Brazilian acarajé recipe

Flickr: ManoelNetto

These fried pea balls are commonly found on the streets of Brazil’s northern Bahia state. They are also used in religious offerings to the gods in the Candomblé religion. Though these are now thought of as typically Brazilian, they dish was brought by the slaves of West Africa. Still to these day, similar snacks are found in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Gambia, Togo and Sierra Leone.

Serves: 20 acarajé
Time: 1 hour

Acarajé balls

½ kg onions
½ kg black eyed peas, drained from can
Vegetable oil for frying


100g cashews
100g peanuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
250g dried prawns
½ kg bread, day old stale bread works best
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 thumb of ginger, finely chopped
1 ltr coconut milk
1 tomato, chopped
1 handful of coriander, finely chopped
Vegetable oil


Take the dried shrimps and soak them in water.

Add the peas, onions and seasoning and blend into a rough paste. Remove and set aside.

Add the shrimps to the blender along with the nuts and bread and wizz for a minute or so.

Heat a little oil in a saucepan and cook off the ginger, garlic, onions until soft, usually around five minutes or so. Add the rest of the ingredient except the coriander and cook for about half an hour, seasoning to taste. At the end, mix in the chopped coriander.

Take a very large saucepan (or turn on a fryer if you have one) and heat oil. Take the pea and onion mix and form into balls. Drop these into the hot oil in batches, cooking for about 5 minutes. Once they are golden brown, remove from the oil and lay on kitchen towel to soak up excess grease and cool a little.

Cut across the centre of each cooked ball and fill with the vatapá mix, some extra chopped tomatoes, some spicy sauce if you have it and coriander. Serve immediately.

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