Moin Moin Memories of Nigeria

Greetings and thanks to all who took time to drop by my little blog last year, all 8,000+ of you, lol. I started the blog in March or April or something like that which averaged about 1,000 views a month give or take. Trusty WordPress gurus crunched the numbers and came out with this:600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views. Again, thanks everybody. Now that I’ve stuck a foot in to test the water, I’m going to dive on in.

MOIN MOIN MEMORIES OF NIGERIA

When I was a college student many moons ago, I dated a guy from Nigeria, actually we lived together for a couple of years, but that’s another story. I was raised in small towns in Eastern NC. If you ever traveled 64 East back in the day, chances are you passed through one of those ‘if you blink you’ll miss it’ places of my youth. Other than work and more work, there wasn’t a whole lot for a sharecropper’s daughter to do. Of course I watched the two or three channels the tv picked up. But when I picked up my first lit book somewhere between the age of 4 and 5, I was in love. I traveled to exotic places and saw so many things through the eyes of the characters in the stories I read.

By the time I started college, this small town girl felt like a sophisticated world traveler. So naturally when I met my Nigerian prince that accent had me at ‘hello’. We met in a laundromat of all places. Right then and there I told him the good parts of my life story. I told him about my grand pop so naturally that meant we had to move in together.

Watching him with his friends, listening to them speak in their native tongue or ‘broken’ or whatever it was when they didn’t know each other’s language, was a real treat initially. Overtime it got annoying. I found it rather rude especially when they did it in my presence. It wasn’t like they didn’t speak English. The most interesting thing though was when they ate that big ol’ ball of dough. At least that’s what I called the fufu they communally dipped into a usually slimy stew or soup made with okra, tomato sauce, dried fish, chicken, and all else.

Sometime during get-togethers they invited me to partake of the cuisine, but no way could I bring myself to eat what was essentially bisquick and water turned into dough. Not to mention I didn’t find several people dipping into the same sauce appealing if you know what I mean. To their credit, I never saw anyone double-dip the fufu, but no one wiped between fingertips either. To meet them halfway, I sometime took a serving of soup or stew in a small bowl, which very often was quite delicious.

The two years we co-habitated he did most of the cooking. My idea of a meal was grabbing a burger, making a sandwich, or occasionally eating the Colonel’s fried chicken, biscuits and cole slaw. Although I tried to make his African cuisine it never came out right. But there was this one dish I promised myself I would make someday. I’d tried it at another one of their many gatherings. It was made with black-eyed peas without the eyes. They called it moi-moi or moin-moin.

Recently, a local television station featured the dish one weekend and put the recipe on their site. I missed all but the tail end of the show but went in search of the recipe. It looked darker than what I remembered. Nor did I recall a boiled egg being in there. But memory can and do get foggy over the span of years so who knows.

With a hard copy of the recipe safely within the confines of my cluttered handbag, I took to the big box store. The small bag of black-eyed peas had been soaking for nearly six hours or so when it occurred to me the eyes and hull had to come off the things. The recipe said they would rub off. The two I picked up out of what looked like zillions of soaking beans didn’t rub off too easily. Now I’m remembering why it’s taken all these years for me to attempt the recipe.

A Nigerian, a beautiful nutmeg-hued sister, told me that night how she’d rubbed the eyes out and pureed those peas to the consistency of squash baby food. I remember staring at two large turkey size tinfoil pans of moi-moi. That was a lot of black-eyed peas. Why it would’ve been the equivalent of cleaning ten buckets of chitterlings. It must’ve taken her hours and who had hours to devote to one dish, no matter how delicious it was.

So here I am all these years later faced with the daunting task of getting the eyes off all the peas now soaking in my best bowl in the kitchen sink. Maybe by morning the eyes and hull will rub right off. Maybe I’d voyage into cyberverse and encounter some life form who will tell me a quick way to rid those many legumes of their many eyes. If you would like to suffer along with me have at it. See below:

Moi-Moi From African Continental Cuisine

Serves 3

 1 c dried black eyed peas

 1-2 roasted red peppers, skins removed

 1 red onion

 1-2 pieces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned – optional)

 1 tsp. canola or other oil of your choice

 1 tsp. chili powder

 1 tsp. turmeric

 Canola oil or Pam to grease the pan

 Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 3 soft boiled eggs, peeled (optional)

 Soak the beans overnight. Rinse and rub between your hands to remove skins.

Grind the beans to a smooth paste with very little water. Grind onions and peppers and add to beans. Add oil and seasonings and mix well.

Slowly add warm water and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Oil a loaf pan or spray it with Pam. If using eggs, cut a slice off the bottom so they’ll rest flat, and place in the bottom of pan. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Gently pour the bean batter over.

Cover the pan with oiled foil. Place in a bain marie (set into a roasting pan slightly larger than the loaf pan and add water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan). Bake for approx. 40-60 min at 350F, or until set and pulling slightly away from the edge of the pan.

Remove from the oven and bain marie. Allow to cool for 10-15 min. Gently run a knife around the edges of the pudding. Unmold onto a platter and garnish with vegetables of your choice. I used green beans and more roasted red pepper.

Moi-moi can be made with seafood and/or meat as well or just plain veggie. Moi-moi can also be cooked in the traditional banana leaf instead of the foil pan if available. A bit more difficult but more tasty and worth the effort.

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