You might call it moi moi, mai mai, moyin moyin or moin moin. Or perhaps you know it as alele, olele, or bean pudding. Whatever the name, this is a unique and delicious classic Nigerian dish.
Are you missing this food from your past, and wondering how to make it? Or do you just wonder what it is?
Read on to learn about the Nigerian bean dumpling, and how you can make it yourself.
What is Moi Moi?
Moi moi is a soft, but firm dumpling of black eyed pea puree. The preparation of the batter is similar to kosai or akara. However, instead of frying the batter, you steam it in banana leaves or small containers.
You will notice that I use different names interchangeably in this post. Moyin moyin is apparently the proper Yoruba name, since this name actually describes the texture of the dish in the Yoruba language.
In the United States we mostly use black eyed peas to make this dumpling. In Nigeria you would be more likely to use the Nigerian brown bean. This bean is softer than the cowpea (black eyed pea) and reportedly easier to peel and process.
There are two kinds of brown beans – oloyin beans or olotu beans. Oloyin beans are also called African Honey Beans. I’ve seen both of these types recommended for moi moi, so I guess it depends on individual taste.
You can buy these brown beans from some online vendors, and one of these days I plan to try them. In the meantime, I make my Nigerian foods from black eyed peas.
When To Eat Moi Moi
You can eat moyin moyin for breakfast or as a snack. Put a little hot red pepper sauce on the side for dipping. Beans provide a great source of protein, and this dish is filling enough to stand on its own for a small meal.
You can also serve moyin moyin as a side dish to a bigger meal. Try it with jollof rice or akamu, which is a fermented corn pudding.
This dumpling is a classic small chop dish. It will fit perfectly into an array of appetizers at your next gathering.
How to Make Moi Moi
The first step is soaking and peeling your black eyed peas. You will want to start this at least a day before you plan to make the recipe. It takes some time, but it is important if you want your dish to turn out smooth and fine.
If you are wondering how to peel black eyed peas, you can find out here.
You will need something to wrap your dumplings, or a small container to use as a mold.
Steaming in Banana Leaves
Banana leaves are a perfect wrapping for moi moi. You can buy packets of banana leaves at African or Hispanic markets.
When you unroll your banana leaves you will discover they are 3 or 4 feet long. They are easily separated into sections 6-8 inches wide. The leaves have crosswise ribbing that makes them easy to tear. You can use this ribbing to tear off strips that you will use to tie up your packets.
Put a dollop of batter in the center of the leaf section, and roll it up as described in the recipe below.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine you could wrap moi moi in a large collard green or a piece of romaine lettuce.
Steaming in Small Dishes in the Oven
You can also just use any small dish that can withstand oven temperatures. There is a special small metal bowl that is traditional for moyin moyin. However a small pudding or souffle cup works just as well.
Put your small dishes into a large baking dish and pour about an inch of water into the pan. Cover tightly with foil, and put it into a hot oven for about 45 minutes, until the batter is cooked through.
Extra Ingredients and Flavorings
Plain moi moi is delicious enough. But you can also dress it up by adding any number of flavorings before you steam the dumplings. Here is a list of some delicious extra ingredients:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Smoked fish
- Cooked shrimp
- Canned corned beef
- Chopped green or red peppers
- Chopped green onions
- Your own brilliant idea!
You are not going to mix these extra ingredients right into your moi moi batter. Instead, put the batter into the container you will use for steaming. Then push some pieces of your extra ingredients into the batter. You can see this in the pictures above.
Moi Moi Recipe
This recipe describes how to wrap and steam moi moi in banana leaves. You can also steam it in small, oven proof dishes. Divide your moi moi between the dishes. Place the dishes in a large baking pan, and put about an inch of water in the pan. Then cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
Please note: The prep time on this recipe assumes you have already soaked and peeled your beans!
- 1 ½ cups dried black eyed peas, soaked and peeled
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon ground crayfish (optional)
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon Maggi Sauce or dawadawa (daddawa)
- Combine peeled black eyed peas, chopped onion, tomato paste, red pepper and salt in food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Add one or two tablespoons of water if the mixture is too thick.
- Stir in oil, ground crayfish, curry powder and Maggi Sauce or dawadawa.
- Tear banana leaves along the grain into 6-8 inch sections. Tear off some of the thin strips from the leaves to use for tying your bundles.
- Put ¼ cup of bean mixture into the center of each leaf. Fold the shorter ends over the center, overlapping each other. Fold the longer ends down about ½ inch to seal the ends. Then continue fold them down to meet in the center. Use the strips you tore from the leaves to tie the packets around the center. You can tie two strips together to make a longer strip.
- Put a steamer rack (a vegetable steamer works well) in a large pot and fill with water just to the bottom of the steamer. Stack your packets up on top of the steamer rack.
- Cover pot, bring water to a boil, and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Remove packets from pan, and let them cool slightly. Unwrap and enjoy your bean puddings!
The Last Bite
Whether you call it moi moi, moyin moyin, olele, alele or bean pudding, this classic Nigerian dumpling is worth the time to make.
You can eat moyin moyin for breakfast or a snack, as a side dish to a meal, or as a part of a selection of small chops.
The first step to make moyin moyin is peeling your black eyed peas, or Nigerian brown beans if you can get them. Then you will puree your peas and mix them with the rest of your ingredients.
You can steam moyin moyin wrapped in banana leaves, or another type of heavy leaf, or in small pudding-type dishes.
Read more about moyin moyin on Funke Koleosho’s amazing blog where she transforms Nigerian dishes into haute cuisine.
Have you made Nigerian bean pudding lately? What do you like to add?