Brazilian acarajé with vatapá

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This acarajé with vatapá recipe makes the perfect snack at a Brazil-themed party. The crispy bean and onion cakes (acarajé) are stuffed with a flavourful vatapá - a popular Brazillian mix of shrimp, crab, nuts and coconut milk. Chef Marcello Tully says acarajé is one of his favourite Brazillian street-food snacks, citing their moreishness and aroma as a major attraction.

First published in 2015





  • 450g of black-eyed beans
  • 450g of white onion, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • 360g of dende oil
  • 360g of vegetable oil



  • Food processor or blender


First, make the acarajé. Add the beans to a large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak overnight (or for 24 hours)
  • 450g of black-eyed beans
While the beans are soaking, gently rub them between your hands – the outer skins should come away and float to the surface. Remove the skins and discard, then drain the water
Cover the beans with water again – more skins should float up to the surface. Discard and leave the beans to finish soaking
After soaking, drain the beans and add to a food processor with the raw onions (do this in batches if necessary)
Scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl and season with salt. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for a few minutes, until light and fluffy
Heat the dende oil and the vegetable oil in a large, deep pan. Form balls of the batter with a wooden spoon and carefully drop into the hot oil in small batches, cooking for approximately 6 minutes (or 3–4 minutes on each side). They are cooked when they turn a nice bright orange colour and are crisp on the outside
  • 360g of dende oil
  • 360g of vegetable oil
Once they are cooked, drain and set aside on some kitchen towel
While the cakes are cooling slightly, make the vatapa filling. Add the shrimp to a food processor, blitz to a pulp then remove and set aside. Add the bread to the food processor, blitz until smooth then add the cashews and peanuts. Blitz for a further 2 minutes, then remove and set aside
  • 300g of dried shrimp
  • 330g of bread, day-old, roughly chopped
  • 85g of cashew nuts, unsalted
  • 85g of peanuts, unsalted
Add the dende oil to a large pan and place over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and sweat for 2–3 minutes until tender but not coloured
Add the pulped shrimp, coconut milk, tomato and breadcrumb mixture. Cook for a further 5 minutes
Add salt and pepper to season, then add the crab meat at the last minute to warm through. Stir through the coriander and set aside
Carefully cut a slit across the longest side of the acaraje and spoon some of the vatapa into each one. Serve immediately
First published in 2015

When Brazilian-born chef Marcello Tully started his career at fourteen, he may not have anticipated working on the starkly beautiful island of Skye – but then he probably didn’t expect to be crafting some of the most exquisitely refined Scottish-influenced food on the planet, either.

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