Monday, June 13, 2011

Akara, Fufu, and Chili-Tomato Relish

We spent Easter this year in Hamburg with our friends, David and Julia. They introduced us to fufu: a staple food of West and Central Africa. Last time I was at the Asian market grocery shopping, I was really excited to find a box of plantain fufu flour. 

Julia warned me that making fufu can be a bit challenging and it takes practice to get it right. I definitely don't think ours turned out perfectly this time. It had the consistency of very dry, instant mashed potatoes but with a powdery flavor. I think I will get some advice from David and Julia before giving it another go. 

Interestingly enough, while trying to figure out what to make with the fufu, I grabbed the August 2009 issue of Veg News and flipped to the page I, at some point in time, marked with a pink post-it note. It is an article called Marvelous Mali and discusses fufu and other African foods. It was one of those really odd moments of 'way too much of a coincidence to believe'. But it quickly became part of the dinner menu for the night.

Clockwise: Garlic bread, Akara, Relish, fufu, eggplant, roasted veggies and chickpeas

Akara (Black-eyed Pea Fritters) are a nice combo of black-eyed peas, onion, garlic, chile and bell peppers, and lots of spices. They are coated in cornmeal and fried. Ideally, they become round, fried, deliciousness. Mine basically melted and became slop. We determined that they required more of a 'deep fried' technique versus the pan frying that we attempted. We just threw the second batch in the oven instead of frying. They were pretty terrible but at least remained in 'ball form'. 

The Chile-Tomato Relish was fine, but too spicy and nothing to write home about. Below is the relish and fufu (sprinkled with fresh cilantro).

Fortunately, my friend Thea brought over lots of veggies, chickpeas, and bread to save the meal!

The eggplants were sliced, sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, herbs, and paprika and baked. 

We chopped a red and yellow pepper, broccoli, and onion along with some chickpeas, sprayed it with olive oil, sprinkled dried tomato flakes and sesame Parmesan and roasted it. 

And, the best part was the bread! Thea started with frozen rolls, thawed a bit and sliced in half. She spread a layer of dijon mustard, grated a little garlic, sprinkled fresh parsley and sesame Parmesan and baked it. The combo of flavors was fantastic. 

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