The Root Of Our Food is a new Metro.co.uk series for Black History Month spotlighting Black chefs and one particular recipe they love making, as well as what it means to them. Below, Joyce shares her moin-moin recipe.
To me, moin-moin is a celebration of two generations making magic.
The Nigerian dish – which is a steamed bean pudding made from a mixture of peeled black-eyed beans, onions, fresh ground red peppers and spices – has been passed down to me from my grandma, to my mother.
My mum adds titus fish and my grandma likes to add boiled eggs.
Now our particular family recipe is something I’ve made my own – and I love sharing our labour of love with the world.
Growing up in a British Nigerian household, it was a protein-rich quintessential dish we made on every other Saturday morning.
It’s a versatile dish that almost feels like a parcel because you never know what surprise protein you’ll find inside (Picture: Supplied)
The sharing of food has always been part of Nigerian food culture and moin-moin is the perfect meal to eat together as a family. You’ll usually never leave a Nigerian household empty-handed!
I started learning to cook at the age four; my mother would prop up a stool in the kitchen and I would assist her as her sous chef.
I made my first moin-moin at the age of 15, but I used ramekin dishes instead of uma leaves (similar to banana leaves). Over the years and with a lot of patience involved, I transitioned into making moin-moin the traditional way with the leaves.
My grandma taught me the art of wrapping the leaves. The process can be long but the aroma of the leaves is amazing and reminds me of home.
One fond memory I have of cooking this dish was during the pandemic. My mother and grandmother were wrapping the leaves and I decided to photograph the process, as it really brought joy seeing them spend quality time together.
Moin-moin can be eaten as a meal alone or accompanied with custard, eko (a popular breakfast meal in Nigeria made with corn), pap (a Nigerian fermented cornmeal pudding typically made from maize) or rice. You’ll typically see it served as a side dish on special occasions, such as traditional weddings.
It’s a versatile dish that almost feels like a parcel because you never know what surprise protein you’ll find inside. This is because people use anything from prawns, boiled eggs, corned beef to mackerels. You can omit these extras to make it vegan-friendly.
My recipes are inspired by food from around the world, food culture and Nigerian flavours that I grew up with (Picture: Supplied)
It’s actually one of my favourite Nigerian dishes that I enjoy eating with agege bread – a fluffy, soft and sweet Nigerian bread.
If I listen to some good music while I’m cooking or singing along at the top of my lungs, I find it therapeutic.
With age, I have learned the importance of writing down recipes. Besides being a food and travel blogger, I enjoy developing my own recipes for my blog, Diy With Joy, a platform that inspires and equips millennials to travel deeper and cook with joy.
My recipes are inspired by food from around the world, food culture and Nigerian flavours that I grew up with.
Documenting our family recipes is one of the most powerful things we can do to preserve the legacy of our relatives and loved ones.
Those are the kinds of recipes that feel like home to us.
Moin-moin: How to make it
- 2 cups peeled black-eyed beans
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 scotch bonnets
- 1 large brown onion
- 1 tbsp grounded crayfish
- 3 tsp chicken stock cube, crushed
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup sunflower oil
- 8 uma leaves or any containers for steaming.
- ¼ cup corned beef
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- How to peel blacked-eyed beans: In a bowl, soak the beans in enough lukewarm water to cover it for five minutes. Add soaked beans to a food processor or blender with enough water to cover it and pulse in five second intervals three to five times. Tip: Do this in small batches, as you don’t want to overload the food processor or blender.
- You’ll see the shaft of the beans separate and some will float to the top of the water. Pour the beans into a bowl and rinse while rubbing the beans against your palms to remove any shafts remaining. Sieve the beans to separate the skin and shafts of the beans to get peeled beans.
- Allow the peeled beans to sit in lukewarm water for at least an hour to soften for blending.
- While the beans are soaking, boil eggs for 10 minutes. Peel the hard-boiled eggs and slice.
- Chop onions, bell pepper, and scotch bonnets into small chunks and set aside.
- Pour the peeled beans, onions, bell pepper, and scotch bonnets inside a blender and add enough water to cover the beans. Blend until you get a smooth consistency and pour in a bowl.
- Add grounded crayfish, crushed chicken stock cube, salt to the blended beans, then add sunflower oil and mix well. The blended beans consistency should be loose, smooth but glossy. Break corned beef into small chunks and gently stir into the blended beans.
- To shape the uma leaves for the filling, hold the uma leaf upright, roll from the right side of the leaf towards the centre. Then wrap the left side of the leaf over the right side into a cone shape. Fold the bottom pointy end away from you. You should now have a cone shape with a closed button and open top to put the filling.
- Scoop two spoonfuls of blended beans into the folded leaf, add boiled egg slices, then fold over the leaf to cover it like a present.
- Place the wrapped moin-moin on a steamer. Alternatively, you can line a big pot with a few leaves. This helps prevent it from sticking to the pot and also keeps the water from seeping in. Lift the leaves and add water to the pot to steam it. Once the moin-moin is placed on the leaves, add a line of foil (which speeds up the process as it traps the steam). Then close the lid tightly and steam for 45 minutes on medium heat or until the leaves have changed colour. The texture should be moist, but not mushy and firm enough to hold its shape. Make sure you check the water level every now and then and top it up if necessary but do not submerge in water.
- In the absence of leaves, ramekins, plastic containers, or foil can be used in the same way. Using your steamer, place the batter in your chosen container and steam for 45 minutes. You can use a pot to steam instead of a steamer if you don’t have one.
- Unwrap and serve hot on its own or with agege bread, pap, eko, garri or jollof rice.
Black History Month
October marks Black History Month, which reflects on the achievements, cultures and contributions of Black people in the UK and across the globe, as well as educating others about the diverse history of those from African and Caribbean descent.
For more information about the events and celebrations that are taking place this year, visit the official Black History Month website.
October is Black History Month (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
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