Akara: The Brown Bean Cakes That Everyone Enjoys

The Centenary Project

One of Nigeria's favourite deep fried snack.

Akara served with yellow corn meal., 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
7 simple steps for making Akara
One of Nigeria's favourite deep fried snack, akara, is a popular breakfast meal made with brown or black-eyed beans and spices. The preparation of akara follows a relatively simple process. It's all about getting the right texture and taste from the beans mixed with the ingredients.
Ingredients for making bean cakes (akara), 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
Step 1: Getting your ingredients right
Scotch bonnet, a bulb of onions, raw beans, vegetable oil, seasoning cubes and salt are the main ingredients for preparing akara. 
Beans, black eyed peas and millet, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Choosing the right variant

Akara can be made with either brown beans, white beans, or light brown beans also known as honey beans. Portions of beans are sold in most Nigerian markets using local measurements like "De Rica cups" or "Paint buckets".

Beans, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Honey beans

Light brown beans are also known as honey beans. They are the sweetest of all the beans variants and are the most commonly used for preparing akara.

Ingredients for making bean cakes (akara), 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
Step 2: Preparing the beans
The raw beans are soaked in warm water for 30 minutes to make it easier to peel off their skins. 
Skinning of beans for bean cake (akara) preparation, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Washing the beans

When the water cools, the skins of the beans can be easily removed. The beans are de-skinned by rubbing them with the hands. This is the washing process, and it continues till all the skins come off.

Skinning of beans for bean cake (akara) preparation, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Getting the skins off

The washing process continues. More cold water is added. At this stage, some of the skins become fully separated from the seeds and float to the surface of the water.

Beans skin in sieve and bowl and peeled beans in a bowl, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

All washed up

Once the beans have been completely washed and all the skins have been separated from the seeds, the next thing to do will be to grind the seeds.

Woman grinding beans, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
Step 4: Grinding the beans
A locally-produced grinding machine is used for large-scale blending. It is a small-scale business in Nigeria, and people pay money to grind foodstuff. Here, the washed beans from the container are poured into the blender. A large wooden stick is used to push the beans faster into the grinding machine. 
Woman grinding beans, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Smooth consistency

The paste is run through the blender several times till it becomes really smooth.

Woman grinding beans, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

The glory of grinding beans

The pureed beans is now thick and smooth.

Spicing the ground beans, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
Step 5: Mixing your ingredients
The seasoning cubes are added to the pureed beans and the mixture is stirred.
Plate of fresh onions, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Chopping up your onions

The onions are neatly chopped into tiny pieces and added to the pureed beans.

Plate of fresh pepper, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Chopping up the scotch bonnet

The scotch bonnet is cut into tiny pieces and added to the pureed beans.

Bean cake (akara) preparation, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Mixing all the ingredients

Every ingredient has been added to the puree and it is thoroughly stirred with a wooden spoon.

Groundnut oil in frying pan, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
Step 6: Heat up the pan for deep frying
Vegetable oil is generously added to the pan as the akara needs to be deep fried. The oil is allowed to heat up.
Frying of bean cakes, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Adding the pureed beans to the hot oil

When the oil heats up, the akara is added with a spoon to achieve its round shape.

Frying of bean cakes, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Frying

The akara is fried till it becomes golden brown.

Frying of bean cakes, 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Golden brown

The akara is ready to be served once it turns beautifully brown in the pan.

Bean cakes (akara), 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Best served hot

The akara is taken out of the pan with frying spoons and is now ready to be served.

Akara served with yellow corn meal., 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project
Step 7: Serving and eating akara
The beautiful golden-brown ball is a Saturday morning favorite in many homes in Nigeria. Akara is best paired with ogi, also known as pap or akamu, which is enjoyed with sugar and milk.
Corn meal served with akara and bread., 2019, From the collection of: The Centenary Project

Akara burger

Eating akara with a sweet loaf of bread is another delicious way to enjoy the meal. Akara, in this instance, serves as a filling for the bread, just like a burger. This is, perhaps, why it is popularly known as "Akara burger".

Credits: Story

Curator: Patrick Enaholo
Research: Omotunde Omojola / Emem Akpabio
Photography Supervisor: Omotunde Omojola
Text: Emem Akpabio
Text editor: Munachim Amah

Special thanks to:
Mary Ihama

© The Centenary Project

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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