West African Vegetarian Pepper Soup with Black-eyed Bean CakesDocument Transcript
West African Vegetarian Pepper Soup with Black-eyed Bean Cakes
West African cuisine is unusual in that though meat is a rare and expensive commodity — and, as a result most dishes are heavy on vegetable
components it's still difficult finding a truly vegetarian dish. Part of the reason for this is that dried fish, fish heads and meat off-cuts as well as animal
feet and tails are often used as flavourings for the basic stocks in just about every recipe. The same is true of that most classic of all West African
dishes, the chilli-laden 'Pepper Soup'.
Recently I was working on a West African themed meal for a number of friends an family. However, several of the guests were vegetarian and I found
myself in the unusual position of needing to make a vegetarian version of Pepper Soup. The basis for this recipe is my wife's basic Pepper Soup stock
(she is Liberian) and a West African recipe for for Moy-Moy (black-eyed bean cakes). The resultant recipe is given below:
For the Moy-Moy
500g black-eyed peas (Akara)
salt and black pepper to taste
What you actually need is Akara powder (black-eyed bean flour) but this is difficult to find. Simply add the beans to a coffee grinder and render to a
smooth paste. Tip this paste in a bowl and slowly add just enough water so that you have a smooth, thick paste. Cover with a cloth and leave for an
hour. During this time the beans will absorb some of the water and swell. Just add a little more water to return the mixture to a smooth paste then
season with salt and black pepper.
You can use the paste immediately, but it tastes much better if left in the fridge over night (the flavour will intensify). When you are ready to use the
mixture, stir the batter vigorously to remove air bubbles then grease the bases of the wells in a muffin tin and scoop the mixture into the wells (filling no
more than 3/4 full); the mixture should be enough to fill at least five wells. Place the muffin tin in a large baking dish partly-filled with water. Cover with
foil and then bake in an oven pre-heated to 190°C for about 50 minutes or until cooked through and firm. (Test by inserting a skewer into the middle of
one of the cakes. When the skewer emerges cleanly the cake is done.)
Allow to cool then set aside. Quarter the bean cakes and deep fry in oil before adding to the pepper soup.
For the Pepper Soup
20 Scotch Bonnet Chillies
Juice of 1 lime
vegetables for stock (any mix of carrots, onion, courgette, collard greens, broccoli stems, celery)
1 small tin tomato paste
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
First make a vegetable stock by gently frying 6 cloves of garlic, diced carrots, roughly chopped onion, courgette slices, broccoli stems and chopped
celery in a little oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Add about 2l water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for
30 minutes. At the end of this time pass the stock through a strainer into a clean pan and push as much of the vegetables through the strainer mesh as
Take 12 of the chillies and add to a large pestle and mortar. Pound to a rough paste then add the chopped onion and pound this in to form a paste,
along with the black pepper and remaining garlic. Pour 60 ml of oil in a pan and ad the chilli paste. Fry for a few minutes (about 5) then season with
salt and transfer this mix to the pan with the vegetable stock. Add the remaining whole chillies and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for
about 30 minutes.
At this time add the deep fried Moy-Moy and the tomato paste and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the bean cakes have cooked through. Serve
in a large bowl, accompanied by rice.
Traditionally the guests would spoon the soup into a bowl and mash the whole chillies with a fork before eating.
Admittedly this is a very hot dish, but it has one remarkable property in that it brings out the full flavour of the Scotch Bonnet chillies (and they are very
tasty cooked this way). In West Africa this soup or its variants are used as a general pick-me-up and whenever someone is feeling under the weather
then the soup is prepared as a general 'pick-me-up'.
This pepper soup truly offers the real taste of West Africa and a version of this is known from just about every country in West Africa.
About the Author
Dyfed Lloyd-Evans runs the Celtnet Recipes recipe site whose aim this year, as well as bringing you the best recipes from around the world is to
gather in one place the largest number of African recipes found anywhere (the site boasts over 1000 recipes already and is growing weekly). The
recipes presented here is based on the West African Recipes region of the site, more specifically the Liberian Recipes page. The entire African recipes
selection can also be purchased as part of the Recipes of Africa eBook, proceeds from which go to giving the children of Liberian refugees in Senegal
an education, which they would not otherwise receive.