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Acarajé [ɐkɐɾɐˈʒɛ] ( listen) is a dish made from peeled black-eyed peas formed into a ball and then deep-fried in dendê (palm oil). It is found in the Nigerian and Brazilian cuisines. The dish is traditionally encountered in Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia, especially in the city of Salvador, often as street food, and is also found in most parts of Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of Benin.
It is served split in half and then stuffed with vatapá and caruru – spicy pastes made from shrimp, ground cashews, palm oil and other ingredients. The most common way of eating acarajé is splitting it in half, pouring vatapá and/or caruru, a salad made out of green and red tomatoes, fried shrimps and homemade hot pepper sauce. A vegetarian version is typically served with hot peppers and green tomatoes.
Akara (as it is known in southwest and southeast Nigeria) was a recipe taken to Brazil by the slaves from the West African coast. It is called "akara" by the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria and in the Yorubaland of south-western Nigeria, "kosai" by the Hausa people of Nigeria or "koose" in Ghana and is a popular breakfast dish, eaten with millet or corn porridge.
Today in Bahia, Brazil, most street vendors who serve acaraje are women, easily recognizable by their all-white cotton dresses and headscarves and caps. The image of these women, often simply called baianas, frequently appears in artwork from the region of Bahia. Acarajé, however, is typically available outside of the state of Bahia as well, including the streets of its neighbor state Sergipe, and the markets of Rio de Janeiro.