Akara: The migrating food heritage from Nigeria

Akara or Beans Cake is a common breakfast snack from Nigeria but has migrated to different West African countries as well as Brazil.

Originally a Nigerian dish, the akara has a special place in my heart since the time I have seen my mother prepare and sold them on a daily basis for the last 10 years. It has served as a backbone for paying our school fees and wearing sallah clothes during festivals and celebrations.

Akara, a red beans cake from Nigeria Photo Courtesy: Amanda Chan

The word akara which means bread, is a Yoruba word. The Yoruba are an ethnic group of southwestern and North-central Nigeria as well as southern and central Benin, together known as Yorubaland. It comprises of six states namely Ekiti, Kogi, Ogun, Ondo, and Osun, and Oyo.

The dish has traveled to Brazil and is usually sold by Afro-Brazilian women, also known as Baianas, who are dressed in white skirts, cotton gowns and accessorized in beaded necklaces and head wraps.

I am sharing this scrumptious food heritage of Nigeria with you.

Recipe for Akara ( Kosai or Beans Cake)


  • 2 cups of beans (use black eyed peas for best results)
  • 1 small bulb of chopped onions
  • 2-3 chopped small scotch bonnet peppers
  • Shrimps (optional- you can include any protein of your choice)
  • Vegetable Oil for frying
  • Seasoning
  • Salt


  • Soak and wash your beans in a bowl of water.
  • Wash the beans till the skin has peeled off.
  • Blend the beans with a little water till it forms a paste.
  • Pour your paste in a bowl and with a wooden spoon, whisk the paste till the mixture is light and fluffy
  • Add your seasoning, salt, chopped shrimps, chopped onions and pepper. (You can also choose to blend the onion and pepper and mix it in.) Heat oil till moderately hot, scoop paste with a spoon and drop immediately.
  • Fry till golden brown and serve with Bread, Custard, Pap, or Garri.

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