Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Soundtrack: “I.T.T., Pt. 2” by Fela Kuti from The Best Best of Fela Kuti
Art: “Three Wise Men Greeting Entry into Lagos” by Kehinde Wiley
Books: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney (Howard University Press, 1981) and Graceland by Chris Abani (Picador, 2005).
While bean fritters are thought to have their origin in Nigeria, one can find them throughout West Africa. Inspired by the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters served at the Gambian-Cameroonian restaurant Bennachin in New Orleans, I whipped up this dish.
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, sorted, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1 teaspoon minced thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cornmeal
5 cups coconut oil
Remove the skins from the beans by adding them to a large bowl, filling the bowl with water, agitating the beans, and fishing out the skins that float to the top with a fine mesh strainer. Rinse beans well.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the beans, onion, peanuts, thyme, cayenne, vinegar, water, and salt and pulse until completely smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Remove the batter from the refrigerator, add the bell pepper and cornmeal, and beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.
In a medium-size saucepan over high heat, warm the coconut oil until hot but not smoking, about 5 minutes.
Lower the oil to medium high, and in batches of 5, spoon the batter into the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fry, stirring around, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. If necessary, adjust the temperature to ensure that the fritters do not cook too quickly.
Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate and allow them to drain. Transfer the drained fritters to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.
Serve hot with Hot Pepper Sauce.
Yield: 1 cup
Soundtrack: “Hot Lava” by Kudu from Death of the Party
This is my attempt to replicate the oh-so-slammin’ hot sauce at the Senegalese restaurant Joloff, my favorite eatery in New York City. This version is only slightly hot, but if you really want that fire add 1 more habañero chile.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Coarse sea salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 habañero chile, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
In a saucepan over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cumin, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and chile and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, and water. Mix well, and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Transfer all the ingredients to an upright blender, add the white pepper, and puree until smooth. Season with additional salt to taste. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.
From Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry, published by Da Capo Lifelong