Lest anyone think this blog is really Chennette’s Mom’s food, here I am posting a recipe for something that I worked out myself. Well, not completely myself. With contributions along the way, certainly, from Mom and my co-developer back in my student days.
You see, when I was in Barbados, I had the Bajan fish cake. It was a dense round ball of fried saltfishy goodness that reminded us of our* Trini accras. But not quite the same thing; while the Bajan fishcakes seemed to have more saltfish in them, the ones we tried tended to be a bit greasier and heavier than the accra. So we started to try to make accras. No recipe, no maternal consultation back then. We figured we could make a batter, add some baking powder and the necessary ingredients (onions, saltfish etc) and see what happened. What happened that first time, with the too-thin batter, were little crunchy light things that had long spider-legs all over. Not bad, but not right. And the flavour was all saltfish. Maybe we didn’t actually add anything other than saltfish, come to think of it…(recipe follows)
About a year or so later, we tried again. Learning from experience, we made the batter thicker, and probably added some stuff. We would fry up a batch, then adjust the mix. We didn’t quite get it. But it was fun. Not quite what we wanted, but fun.
And then back to my lonesome attempts. During my stint back home, I had many opportunities to try accra-eating and figured out that the slightly chewy texture must be due to more than thick batter and baking powder. Mom confirmed that she used a bit of yeast, just like she does for fried bakes. So armed with that knowledge I developed my recipe. Of course, Mom recently pointed out, when I had some of HER accras, that she also adds an egg. Adds the chewiness and some crispiness. Sigh. I forgot that little tip this last ‘Id ul Adha when I made them, but they were still great. So, if you’re vegetarian, you’re probably not making this anyway (it’s got salted FISH) in it, so go ahead and add an egg. But you don’t need to add the egg to get a good product, just to get Mom’s product.
(makes about 30 – large spoonfuls)
* 5 cups flour
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 teaspoons instant yeast
* About 2 cups of flaked saltfish
* 3 pimento peppers, chopped
* (1 hot pepper, chopped)
* 1 onion, minced or chopped finely
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons chopped chives
* 1 tablesppon chopped bandhania (cilantro/coriander)
* 1 tsp geera (cumin)
* (1 egg, beaten well)
* water to make a thick batter – the kind that your grabs your spoon and doesn’t move it- almost like a wet sticky bread dough.
* oil for frying
1. Saltfish is dried salted fish, usually filets of cod or something like that. To prepare the saltfish, soak in boiling water for at least 30 minuted, changing the water once. The satlfish should be soft enough to flake easily with a fork. If not, soak some more, or if you’re in a hurry, try chopping it up. But you’ll have to fight it.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, yeast, and all seasonings together.
3. Add the beaten egg and enough water to make a thick batter. Mix well.
4. Leave to rise for about an hour. It won’t necessarily rise much, but it needs this time to set to get nice and elasticky. Setting time will get you a rounder accra. Hopefully.
5. Heat oil about 2 inches deep in a pot or pan for frying.
6. Drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil (or use your hands like a pro, making it round in your fingers before squeezing it out – I use the spoons). Turn over as they swell and rise to the top. Fry to a darkish-golden brown (or to your taste).
7. Remove and place on paper towels.
8. Enjoy with a good tamarind chutney, or any other kind of chutney. Or if one of those pimento peppers was hot, by itself with lots of cool water.
* For the record, when I speak of “our” and “we” in terms of the development of accra during the Bajan days, I refer to myself and Hmmmm, also sometimes known as Hmmmmmmmm.
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