The brain can be a funny thing some time. I’ve been craving moi-moi for over a week now, ever since seeing Black Panther (One of the best movies I’ve ever seen, Shuri is EVERYTHING, I will spare you a page full of raving!).
The movie never made mention of moi-moi, btw. I don’t think it made mention of food at all, now that I think about it… but the MUSIC. The music made me homesick for Winnipeg, by way of Folklorama, where my husband and I love the African pavilions in particular. (and the Greek pavilion… and the First Nations pavilion… and the Ukrainian pavilion.. well, basically everything!)
Being immersed in that music for a couple hours brought me back to the first time I had moi-moi, at the Africa Pavilion. We always try a bit of everything when we go to Folklorama, and I think we paid $1 for a serving of moi-moi. We had no idea what to expect, and we were presented with a pretty little mound that looked like a pink panna cotta. It was warm – which surprised us – and had a texture sort of like mousse, but more solid.
I was instantly in love, and broke my “don’t order more than one of the same thing at Folklorama!” rule… a few times. Whoops. Whatever, it’s healthy – moi-moi is MINE-MINE!
Anyway, yes… Black Panther -> joyous African music -> Boom, week long craving activated.*
Moi-Moi (or moin-moin) is a traditional dish in Nigeria, a steamed bean pudding. It can be vegetarian or not, it can be served straight up, or with any number of items baked into it – hard boiled eggs, corned beef, etc. It can be served warm or cold, and is just a really great, healthy dish.
I’m very much “the way I first have it is the RIGHT way” when it comes to things (even when I know otherwise – again, the brain is a funny thing!), so I make it based on the first way I had it – vegetarian, no “extras” baked in, served warm.
I’ve tweaked my recipe a few times, and I think I’ve got it almost accurate to the source material, save for one small thing – texture. I don’t get mine QUITE as smooth as they do, because I kind of mail it in when it comes to peeling the beans. Theirs was silky smooth, mine is just slightly short of that. Still has an amazing texture, and the flavour is amazing.
You know, I hate the term “greater than the sum of its parts”, but this is one instance where that phrase really applies. This is such a simple dish, with pretty basic ingredients… I have no idea how it ends up so flavourful and amazing. It doesn’t sound like much, on paper!
I like to eat this straight out of the oven, or sliced and reheated. Serve it with rice or a salad for a meal, or just munch on it alone as a high protein snack.
* It’s not the only time we’ve had powerful Folkloama cravings brought on by music. The song “Hot” (by Middle Phinger) on the “Beatclub – A Celebration of Canadian Dance Music” CD reminds us of the music Afro-Caribbean pavilion dancers use for the limbo dancing, and it always makes us crave Roti.
Moin-Moin / Moi-moi Recipe
Makes 2 bread pans worth of pudding
1 lb dry black eyed peas
2 large red bell peppers
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cubes of chicken or vegetable bouillon
2 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup vegetable oil
The night before you want to make this, get the beans started:
In a large bowl, cover the beans with hot water, allow to soak for 1 hour. Drain the water off, transfer beans to a food processor, and blitz about ten times, just to break them up a bit. Return beans to the large bowl, cover with hot water, and agitate – the skins will start to float.
Use a slotted spoon to skim off floating skins, and dispose. Stir the beans with your hands a bit, rubbing beans together as you go – more skins will float. Skim those off, and repeat.
Once skins stop floating, I pour the water off carefully – it’ll bring more water with it. I’ll scoop bits of skins off the surface of the beans – sometimes they don’t get carried off by the water. Cover with more water, and repeat.
Once I’m happy with the amount of skins removed, I’ll cover it with water one more time, and allow it to soak overnight.
To make the moi-moi:
Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Liberally spray two glass bread pans (or several ramekins) with cooking spray, set aside.
Chop and seed the bell and habanero peppers, peel and chop the onion. Add peppers, onion, garlic, and bouillon cubes to food processor, process until smooth.
Drain the beans, add beans to food processor and process til smooth. Add a little water, if you need, to get it going – but not a lot. I tend to let the food processor run for about 5 minutes, your mileage may vary.
Once smooth, add salt, paprika, and vegetable oil, blitz again until well incorporated.
Place each bread pan into a larger baking dish. Add water to large baking dish until about halfway up the sides of the moi-moi dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, transfer to oven.
Bake for about 2 – 2 ½ hours, until the sides of the moi-moi start to pull away from the baking dish. Allow to cool a little, before inverting onto a serving plate.
Serve warm, enjoy!
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