Koose (Spicy Bean Cakes from Ghana)

Koose and sweet pepper sauce
Koose and sweet pepper sauce. F. Muyambo
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 15 bean balls (15 servings)
Ratings (14)

The first time I ever came across koose, I was actually at work. One of my best mates at the office was from Ghana, and he brought in some treats his wife had made. When he described what he was eating, bean cakes, I asked whether it was not a Chinese dish. I was surprised to learn it was Ghanaian, as I felt I had intimate knowledge of almost all foods Ghana had to offer, yet I had never come across these.

This is most likely because koose is a quotidian street food in Ghana, and a similar variation is more popularly known as akara in much of West Africa. In fact, the origins of koose or akara are linked to the Hausa people, who are scattered across West Africa, but are mainly concentrated in Nigeria. Having spent most of my growing up years in Botswana, and away from the street food havens of Ghana, it is now no surprise that something so distinctively West African was not as familiar to me as it could have been.

Koose (kosai, akara, akla) is made from ground cowpeas or black eyed peas. They can be made with ground cowpea flour or by grinding whole black eyed peas. I had avoided making koose for a while because I knew that the process, at least the very first time I made it, would involve de-hulling each and every bean by hand. Ouch! Needless to say, since trying it out, I discovered a much easier method for de-hulling black eyed peas for makingKoose.

For this recipe, you will need a pestle and mortar or a food processor, a blender, and a medium saucepan for deep frying. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas (dried or cowpeas)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 scotch bonnet pepper (or habanero pepper)
  • 1/2 cup water (to blend)
  • 1 level teaspoon salt (flaked sea salt)
  • 4 cups vegetable oil (for frying)

How to Make It

1. Prepare the beans by soaking and de-hulling 2 days in advance.

2. Place the beans into a sturdy blender and begin to pulse until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of water at a time to facilitate the blending process.

3. Add the onion, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper to the blender and pulse until smooth. Add the sea salt flakes and mix into the batter.

4. Heat up the cooking oil in a small to medium sized sauce pan.

Test the readiness of the oil by adding a shaved piece of ginger. If it sizzles and rises to the top, the oil is hot enough.

5. Using a tablespoon to scoop the batter, spoon about 5 tablespoons of batter into the oil. You will see them puff up into round balls. Fry and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn them in the oil to ensure they are evenly browned.

6. Once cooked, scoop them out of the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel. Serve as a snack with a pepper sauce such as sauce rouge as pictured, or a tomato gravy. You can also enjoy it the traditional Hausa breakfast way, with porridge known as Hausa koko.

Recipe Tips

  • To ease yourself into making koose with whole beans, start the process up to 2 days in advance of cooking by soaking and de-hulling the beans. You can then store them in the fridge or freezer until ready for use.