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Holiday desserts: Banana Akaras recipe offers a taste of West Africa

As the head chef and director of dining services at Brookdale Carrollwood Senior Living Center, Judith Taylor-Young works the flavors of her West African roots into her cooking.

Taylor-Young, who is from Sierra Leone, shares a holiday dessert recipe in that same vein. This recipe is for banana fritters, which in this recipe are called "akaras," a word whose African origins means "vegetable fritters."

She says that the recipe combines rice, "an essential staple food eaten at every meal" where she is from, and bananas, which are also very popular in the cuisine of Sierra Leone.

Taylor-Young has been at Brookdale for 17 years, and in that time she has used her fine dining training to cook a wide variety of international foods that highlight cultures from around the globe for the residents.

This dessert in particular reminds her of home.

"This recipe means a lot to me because during the holidays in Africa, my grandmother will always have banana akaras as a dessert to go with ginger beer and some all-butter pound cake," she says. "We will always have these at home for friends and relatives that will be dropping by the house."

She says the recipe came from her grandmother, and she was taught how to make it when she was just 9 years old.

"It always bring back some wonderful memories of my childhood," Taylor-Young says.


Banana Akaras

Banana Akaras


  • 4 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups oil for deep frying
  • Powdered sugar for garnish
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish


  1. In a food processor, mash bananas and sugar until mixture reaches a smooth consistency.
  2. Transfer into a mixing bowl and gradually add rice flour, nutmeg and then hot water and vanilla while mixing. The mixture should be moist but not liquid.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Heat oil in a nonstick pan. Drop 3 spoonfuls of the batter into the oil; fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove from oil. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with mint sprig. Serves 4.
Source: Judith Taylor-Young

Holiday desserts: Banana Akaras recipe offers a taste of West Africa 12/01/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 11:36am]
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