On Tuesday I left work on time. It took a ridiculous amount of time to get home but I survived the M25. I had a little more energy this evening so I thought I would experiment a little in the kitchen. I am of Nigerian descent (Yoruba tribe – thank you!) and so I am very used to making akara. Akara is made from peeled black eye beans or brown bean that are ground into a batter with various spices and fried to make little snack-sized balls. They are found in West African and Brazilian cuisines. I never knew that it was eaten outside of Africa but with the slave trade moving peoples across the world – this would explain its presence in other continents.
The best akara I have ever eaten is from my mother’s kitchen. There is simply no comparison to anything else I have consumed else where, even my own attempts. In more recents I have mostly eaten this during Christmas dinner but occasionally I will find time to make this at home. The only problem for me is the initial process of preparing the beans. When I lived at home they would be soaked overnight and then I would then spend the morning manually removing the eyes/skin of the beans by rubbing them together between the palm of my hands. I remember many Christmas mornings passing by doing this. In my adulthood Google has shown me that there is a simpler way of doing this involving placing them in water and pulsing them in a food processor but I still find the whole process tedious and time consuming. So I while I was eating yet another falalfel wrap, I thought if this is essentially a fried chickpea ball, couldn’t I do this with any of these lentils. I had a jar full of mung dal waiting to be used so I thought I would try this.
I put a teacup full of previously soaked mung dal into my nutibullet, followed by one onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, ground coriander and paprika and handful of chopped coriander. The resultant batter was fried in small amounts (one tablespoon ful at a time). It was a learning curve for me – the first batch came out crisp on the outside and rather under cooked inside. It took me a while to remember to get the heat of the oil at a steady state so that the mixture cooked evenly and came out a nice light brown colour. I had to add a bit more salt to the mixture half-way through too. When it was all completed I wondered what I could serve them with. I remembered that I had randomly bought some chutney in Sainsbury’s a few weeks ago, so I though that this would be the perfect time to test this out.
They were very tasty savoury snacks. Nacho loves them, which is always a good sign. I would say that next time I make them, I might add a little less coriander, a little more, onion, salt and spices and perhaps a dash of ginger. As usual I posted a picture of social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, no less, because, you know, the world just needs to know what is happening in my little kitchen) and I was informed by two of my friends that what I had made was vada. Vada, I have learnt, is a type of savoury fried snack from India. There is a range of diversity! It is also know as wada, vade, vadai, wadeh and bara. They can also be described as fritters, cutlets, doughnuts or dumplings. They can be made from pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils etc) and can be served as a breakfast item or snack. I was pleasantly surprised and happy to know that we humans are not that different when it comes to food.