cooking Akara, but for a healthier version, you can bake them in the oven at 375°F (190°C) until golden brown, or use an air fryer to reduce oil absorption.

Ingredient Substitutions

If black-eyed peas are unavailable, you can use other beans like cannellini or navy beans as a substitute.

- For a gluten-free option, use cornmeal or gluten-free breadcrumbs to help bind the fritters if needed.

Make Ahead Tips

The Akara batter can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, allowing the flavors to meld together and saving you time when you're ready to cook.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Akara on a platter garnished with sliced onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. For an elegant touch, place each fritter on a small lettuce leaf.

Pairing Recommendations

Akara pairs beautifully with sweet and spicy sauces. Try serving it with a side of mango chutney or a cucumber yogurt dip for a refreshing contrast to the fritters' richness.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Akara in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or air fryer to restore their crispiness. Avoid microwaving as it can make them soggy.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A typical serving of Akara contains approximately 250-300 calories, making it a moderate-calorie option suitable for a snack or part of a meal. The exact calorie count can vary based on the size of the fritters and the amount of oil absorbed during frying.


A serving of Akara is a good source of carbohydrates, providing the energy needed to fuel your day. The primary source of carbs in this recipe comes from the black-eyed peas, contributing to the overall dietary fiber content, which is beneficial for digestive health.


The fat content in Akara primarily comes from the vegetable oil used for frying. Using a healthier oil option like canola or sunflower oil can reduce the presence of unhealthy saturated fats, making the dish a heart-friendly choice.


Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, making Akara a great option for vegetarians and vegans. The protein content helps in muscle repair and growth, making these fritters not only tasty but also nutritious.

Vitamins and minerals

Akara is rich in various vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, thanks to the black-eyed peas and vegetables used in the recipe. These nutrients play a crucial role in maintaining overall health, from supporting immune function to enhancing bone strength.


The primary allergen concern in Akara is legumes, as black-eyed peas are a common allergen for some individuals. Additionally, cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients may occur if the same oil or utensils are used for other recipes.


Overall, Akara is a nutritious option that provides a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit various dietary needs and preferences.


Akara is a versatile and nutritious dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Whether you're looking for a hearty snack, a unique appetizer, or a flavorful side dish, this recipe offers a delicious way to experience the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. With its simple ingredients and easy-to-follow steps, you can create a batch of these delightful fritters to share with family and friends.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the sense of anticipation I felt when I first saw this recipe for Akara. It was many years ago, when I was just a young girl living in Nigeria. My grandmother had invited me into the kitchen to help her prepare a special dish for a family gathering. As she handed me the list of ingredients and began to explain the process, I could sense the importance of this recipe.

Akara is a traditional Nigerian dish made from black-eyed peas that have been soaked, peeled, and ground into a paste. The paste is then seasoned with onions, peppers, and spices before being deep-fried until golden brown. It is a popular breakfast food in Nigeria, often served with pap or bread.

As my grandmother guided me through each step of the recipe, I listened intently, absorbing every detail. She told me that Akara was a dish that had been passed down through generations of our family, each cook adding their own unique twist to the recipe. She spoke of the importance of tradition and the value of preserving our culinary heritage.

I watched as my grandmother deftly peeled the black-eyed peas, her hands moving with a practiced ease. She explained that the key to making good Akara was to ensure that the paste was not too watery or too thick. It needed to be just the right consistency to hold together when fried.

As we mixed in the onions, peppers, and spices, the aroma of the ingredients filled the kitchen, creating a sense of warmth and comfort. My grandmother told me stories of her own childhood, of how she had learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, just as I was learning now.

Finally, it was time to fry the Akara. My grandmother showed me how to carefully drop spoonfuls of the paste into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. As the Akara sizzled and bubbled, turning a beautiful golden brown, my mouth watered in anticipation.

When the Akara was ready, my grandmother carefully lifted them out of the oil and placed them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. She sprinkled them with a pinch of salt and handed me one to try. As I bit into the crispy, savory fritter, I knew that this recipe would become a cherished part of my own culinary repertoire.

Over the years, I have made Akara countless times, each batch reminding me of that day in my grandmother's kitchen. I have shared the recipe with friends and family, passing on the tradition that was so generously given to me.

As I sit here now, preparing Akara for another family gathering, I can't help but feel grateful for the lessons my grandmother taught me that day. Not just about cooking, but about the importance of tradition, of family, and of preserving our cultural heritage. And as I take a bite of the golden brown Akara, I know that these lessons will continue to nourish me for years to come.


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