These bean patties are extremely tasty, especially in combination with their usual accompaniment of salt-dried prawns and a zingy fresh salad. Street vendors often serve the acaraje split and filled with a prawn purée known as “vatapá,” or in a vegetarian version with a tomato and chili salsa, and they are traditionally cooked in palm oil. Stalls selling acaraje are found everywhere in Salvador de Bahia. Acaraje is an evening dish, enjoyed before you go on to a party— something at which the Brazilians excel.
– For the acaraje.
– 21⁄4lb (1kg) dried black-eyed peas.
– 1 large onion, grated.
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper.
– 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
– 2in (5cm) piece of fresh ginger, grated.
– 1 fresh hot red chili, seeded and finely chopped.
– vegetable oil for frying.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
– For the salad.
– 1 avocado, sliced.
– 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced.
– 4 scallions (green onions), sliced.
– 2 fresh green jalapeño or serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped.
– juice of 1 lemon.
– 1 tbsp vinegar.
– 2 tbsp good-quality olive oil.
Step 2: Heat a little oil in a heavy frying pan. Cook the garlic and ginger over low heat for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the paste, season with salt and pepper, and keep over low heat. Beat the mixture well with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking, as you would when making polenta. Cook for 15–20 minutes, stirring from the bottom occasionally. Check seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Step 3: Heat oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. When hot, take a dessert spoon and quickly dip it into the hot oil. Fill the spoon with the black-eyed pea mixture, forming a firm, round shape. Place in the hot oil. Continue until you have a few patties in the pan. Cook for 6–8 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Continue cooking in small batches until all the mixture is used.
Step 4: To make the salad, mix together the avocado, tomato, scallions, and chilies. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the salad, and serve with the fried acaraje and perhaps some grilled prawns.