Acaraje are delicious black-eyed pea fritters from Brazil. They are easy to prepare and full of flavor. These tasty treats are the inspiration behind my own Indian version of these fritters. Black-eyed peas (or black-eyed beans) are known as “lobia” in Hindi and “chawli” in Marathi.
BLACK-EYED PEA FRITTERS (Chawli chi Vadi)
2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in plenty of water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 small green Thai chilies, finely chopped (to taste)
3-4 fresh curry leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt & pepper, to taste
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, finely minced
enough oil for shallow frying (peanut, vegetable or canola)
Wash and drain the black-eyed peas from their overnight soak. Then using a small hole colander, let the black-eyed peas sit for 10-15 minutes until all the water has drained out. Pat the black-eyed peas dry by using a tea towel or kitchen towel.
Using a blender or food processor, grind the black-eyed peas into a thick dough-like batter without using any water. Next, transfer the black-eyed peas dough to a large mixing bowl and then add the onion, ginger, green chilies, curry leaves, cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Mix well to form a very thick dough that can easily be molded into a doughnut like shape with your hands. The dough should not be runny at all. Using your hands, form uniformly shaped balls, which are then slightly flattened (making a small round even shaped disc). Then using your finger, make a small hole in the center similar to a doughnut. This allows for even cooking.
In a large frying pan on high heat, add enough oil for shallow frying. When the oil is hot, carefully add the vadas, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (this may be done in batches). After 2-3 minutes, flip them and reduce the heat to medium. Fry them for another 2-3 minutes; they should have a lovely golden brown color. Drain well on paper towels and serve hot with your favorite sauces and chutneys.