Food, Community & Government

Accara: Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

Michael W. Twitty

Lesson time 21:05 min

Michael makes what he calls “West Africa’s answer to falafel” while dissecting the roots and cultural significance of black-eyed peas. He shows how to cook based on “feeling” as the ancestors did in the past.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Soaking • Skinning the Black-Eyed Peas • Crushing • Frying • Serving


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So I'm really excited about working with you on this recipe. This is a black-eyed pea gold mine called accara. Accara are fritters that are extremely popular in West Africa. They're found in almost every African country along the Atlantic coast from which our ancestors were taken. And they are West Africa's answer to falafel. And what's cool about them is that you remove the skins. You can do this the cheating version where you just grind everything up. But actually they taste better, and I think they look better, with the eyes off. And I'm going to show you how to do that. Black-eyed peas are really, really special. I remember growing up, and every New Year's, on the strike of midnight, I would run around the house and put black-eyed peas in everybody's wallet and everybody's purse. And I thought that was just us, until I started talking to other African-Americans of my generation. They said, Oh, yeah. We did that too. We put black-eyed peas in our wallets and in our purses on New Year's day for good luck and to have money. So in Senegal, you would make a pot of nyebe. Nyebe is the word in Wolof and Fulan for black-eyed peas. So you make a pot of black-eyed peas to give to someone who doesn't have any food, someone who is unfortunately having to beg for money and food on the street. And so before you can get a blessing on your business, on your house, to have a child, anything, you have to make a pot of nyebe. And usually, you serve that with cheb, with rice, which is basically the precursor dish to Hoppin' John. And you go to the person. And you don't just shove a pot of food in their face, you sit down with them. And it's your duty to treat them like a human being and share a meal with them in the gracious and hospitable way. And in this act of charity, only then can you receive a blessing, once you bless somebody else. So one of the things that I like to do with that story is teach people, our ancestors did these things not because they were primitive or they were superstitious. They did these things because these were part of the values of their lives, the values that they wanted to pass down to us, were it not for the interruption of the transatlantic slave trade and its exploitation of our bodies, our minds, and our labor. So here, we're going to do a version that is very popular with my friend Pierre Thiam. He's is a Senegalese chef who lives in New York. And Pierre does the version that I saw when I went to Senegal. It was my first trip to West Africa. And even though, I knew about accara and I had them before. The accara in Senegal are very sort of like falafel-ish, tater tot-ish. And on the street, they were sold by a lady in St. Louis which was a major part of the colonial period and also the slave trade. And I remember, she was sitting there in her little corner on her stool. Her daughter was helping her. And she was constantly making these accara in a lit...

About the Instructor

Through years of unearthing his African American heritage, bestselling author of The Cooking Gene Michael W. Twitty discovered undeniable ties between his ancestors’ past and his own palate. Now he’s teaching how you can get a taste of your family history through food. Explore the migrations that informed the ingredients in your kitchen—then re-create the dishes that helped shape who you are.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Michael W. Twitty

James Beard Award–winning author of The Cooking Gene teaches how to trace your culinary roots through the food your ancestors ate.

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