accarabrokenopen

Senegalese Cuisine — Accara with Sosu Kaani, Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Tomato-Chile Sauce

We don’t often look at a bag of dried legumes like black-eyed peas and think, “we should make fritters out of that,” but that’s exactly what the Senegalese do.  Light and airy, accara went perfectly with sosu kaani, a cooked tomato sauce spiced with habañero peppers.

Accara

(adapted from Saveur, May 2012)

MAKES ABOUT 12 FRITTERS

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola oil, for frying

First, the beans were picked through for stones, small clumps of dirt, and shriveled, sickly, misshapen beans like this one:

badbean

Then the Chosen Ones were rinsed, drained, put into a large bowl, and covered with water for a long soak:

beansstartsoak

The bowl was placed in the refrigerator.  After an hour, we decided to check on them.  This was a good idea because the beans had absorbed quite a bit of water in a short time and needed to be topped off:

beanssoaked1hr

More water was added to the bowl and it was put away in the fridge.  After about ten hours soaking time we were ready to proceed:

beanssoakdone

The black-eyed peas had swelled just enough that some of their skins can be seen floating in the soaking water.

The beans were drained thoroughly:

beansdrained

…then put into the food processor with the chopping blade attached:

beansintoprocessor

The black-eyed peas were pulsed a few times in the food processor:

beansprocessing

…until each one was broken at least once and there were loose skins throughout the mixture.  The chopped beans were put back into the bowl and covered with ample water, then rubbed thoroughly by hand:

beansrubbing

…to loosen as many skins as possible:

beanskinsloosened

Allowed to rest briefly, most of the skins floated to the top:

beanskinsclose

…and could be discarded by carefully dumping out the top layer of water:

beansrubbeddraining

Angie’s right hand was kept in the path of the runoff to catch any beans that wanted to escape during this process.  The bowl was refilled with clean water and this process was repeated until all the skins were gone, which was probably ten times at least.  In the end, almost no skins remained:

beanskinsremoved

The skinless beans were put back into the food processor with the baking soda, onion, and some salt and pepper:

ingredientsinprocessor

…and processed until smooth:

doughinprocessor

Unlike with a flour-based batter or dough, we didn’t need to worry about the dough becoming too gluey in texture because beans contain no gluten, so we could process to our hearts’ content.  The finished mixture was similar to a very wet bread dough in consistency:

doughinbowl

The batter/dough finished, we set up our fry line to the best of our humble abilities:

fryline

The cast iron pan was filled with about an inch of vegetable oil and the heat seat to a little higher than medium.  Once the oil surface began to shimmy and dance a little we knew the oil was hot enough, so using two table spoons we made a test fritter and dropped it in:

testfritter

Turning it after less than a minute and seeing that it was sufficiently done:

testfritterturned

We added a few more fritters to the pan to fry:

frittersdropped

These cooked quickly; by the time we could grab the camera some browning was already visible in the fritters.  After frying about a minute on each side, each accara was removed to a paper towel-lined cooling rack to drain:

frittersdraining

Much like with the Scotch eggs before, we over-browned these a little.  A candy/deep fry thermometer has needed to be at the top of our kitchen supply shopping list for some time now.  It seems like their affordability and ready availability are trumped only by our reluctance to go all the way to the other side of Fred Meyer when we’re there for our groceries.

The fritters were arranged on a plate with the spicy sauce, sosu kaani (recipe follows), that we made the day before and refrigerated:

accaraplated

Once we were ready to eat, the accara proved to have a crispy exterior that encased an airy, soft interior:

accarabrokenopen

Sosu Kaani

(adapted from Saveur, May 2012)

MAKES 1 CUP

  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 habañero pepper, seeded and diced finely
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

The oil was heated in a saucepan on medium heat, then the onion and garlic were added:

onionsinpan

After the onions were softened, about five minutes, we added the tomato paste:

tomatopasteinpan

…and stirred to combine.  The mixture was cooked until the oil had taken on the color of the tomatoes, about two minutes:

tomatopasteincorporated

Next, the tomatoes, habañero, and bay leaf were added:

tomatoesadded

…and cooked for another five minutes:

saucefinished

The bay leaf was then removed and the rest of the contents of the saucepan put into the blender and pureed.

Accara surprisingly tasted a little like pumpkin and peanut butter, which was delicious with the sosu kaani dipping sauce.  Not surprisingly, the texture reminded us of falafel, the Middle Eastern fried garbanzo bean flour ball, but was just a little coarser of crumb.  Sosu kaani seems versatile as well; we’d like to try it in greater quantity as an enchilada sauce some day.

More from our Senegalese meal: Maafe ginaar

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