Ah, moimoi of life. You can’t beat this spicy bean pudding when it comes to Nigerian comfort food. Moimoi is made from a ground bean paste mixed with spices and palm oil, and then steamed. It is traditionally paired with hot akamu (a pudding made with millet starch) or cold garri (roasted cassava granules soaked in sugared water). When I was growing up, I lived for the occasional Saturday mornings when I would wake up to find my mum making moimoi for breakfast – it was a time intensive process so it didn’t happen all that often. My sisters and I would fill up on moimoi and akamu before diving into the chores for the day, and then we’d go back to the kitchen for round two after we were done. Mum always made a huge batch of like 20-30 moimoi, but it was always exhausted in a couple days. They were that good.
There’s a version of moimoi that’s made of plantain instead of beans; in my recipe I’ve combined the two versions by using both plantain and beans. It’s a hearty combination that will keep you full for half the day. This recipe uses bean flour but you can also use freshly soaked and ground beans. To keep it vegan I swapped out the corned beef, eggs and fish that are usually added to moimoi and used mushrooms instead. You can really have fun with the add-ins; feel free to try peas, sweetcorn, carrots – let your stomach and your imagination guide you.
Traditionally moimoi is wrapped in banana leaves which not only look pretty, but also add a distinct flavour to the moimoi. I didn’t have banana leaves and besides I haven’t mastered the delicate art of wrapping them properly anyways, so I had to improvise. If you’re like me and you’re not a banana leaf wrapping expert, you have several options for containers. Aluminium foil, ceramic bowls, plastic bowls, tart dishes, muffin/cupcake tins. I used mugs and cupcake tins; the mug moimoi came out more moist but took longer to cook. The cupcake tins are fine but if you don’t want the moimoi to form a crust on top like mine did, you should cover the tin with foil. I liked the crust so I didn’t mind, but moimoi normally shouldn’t be crusty.
You also have two options for how to cook the moimoi: broil in the oven or steam/broil in a pot. Moimoi wrapped in leaves should be steamed. If using other containers you should broil. Cooking time ranges from 40mins to an hour depending on how much mix you have per container. Making moimoi can be really long but it’s sooo worth it.
What you will need
*makes about 10 servings
+ 2 large, very ripe plantains
+ 1 1/2 cups bean flour
+ 1 cup chopped oyster mushrooms
+ 3 large tatashe (red bell peppers)
+ 1 large red onion
+ 3 medium size green bell peppers, chopped
+ 4 atarodo (scotch bonnet peppers)
+ 2 tablespoons palm oil
+ 1 tablespoon vegetarian shitor (Ghanaian black pepper sauce)
+ spices: 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ehuru (African nutmeg), salt
How to make it
1. Mix the beans flour with a cup of water into a thick paste and let sit for 30 minutes. This allows the beans to be reconstituted, to avoid having a weird floury taste in the moimoi
2. Blend the plantain, tatashe, atarodo and half of the onion with a cup of water into a smooth, thick paste. Chop the other half of the onion.
Pour into a bowl and stir in the bean flour paste, chopped onion, mushroom, shitor, spices and salt to your taste. The consistency should be similar to a thick smoothie; add more water or bean flour to adjust the consistency if needed.
3. Spoon the moimoi mix into your container of choice and place in the pot, oven or steamer. If using mugs, spoon 3-4 tablespoons per mug and place in a pot of boiling water 2 inches deep. Cover the pot and leave to boil on medium heat for about an hour, until the moimoi sets and a knife comes out sticky but not wet. Check the water regularly and replenish as needed; keep hot water on standby so you don’t add cold water to the pot and stop the boiling.
If using a cupcake tin, fill 3/4 of each cup with moimoi mix. Cover the cupcake tin with foil and fold over the edges; place in an oven pan filled with water and bake for 40 mins to an hour, until the moimoi sets.
You can have your moimoi with garri, akamu or as a side dish with jollof rice. I had mine with oats in coconut milk, sprinkled with fresh coconut pieces. Yumness!