What is acarajé de Salvador

June 21, 2024


Acarajé is a traditional Afro-Brazilian dish that originated in Salvador, the capital city of Bahia, Brazil. This popular street food is a deep-fried fritter made from black-eyed peas and seasoned with onions, salt, and palm oil. Acarajé is typically served with a spicy shrimp and vatapá (a creamy paste made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, and palm oil) filling, as well as a side of hot pepper sauce. In this glossary, we will explore the history, ingredients, preparation, and cultural significance of acarajé in Salvador.


The history of acarajé dates back to the 17th century when enslaved Africans brought to Brazil by the Portuguese colonizers introduced the dish to the region. Acarajé was originally a sacred food offering to the gods in the Candomblé religion, a syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion that combines elements of African animism, Catholicism, and indigenous beliefs. Over time, acarajé became a popular street food in Salvador and is now considered a cultural symbol of Bahia.


The main ingredients in acarajé include black-eyed peas, onions, salt, and palm oil. The black-eyed peas are soaked overnight, then peeled and ground into a paste. The paste is seasoned with onions and salt before being shaped into small balls and deep-fried in palm oil until golden brown. The shrimp filling is made by sautéing shrimp with onions, garlic, and spices, while the vatapá is prepared by blending bread, shrimp, coconut milk, and palm oil into a creamy paste.


To prepare acarajé, the black-eyed pea paste is shaped into small balls and deep-fried in hot palm oil until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The fritters are then split open and filled with the spicy shrimp and vatapá mixture. The acarajé is typically served hot with a side of hot pepper sauce for added heat. In Salvador, acarajé vendors can be found on street corners and at local markets, selling this beloved snack to hungry locals and tourists alike.

Cultural Significance

Acarajé holds a special place in the cultural heritage of Salvador and is often associated with the city’s vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture. The dish is a symbol of resilience and resistance, as it has survived centuries of colonization and oppression to become a cherished part of Bahian cuisine. Acarajé is also closely tied to the Candomblé religion, where it is still used as an offering in religious ceremonies and festivals. In Salvador, acarajé is more than just a snack – it is a taste of history and tradition.


In conclusion, acarajé is a delicious and culturally significant dish that has deep roots in the Afro-Brazilian heritage of Salvador. From its humble origins as a sacred food offering to its current status as a popular street food, acarajé has stood the test of time and remains a beloved symbol of Bahian cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack on the go or as part of a traditional meal, acarajé is sure to delight your taste buds and give you a taste of the rich history and culture of Salvador.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.