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Brazilian Acarajé with Vatapa Recipe

Brazilian Acarajé with Vatapa Recipe

Acarajé is a small Brazilian fritter that is filled with either Vatapa or Caruru depending upon your choice. The quintessential ingredients for making these fritters are black-eyed peas and dende oil, a type of palm oil. Acarajé is one of the most popular and delicious street foods of Brazil.

It is an amazing snack-time dish that is loved by the people of Salvador. If you ever get a chance to visit Brazil, Acarajé is one food that you definitely need to have when you are in Salvador, the capital of Bahia – a north-eastern state of Brazil.

Vatapa is a thick creamy paste that is prepared by blending together coconut milk, shrimps, finely ground peanuts and cashews. Caruru, on the other hand, is a spicy and fiery mixture of okra (lady finger) and cashew nuts paste.

History & Cultural Significance

The real name of this dish is actually ‘acara’ but it is commonly known as ‘Acarajé’ as a result of a humorous mistake by the women from the Yoruba group who used to sell the snack. These women shouted ‘acara-jé’ which means ‘I have acara’ and so the name ‘Acarajé’ caught on. 

History suggests that Acarajé originated from Western Africa. As it reached Latin America, it started becoming more popular as street food in Salvador, Brazil. The women of Bahia used to prepare the dish and sell it on the streets.


Brazilian Acarajé with Vatapa Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Acarajé can be made by filling the fritters with either vatapa or caruru, this version of Acarajé uses vatapa. Here's our take on the classic Brazilian dish.


For the Acarajé:

  • Black-eyed peas - 2 cans
  • Onion (chopped) - 2
  • Garlic (chopped) - 2 cloves
  • Chilli pepper - 1-2
  • Flour - 2 tbsp
  • Black pepper - 2 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Dende oil (Brazilian palm oil) - for frying

For the vatapa:

  • Shrimps - 1kg
  • Peanuts (roasted) - 2 Oz
  • Cashew nuts - 2 Oz
  • Coconut milk - 4 cups
  • Ginger (chopped) - 1 thumb
  • Garlic (chopped) - 4 cloves
  • Onions (finely chopped) - 1
  • Green chillies (chopped) - 2-4
  • Tomato (chopped) - 1
  • Coconut milk - 1 cup
  • Bread (cut into small pieces) - 2-3 slices
  • Crab meat - 50g
  • Salt - to taste
  • Black pepper - 2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves - to taste


For the Acarajé

  1. Take a bowl and add black-eyed peas. Cover with water and let it soak for around 24 hours.
  2. After 24 hours, remove the outer skin of the peas and drain them thoroughly.
  3. Take a food processor and add the drained peas, garlic and onion. Remove the white parts and seeds from the chilli pepper and add the rest into the food processor.
  4. Blend until a smooth puree is formed. You can add 1-2 drops of water in order to make it smooth and fluffy. Transfer it into a bowl.
  5. Gradually add flour, salt and black pepper using a spoon and start beating the batter mixture with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. Continue beating until the mixture is light and firm enough to hold a shape.
  6. Now take a deep sided frying pan and add dende oil in it. 
  7. Place a spoonful of the creamy thick batter mixture in the pan and allow it to fry.
  8. Let the fritters fry from both sides until they are golden brown and crispy. This may take around 6-8 minutes.
  9. Remove the fritters from the pan in a platter and allow them to cool slightly.
  10. Your Acaraje is ready. Once they are slightly cooled, slice them from the centre in half and fill it with vatapa.

For the vatapa:

  1. Take a food processor and add the shrimps to it. Blend until a pulp is formed. Remove the pulp and set aside.
  2. In the food processor, add bread slices and blend until smooth. 
  3. Now add the peanuts and cashews in the bread and blend again for around 2 minutes. Remove the mixture and set aside.
  4. Take a frying pan and add dende oil to it. Heat the oil at a medium-high heat. Now add ginger, garlic, onions and green chillies to it and allow them to fry for just 2 minutes until they are slightly tender.
  5. Now add the pulped shrimp, tomato, coconut milk and breadcrumbs and allow them to cook for around 5 minutes.
  6. Add the crab meat and season it with salt and pepper and garnish with coriander leaves.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1424Total Fat: 92gSaturated Fat: 61gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 565mgSodium: 3477mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 12gSugar: 12gProtein: 90g

This crispy snack time vatapa filled Acarajé is super tasty and certainly a crowd-pleaser! It’s also a really simple way to begin exploring Brazilian cuisine and all it has to offer.

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