Akara can be made with different types of beans, but the most common is black-eyed beans, onions and spices, fried up like fritters or croquettes, then served with a sauce of onions, peppers and chilli sauce. On the street, they usually serve it in a baguette (typical tapalapa or senfur), making it a filling and nutritious meal to begin your day with.
Akara is a healthy dish since beans are very rich in proteins. It is also low in fat and high in fibre, which lowers cholesterol levels in the body and is 100 % vegan.
Usually, the beans are soaked overnight to soften them and loosen the skin, which must be removed. The other method of removing the skin is by gently pounding the beans in the mortar with a bit of water until the skin separates.
The next step is to wash the beans well and then leave them to soak for thirty minutes or more.
The beans are now ready for pounding. Add some water and salt to taste, and grind the beans until you get a smooth paste. You can use a blender or a mortar and pestle if you wish to do things the traditional way.
Heat oil, shape the mixture into little balls, and deep fry them until golden or light brown.
The street vendors usually have different-sized fritters (small, medium or large) with different prices.
Making Akara using the traditional mortar-and-pestle and the local charcoal burner is a tedious task, and we should appreciate the value of this delicious and typical snack in The Gambia.
Want to learn traditional Gambian cooking? Join our home cooking activity to learn how to do it from professionals.