Acarajé [ɐkɐɾɐˈʒɛ] (listen) is a type of fritter made from cowpeas. It is the most popular street food in the north eastern state of Brazil, Bahia. The recipe for acarajé was introduced to Bahia by slaves who came from Yorùbáland 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 freed Yorùbá slaves started 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, then deep fried in dende - a reddish oil from the palm fruit. When done, they are split in half and filled with vatapá, caruru, fried shrimp, salad and pepper. Brazilians modified the recipe from Nigeria a little and started to fill the acarajé with other afro-Brazilian foods. In Nigeria, none of the Brazilian accompaniments are served; just the bean cake is eaten, fried with palm oil or vegetable oil.
Acarajé are served on the streets by women who call themselves baiana do acarajé. They wear traditional clothes, white flowing dresses, sometimes turbans and colorful necklaces related to the rituals of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. In Nigeria, however, there is no ceremony and the women who sell Akara wear whatever they like. Nowadays, these baianas sell acarajé as a way of life and it’s something that helps to sustain 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.
History[change | change source]
Acarajé was specially made when a person dies at the age of 70 or above. It was usually fried in large quantities and given to every household that was related to the person who died. Acarajé was also to be made in large quantities when warriors won a war. The wives of the warriors were to fry acarajé and give it to all the people in the village.
Acarajé, a recipe taken to Brazil by the slaves from the West African coast. It is called "akara" by the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria and by the people of Sierra Leone. It is called "kosai" by the Hausa people of Nigeria. It is called "koose" in Ghana. It is eaten with millet or corn pudding. In Nigeria, akara is usually eaten with bread, ogi, which is a type of cornmeal made with fine corn flour.
In Sierra Leone, akara is made up of rice flour, mashed banana, baking powder, and sugar. After mixing the ingredients together, it is dropped in oil by hand, and fried. It is then formed into a ball. Akara is usually made for events like Pulnado (event held due to the birth of a child), a wedding, funeral, or party.
In Brazil[change | change source]
Acarajé sold on the street in Brazil are made with fried beef, mutton, dried shrimp, pigweed, fufu, osun sauce, and coconut. Today in Bahia, most street vendors who sell acarajé are women. They first started selling acarajé in the 19th century. The money gotten from selling acarajé were used to buy the freedom of enslaved family members until slavery was banned in Brazil in 1888. Selling acarajé served as a source of family income. The city now has more than 500 acarajé vendors.
References[change | change source]
- Barbosa, Ademir, 1972-. Dicionário de umbanda. São Paulo, SP. ISBN 978-85-67855-26-4. OCLC 947908363.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Jagun, Márcio de. Yorùbá : vocabulário temático do candomblé : português-yorùbá / yorùbá-português. Rio de Janeiro, RJ. ISBN 978-85-374-0318-1. OCLC 1037610342.