Thursday, February 17, 2011

Carolina Foodways: Akara

Black-eyed Peas (aka Cowpeas Vigna unguiculata) originated in Africa and were brought to North America during the slave trade. Slave ship captains saw that more of their human cargo survived the Middle Passage when fed their traditional foods and provisioned accordingly. The best source for information on African foodways in North and South America is Judith Carney's work:
In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa's Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (2009) and
Black Rice: the African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (2001).

The first time I served this recipe to a guest he exclaimed that he thought people only ate Black-eyed Peas in the American South. I responded by asking "how do you think they got here?"

AKARA (Black-eyed Pea Balls)
(serves 4)
1 cup fresh (or soaked until they are soft) black-eye peas
1 egg
1/2 of a small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chili pepper
1/2 salt
? wheat flour
oil for frying.
Lazy soul that I am, I just toss all the above into a bowl and puree it with a blender (or you could use a food processor). I add a bit of wheat flour as thickener to the dough because the presoaked black-eyed peas can be a bit soggy. Remember, you want a thick dough! Fry in oil at 190 C (375 F) degrees until golden brown, then drain on paper towels.

I took this recipe from The Africa News Cookbook: African Cooking for Western Kitchens (1985) so it is far less spicy than in Nigeria. Feel free to increase the pepper; I do! The recipe book says this the above amount serves 4 but I love these so much that I multiply the amounts by 3 or 4 times with no problem.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's a great idea to put recipes in this blog along with the other stuff. Awesome idea! And this looks yummy!