Recipe for Acarajé

The Acarajé is a Brazilian dish from the famed cuisine of the state of Bahia, it is from african origin and was brought over to Brazil through the slaves. This dish was ritually served to the orixá gods, the african gods that the slaves worshipped. To dig even deeper into the history of this dish, it was the arabs who taught the african Yoruba tribes how to make it; the arabs made (and still enjoy today!) the falafel, which is somewhat similar to the acarajé, but with different ingredients.

This brazilian recipe is made with peeled black-eyed peas, onion and salt, which are then fried in pure brazilian palm oil (azeite de dendê). The acarajé can be served with chili, dried shrimp, vatapá, chili sauce; it is served with almost all of the typical dishes from the Bahia state, and also its close cousin the abará which is a baked version of this dish, instead of being fried; this brazilian recipe can be challenging as the ingredients can be hard to find and preparing the peas takes patience and a lot of time, but it isn’t difficult.

Yield: 6-7 servings
Total time:

Making Acarajé

* 2 lb. of dried raw black eyed peas
* 3 onions
* Salt to your taste
* 1 small unpeeled onion
* 2 cups of vegetable oil (canola oil)
* 2 cups pure red palm oil (azeite de dendê)
* 3 cups of vatapá (see recipe for vatapá)
* 5 oz. (150 g) of dry shrimp (optional)
You will need a food processor or blender, and I strongly recommend using an electric deep fryer for additional safety while making this recipe


1) Wash the beans, place the whole beans in a blender with just enough water and then pulse just a few times, just enough to break the beans, not to pulverize the whole thing.

2) Pour the beans in a bowl then pour enough water over to cover. Soak for at least 12 hours. Stir the beans with a holed or slotted spoon through them, to take out all the shells that have come off of the beans.

After removing their shells, rinse the beans under running water and pass the slotted spoon through them once more to remove as much shells as you can; reserve.

3) Peel the onions, chop in small bits and pour them in your blender or food processor, along with the beans you have just “peeled”.

Blend, pulsing for about 3 minutes, or until you get a very smooth paste. Ladle all the dough from the blender, then pour in a large deep bowl. Using a wooden spoon, beat the dough scraping the bottom and bringing it to the top, until the acarajé dough has doubled or even tripled in volume; this step is a bit time consuming but it is important to make it correctly as it will allow the fermentation to take place.

4) Pour the vegetable oil and the palm oil in your deep fryer; also put in the small onion with skin and bring the oil to temperature; when the oil has reached temperature take the onion out and discard.

5) Meanwhile, form the acarajé patties, by scooping some bean dough with a big serving spoon, press another big spoon over the other side to give the bean dough its shape, like a big cookie. Carefully put the patties in the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes on one side, then flip the patties with a slotted metal spoon, and fry them until they are golden orange and crisp.

5) If you are not using a deep fryer, lower the heat setting so the oil does not burn. Remove the acarajé patties with a slotted spoon and put them on kitchen tissue to drain them from the excess oil.

6) Slice the patties in halves and fill with vatapá. Add some dried shrimp then close the acarajé patties; arrange on a platter.

Serve the acarajé to your guests...

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