Cookin' with wrestlers! Do you need a unique snack for your Royal Rumble watch party? Miss Addy Walker has just the thing for you! Take a moment to learn a little bit about her cultural roots before you try out this special (and very simple) recipe from her ancestral homeland.
Addy, as any American Girl fan knows, was named after her great-grandmother, Aduke, who was kidnapped by slavers and brought to the United States. Aduke is a name from the Yoruba people of West Africa. Today's recipe is for a staple of Yoruban cuisine called Akara, which are basically black-eyed pea fritters. Crispy, quick to make, and perfect for entertaining, Akara originated in West Africa and are now common in Brazil, having been brought there through the slave trade. Today, it's street food; originally, it was prepared in conjunction with special ceremonies, such as military celebrations or funerals.
What's really nice about Akara for our purposes is that it's authentic, but super-easy and cheap. There's absolutely nothing wild or wacky about the ingredients or the preparation. Addy's sous chefs made a couple tiny modifications, but essentially, the recipe they put together is, to their knowledge, right in step with what you'd get from a street vendor in Nigeria. And the best part is, you'll LOVE it! It's delicious and great for sharing. Make a bunch of Akara for your spread of Royal Rumble edibles. SO much cooler than a bag of chips, and so easy! You're less than an hour away from a taste of Yoruba culture!
1 can black-eyed peas, drained
1 & 1/2 tbsp minced onion
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground cayenne red pepper
1 tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil (amount will vary; see recipe below)
In a medium bowl, mash up the black-eyed peas. You could use a blender or food processor, but you can do this manually in just 2-3 minutes. Why give yourself a clunky bladed thingy to wash when a large fork or meat tenderizing mallet works just as well?
Anyway, mash it up until it's a chunky, gloppy consistency. You don't want it runny or milkshakey. It needs to be able to basically hold its shape, like mashed potatoes. Here's what you want:
Now mix in the onions, garlic powder, cayenne, flour, and salt. Set aside.
Pour the vegetable oil into a frying pan until you have a pool about 1/4" deep. The exact amount you need depends on the diameter of your pan. You can use a small pan, and therefore less oil, in which case you can make the Akara in batches, as Seth and Alexa did.
Heat the oil between medium and medium-high. Once you see a tiny bit of steam rising from the oil, it's hot enough. Place little blobs of the black-eyed pea mixture (about a tablespoon each) in the hot oil, gently flattening the top. The bottom half of each blob will be in the oil; the top half will be unsubmerged. Let cook for a couple minutes, or until visibly golden-brown, and then flip them over. The second side requires a little less time. Here's a visual of one that's done on the first side, and a couple that were just plopped in the oil:
As the Akara finish, place them on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain off excess oil. Serve hot with whatever dipping sauces you like. This recipe yields about a dozen Akara.
Akara have a nice texture and flavor on their own. Crispy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside, flavored like beany hash browns. Yet they're mild enough that they can accept a wide variety of dipping sauces. So for entertaining, you can set out a bunch of sauces and let people pick their favorite. Dijon mustard, ranch dressing, anything tomatoey... maybe something cheesy, too. I can't see any bad combinations here.
Interesting note: Traditionally, Akara contain minced hot peppers. Seth and Alexa went with ground cayenne instead, because laziness. But the effect of mild heat is basically the same.
Also, Akara are usually spherical, like hush puppies, rather than in patties, as the above recipe prescribes. That's because Seth and Alexa totally botched the sphere-style. You're supposed to deep-fry these things, submerging them completely in hot oil. But when our heroes tried that, their Akara melted into a gunky, soupy mess. Take a look, if you dare:
So they switched gears at the last moment and attempted the shallow-pool-of-oil method. It worked, albeit necessitating a flatter shape. But hey, that just means you don't need to use as much oil as you normally would, so you're welcome!
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