Akara Somali-style Recipe - Delicious Vegetarian Dish

Akara Somali-style

Akara Somali-style Recipe - Delicious Vegetarian Dish
Region / culture: Somalia | Preparation time: overnight | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Akara Somali-style
Akara Somali-style

Akara, a popular dish in Somali cuisine, is a delightful fritter made from black-eyed peas or similar legumes. This dish, known for its crispy exterior and soft, flavorful interior, is a staple in many households and is often enjoyed as a snack, breakfast item, or side dish. The Somali-style Akara is unique in its use of spices and preparation methods, offering a taste that is both exotic and comforting.


The origins of Akara can be traced back to West Africa, where it is widely consumed across various countries. Over time, the recipe traveled across the African continent, adapting to local tastes and ingredients. In Somalia, the recipe has been embraced and modified, incorporating local flavors such as hot red pepper and ginger, making it distinct from its West African counterpart.


How to prepare

  1. Clean the black-eyed peas in running water.
  2. Soak them in water for at least a few hours or overnight.
  3. After soaking, rub them together between your hands to remove the skins.
  4. Rinse to wash away the skins and any other debris.
  5. Drain them in a colander.
  6. Crush, grind, or mash the black-eyed peas into a thick paste.
  7. Add enough water to form a smooth, thick paste or batter that will cling to a spoon.
  8. Add all other ingredients (except oil).
  9. Some people allow the batter to stand for a few hours (overnight in the refrigerator); doing so improves the flavor.
  10. Heat oil in a deep skillet.
  11. Beat the batter with a wire whisk or wooden spoon for a few minutes.
  12. Make fritters by scooping up a spoonful of batter and using another spoon to quickly push it into the hot oil.
  13. Deep fry the fritters until they are golden brown.
  14. Turn them frequently while frying (if the fritters fall apart in the oil, stir in a beaten egg, some cornmeal, or crushed breadcrumbs).


  • Add finely chopped vegetables, such as bell peppers or carrots, to the batter for added texture and nutrition.
  • Experiment with spices, such as cumin or coriander, for different flavor profiles.
  • For a non-vegetarian version, small pieces of cooked shrimp or fish can be added to the batter.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the perfect Akara, consider the following tips:

- Ensure the black-eyed peas are thoroughly cleaned and soaked to soften them, making the skin removal process easier.

- The consistency of the batter is crucial; it should be thick enough to cling to a spoon but not too dense.

- Allow the batter to rest, preferably overnight in the refrigerator, to enhance the flavors.

- Maintain the oil at the right temperature to avoid the fritters absorbing too much oil or becoming too dry.

Serving Suggestions

Akara can be served with a dipping sauce, such as a spicy tomato sauce or a tangy tamarind sauce. It also pairs well with porridge or alongside a fresh salad for a light meal.

Cooking Techniques

Deep-frying is the traditional method for cooking Akara, but for a healthier alternative, they can be baked in an oven preheated to 375°F (190°C) until golden brown, or air-fried at 400°F (200°C) for about 10 minutes.

Ingredient Substitutions

For those unable to find black-eyed peas, chickpeas or lentils can be used as a substitute.

- If hot red pepper is too spicy, sweet paprika can be used for flavor without the heat.

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 and reducing preparation time.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Akara on a platter garnished with fresh herbs and sliced onions, or present them in individual serving cups for a more elegant touch.

Pairing Recommendations

Akara pairs beautifully with a cold, crisp salad or a warm grain dish, such as couscous or rice. For beverages, consider a sweet and spicy ginger tea or a refreshing hibiscus drink.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover Akara can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in an oven or air fryer to restore crispiness.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A typical serving of Akara contains approximately 200-300 calories, making it a relatively light option that can fit into various dietary plans. The exact calorie count can vary based on the size of the servings and the amount of oil used for frying.


A serving of Akara provides a moderate amount of carbohydrates, primarily from the black-eyed peas. The exact carbohydrate content can vary, but on average, a serving might contain approximately 20-30 grams of carbohydrates, making it a good source of energy.


The fat content in Akara largely comes from the vegetable oil used for frying. While the amount of oil absorbed can vary, it's estimated that each serving could contain between 10-15 grams of fat. Using healthier frying oils and techniques can help manage the fat content.


Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein. A serving of Akara can provide about 5-10 grams of protein, making it a nutritious option for vegetarians and those looking to increase their protein intake.

Vitamins and minerals

Akara is rich in several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, thanks to the black-eyed peas and added ingredients like ginger and hot pepper. These nutrients contribute to overall health, supporting the immune system, bone health, and more.


Akara is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance. However, those with legume allergies should avoid this dish due to the use of black-eyed peas.


Overall, Akara is a nutritious dish that offers a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a versatile food that can be enjoyed in various dietary plans, offering both health benefits and delicious flavors.


Akara Somali-style is a versatile and nutritious dish that offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures. Whether enjoyed as a snack, breakfast, or side dish, Akara is a testament to the rich culinary traditions of Somalia, offering a taste of its culture and hospitality.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the sense of anticipation I felt when I first discovered this recipe for Akara Somali-style. It was a warm summer day, and I had been invited to a friend's house for dinner. As soon as I walked in, I was hit with the most delightful aroma of spices and herbs wafting through the air.

My friend's mother, a Somali woman with a warm smile and a kind heart, greeted me at the door. She ushered me into the kitchen, where she was busy preparing a traditional Somali dish called Akara. As I watched her deftly mix the ingredients together, I knew I had to learn how to make it myself.

I asked her if she would be willing to share the recipe with me, and she graciously agreed. She explained that Akara is a popular street food in Somalia, made from black-eyed peas, onions, garlic, and a blend of aromatic spices. The mixture is then shaped into small rounds and deep-fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

I watched intently as she showed me each step of the process, from soaking the black-eyed peas overnight to grinding them into a smooth batter. She added in finely chopped onions, minced garlic, ground coriander, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little kick.

As she shaped the batter into small rounds and dropped them into the hot oil, the kitchen filled with the irresistible scent of frying Akara. I couldn't wait to taste the finished product.

When the Akara was ready, my friend's mother placed a plate of the golden brown fritters in front of me. I took a bite and was immediately transported to the bustling streets of Somalia, where vendors sold these flavorful treats to hungry passersby.

I thanked her profusely for sharing the recipe with me and vowed to recreate it in my own kitchen. Over the years, I have made Akara Somali-style countless times, each batch bringing back memories of that sunny day in my friend's kitchen.

I have since shared the recipe with friends and family, passing on the tradition of making this delicious dish. It has become a staple at gatherings and potlucks, always met with rave reviews and requests for seconds.

I love the connection I feel to Somalia whenever I make Akara, a reminder of the kindness and generosity of my friend's mother. Cooking has always been a way for me to connect with different cultures and traditions, and this recipe holds a special place in my heart.

As I serve up a fresh batch of Akara Somali-style to my own family, I am grateful for the friendships and memories that have enriched my life. And I know that with each bite, I am honoring the spirit of sharing and community that transcends borders and brings us all together.


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