Akara with an African dipping sauce is found all over the Congo. A bean fritter, akara is a street food served in paper bags for a quick delicious snack. We enjoyed these treats as an appetizer as part of our Congo meal. The dipping sauce is a little spicy, you can adjust the heat to your tolerance.
Congo- Akara with Dipping Sauce (Bean Fritters)
- 1 ½ cups black-eyed peas soaked in water overnight
- 1 large red onion
- 1 jalapeno or scotch bonnet hot pepper
- 6 black peppercorns
- Salt to taste
- Oil for frying
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley optional
- Dipping sauce
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 red onion finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
- juice of 1-2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon black pepper corns
- 2 Tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 teapsoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
- Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. The following day, squeeze or rub the skins off the beans (if a few remain, don’t worry), remove them by dumping the water out of the beans. Keep the beans in a large bowl and pass the water through a strainer to catch the skins. Add more water and continue to remove the skins and wash the beans.
- peel the onion and put it cut in chunks along with half the hot peppers in a food processor or blender with the beans and pulse. Pound the pepper corns and add to the mixture, and add the parsley if you are using. Pulse well, until you have a thick bean paste. Add salt to taste and the remaining hot pepper if you want the fritters to be spicy (warning: scotch bonnet peppers are very, very spicy).
- Heat up about an inch of oil in a pan with a lid over high heat. Once heat-waves show up on the oil reduce heat to medium high. Carefully add spoonfulls of the bean mixture into the hot oil. Test it with one first, and make sure to add more only when the oil is bubbling around the bean paste. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Make Akara dipping sauce:
- Dice the onions and garlic.
- Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and pounded black pepper.
- When the onions begin to become transparent, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the chopped hot peppers and 1 cup water.
- Increase heat to medium-high until mixture boils, after which reduce the heat and simmer until at least half of the water has evaporated, and the sauce thickens.
- Add lemon juice and season with salt.
- Pour sauce over fritters, and serve as an appetizer or main course with a salad.