As a Nigerian delicacy typically made with black eyed beans, making Moi-Moi with lentils is easier, quicker, vibrant and taste just as delicious.
Moi-Moi is a traditional Nigerian dish typically made from black-eyed beans. It is a savoury pudding made from blending beans, peppers, onions, seasonings, oil and water into a smooth puree. The preparation usually involves whipping the puree vigorously and wrapping it in African serendipity berry leaves (commonly known as a soft cane in Nigeria). However, banana or plantain leaves are also commonly used to wrap Moi-Moi and other dishes in Nigeria. Moi-Moi is a very versatile dish. It can be eaten as a main course. As a side commonly served with rice dishes. Also a popular dish on a Nigerian party buffet. Makes a perfect accompaniment to Smoky Party-Style Jollof Rice. Also commonly eaten for breakfast/brunch with Nigerian pap (a fermented corn porridge). It is also a common street food that makes a great quick lunch on a busy day.
The classic Moi-Moi recipe with beans is a tedious one. Traditionally the beans must go through a process of soaking, using of hands to wash and removing their skin. Blending the beans in a puree also requires a heavy-duty blender or food processor. Additionally, the time for the beans based Moi-Moi to cook takes at least 1 hour. Lentils on the other hand is a more convenient option and tastes just as delicious. You can hardly tell the difference. For this Moi-Moi recipe I’m using red split lentils, here’s why:
- Cooking time: Takes less time to cook in comparison to regular beans. The cooking time is basically slashed in half.
- Soaking is optional: You can soak the lentils if you are not confident in the strenght of your food processor. However most food processor can break down lentils into a fine paste or powder (lentils flour)
- Vibrant colour: I do not recomment using green lentils or any other colours. Typically smoked vibrant red paprika peppers (tatashe) are added to traditional moi-moi to boost its colour. However, the red lentils already provides a vibrant base.
- Nutritional Benefits: Although lentils have similar nutritional structure to beans. Lentils are higher in protein and lower in carbs than beans. They are also a source of polyphenols and carry a lesser amount of phytates.
The original recipe for moi-moi made with lentil and cooked in food pouches.
I came up with this moi-moi recipe about 3 years ago. I received some cooking pouches that I wanted to try and I had a craving for Moi-Moi also. So I grabbed what was available in my pantry at that time (lentils) and whipped up my first ever lentil Moi-Moi puree. It was perfect. Soft, light, filling, easy to make, melted in my mouth and delicious. cooking the Moi-Moi in pouches are perfect for commercial use especially when you don’t have access to the soft cane or plantain leaves. Likewise, if you need to serve them in disposable packaging at events.
Moi-Moi made with lentils can also be baked in the oven over a pool of water. Similar to how cheesecake is made. You can use ramekins or baking tins for the baked version. For the steamed in a pot version, you can use the pouches as seen above. Additionally, you can use cooking jars that are reusable.
Frequently asked questions about making and serving Moi-Moi with lentil
- Q: What do you serve it with?
- A: This Lentil Moi-Moi can be served the same way simply cooked lentil is served. You can also use it as a spread on bread or as a filling in pies.
- Q: Do the lentil require soaking beforehand?
- A: No, soaking the lentils is not necessary. However, you can soak them if believe your food processor is not strong enough to break the unsoaked lentils.
- Q: Similar to beans, do lentils cause gas?
- A: As with most legumes., lentils contain FODMAPS that can cause bloating and excessive gas production. This is different for everyone. If you have a sensitivity to bloating and the like, I would recommend soaking the lentils for at least an hour before using them. This has been known to reduce the symptoms of bloating or excessive gas.
- Q: Do you eat it cold, room temperature or warm?
- A: There is no right or worng answer. How moi-moi is eaten is based on personal preference. I prefer it warm and that is how I recommend it to most people. However I’ve also eaten moi-moi at room temperature and it was still delicious.
Moi-Moi is a dish that is usually filled with protein before cooking. However, this is optional. The most common choice of proteins is fish. Others are eggs, corned beef or shrimp. The first time making the lentil moi-moi, I used shrimps. Over time I have tried wit with various proteins and they all taste delicious. For this recipe, I used some canned tuna fillets. I also decided to add some fresh sprigs of parsley for an extra depth in flavour. It was mouthwatering.
Lentil Moi-Moi with Tuna and Parsley
- 1 cup red split lentils
- 1 small red bell pepper (chopped in large chunks)
- 1 small onion (chopped in large chunks)
- ½ habanero pepper
- 1 clove garlic (peeled)
- 1 inch ginger (thumb-size and peeled)
- ¼ cup sunflower oil
- 3 sprigs of parsley
- 50 g cooked tuna fillet
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp Salt
- Pour the lentils into a blender/food processor, add the chopped bell pepper, onions, garlic, ginger, and habanero pepper. Add water and blitz into a smooth puree.
- Pour the lentil puree into a bowl, add oil, salt and chopped parsley. Using a whisk, mix together and pour in some water and mix again.
- Using your fingers, break the tuna fillets into the mixture and whisk one last time.
- Pour the mixture into heat-safe jars and top with a leaf of parsley (optional).
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Place the jars into the pot and cover with a lid. Cook for 25 minutes
- Serve and enjot!