Acarajé [ɐkɐɾɐˈʒɛ] ( listen) is the most popular street food in the north eastern state of Brazil, Bahia. The recipe of acarajé was introduced in Bahia by slaves who came from Nigeria, during the colonial period. In Nigeria, acarajé is named Akara and the women who sell it, call out "Akara je", which means "Come and eat Akara" in Yoruba. So when free Nigerians slaves starting to sell acarajé on the streets, they used the same technique and Brazilians assumed that they were selling acarajé.
Acarajé is made with black-eyed peas, garlic, ginger and salt and then, it's deep fried in dende - redish oil from the palm fruit. When it's done, they split in half and fill it with vatapá, caruru, fried shrimp, salad and pepper. Brazilians modified a little the recipe from Nigeria and start to fill acarajé with other afro-Brazilian foods. In Nigeria, none of the Brazilian accompaniments are served. They just eat the bean cake fried with palm oil or vegetable oil.
The acarajé is served on the streets by women who call themselves baiana do acarajé. They wear traditional clothes, white flowing dresses, sometimes turbans and colorful necklaces, which are related to the rituals of the afro-Brazilian religion, the Candomblé. In Nigeria, however, there is no ceremony and the woman who sell Akara wear whatever she likes. Nowadays, these baianas sell acarajé as a way of life and it’s something that helps sustains their families.
In 2004, acarajé was declared part of Brazil's heritage culture in the region of Bahia. It's one of the most important symbols of the culture of Bahia and it's enjoyed by all types of tourists. They are delighted by the taste, color and relaxing way of eating acarajé on the streets.