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In the streets of Salvador da Bahia, the Baianas with their white cotton clothes and cloth wrapped around their heads are a common sight. These women sell the famous Acarajé, a very popular and spicy street food in the northeast of Brazil.

Acarajé are small fried balls made from milled black-eyed peas, known as ‘fradinho’ in Brazil. The fritters are usually opened and served with some kind of filling. The most common stuffings are shrimps, Vatapá – a puree of fish, nut kernels, dried shrimp and soaked bread – or Caruru – a traditional vegetable mix with okra.

Fireballs From Across The Ocean

The state of Bahia is known for its African influences. Along with many other dishes, Acarajé were brought to Brazil by former slaves from West Africa. In parts of Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin the black-eyed pea fritters are also still found today under different names.

This is also where the Brazilian street food got its name from. In the languages of Western African tribes, the word ‘Akara’ means ‘fireball’ and ‘je’ stands for ‘eat’ – a pretty good descrption of what the fiery snack is all about!

If you also like it spicy, you should definitely try making Acarajé at home – unless you happen to be in Brazil; then the Baianas are your first choice!




Similar to:

Akara or Kosai from Nigeria
Koose from Ghana

Find more food and drinks from Brazil here.

Alguidares by André Schirm, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0