|Black Eyed Pea Fritters & Beer for New Year's Good Luck|
And so I begin this New Year with a myriad of promises to myself including an alternative to dryer sheets, which is now firmly glued to the inside of my drier, something akin to a bar of soap, somewhat cloying, yes, but, stickum makes it stay in the dryer, and that's a minute or two of my day now not spent collecting wayward launderous ephemera.
The other thing my New Year begins with is Black-Eyed Pea Fritters from Madhur Jaffrey, the Julia Child of India, the cook who made living in Bermuda just a little sweeter, the woman who taught me how to make rice properly, and taught me that Curry Powder is not Indian cooking, but something of a joke upon British Colonialism.
So if you're tired of eating black-eyed peas with collards to bring you luck the rest of the year, you might want to try this one New Years, or really any old day, cause we can use luck all the time, can't we?
From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters -- Akara -- Nigeria, Mali
Different versions of ackara can be found in nearly all of western and central Africa. The dish traveled to most places the slaves went and is eaten today in the Caribbean and in South America as well. (In Brazil, it is called acaraje, a word not too far from the original.)
These delicious fritters are not very different from the North African/Middle Eastern falafel, except that instead of chickpeas or fava beans they are made with black-eyed peas. They are generally eaten as a snack or as part of a meal in Africa, but you may also serve them with drinks, offering a spicy dipping sauce (Shannon likes spicy peanut sauce, soy sauce, any kind of hot chutney...experiment!). Of course, you may eat them just like falafel, stuffed into pita bread along with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and tahini sauce.
For those who do not have a food processor, the African method of making the batter is to put the soaked peas through a meat grinder and then to beat in the hot water in order to make a mixture that is light and airy with a drop-easily-from-the-spoon-consistency.
1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over and washed
(if you live down South, you can get fresh black-eyed peas in the
grocery store during the holiday! Don’t ever ever use canned, you’ll regret it.)
1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (Wolfy likes more cayenne, but its up to you!)
Peanut or canola oil for deep frying
Soak the black-eyed peas in water to cover by 5 inches for about 16 hours, changing the water once in the middle only if it is a very hot day. Drain the peas and put them in a large bowl. Cover them well with fresh water. Dip both hands into the bowl and rub the peas between your palms. You will loosen many, though not all, of the skins, which will start to float in the water. Skim off the free skins with a sieve or slotted spoon; leave the stubborn skins alone.
Drain the peas thoroughly and put them into the container of a food processor along with the chopped onion, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Turn the machine on (medium speed if you can control it) and process, pushing down with a rubber spatula again and again until you have a grainy paste. Slowly add about 5 tablespoons of hot water, (be careful not to get the mixture too wet!!) processing all the while, until the paste has a dropable consistency. It should also look light and airy but remain very slightly grainy.
Put 1 inch of oil in a frying pan and set it over medium heat. Allow it to get very hot. Now work fast: Stir the batter gently and remove a very heaped teaspoon. Using a second teaspoon, drop the batter in the oil...the fritters will be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Repeat until the frying pan is full. Fry the fritters for about 1 minute at medium heat , turning them over as they darken, and then turn the heat down to low. Continue to fry for another 5 minutes or so, turning the fritters now and then (cooking time varies...Wolfy says they may cook faster than this.) You should end up with fritters that have an even, rich reddish-brown color and are cooked through. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Make all the fritters this way, remembering at the start of each batch to (a) turn the heat back up toe medium and get the oil very hot again and (b) stir the batter once very gently from the bottom up. The fritters should ideally be served as soon as they are made (smile!).
Leftover fritters may be stored in a closed container in the fridge.
Makes about 40 fritters; serves 6