Known as Olehleh in Sierra Leone and Gambia, Koki in Cameroun, Moi Moi is also one of the most affordable street snacks in Nigeria.
It is protein-packed as the main ingredient of this delight is black eyed peas.
Growing up in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) and my mother being from Sierra Leone, we traveled a lot to Freetown throughout the year, which is where and how I got familiar with Olehleh.
I remember the street vendor, a woman walking on Highbroad Street in Murray Town (my grandparents’ neighborhood in Freetown), with a large pan on her head, filled with Olehleh (wrapped in banana leaves), covered with layers of cloth to keep them warm.
I also recall her selling two versions: olehleh with oil and olehleh with palm oil.
You could tell the difference by looking at the color of the olehleh: the palm oil once was more reddish-looking and you could see traces of the palm oil on the leaves.
My mom would buy a large amount (both oil and palm oil) to feed the whole house.
I remember sitting on the steps of my late grandparents’ home with my cousins and devouring Olehleh with a bread loaf, purchased from the Fullah vendor next door.
Quite a ride down memory lane, isn’t it?
Join me as I share my personal take and recipe on how to make Olehleh/Moi Moi.
7 cups black eye peas, peeled and soaked in water for 1 to 2 hours
(I had some peas leftover from the last time I made Moi Moi in the freezer. Some of it was partially peeled but it’s OK if you have some of the black eye in the batter)
3/4 red bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1 large yellow onion
2 habanero peppers, or jalapeno (if you prefer)
(you can add more if you want your Moi Moi to be very spicy)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cooking spray (for greasing)
1/2 TBSP + 1/4 TSP black pepper
1 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 3/4 TSP salt
7 maggi bouillon cubes
5 TBSP ground boney fish
1 TBSP ground crawfish
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
Large aluminum pan
PREPARATION: BLACK EYED PEAS
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Put your peas and 3 1/4 cup of water in a blender. Puree until the peas are in paste form.
Depending on the size of your blender, you can divide your peas and do two rounds.
This is a very important step and most likely where you might spend a lot of time, as it will determine the texture of your Moi Moi/Olehleh.
Puree your peas very well, you can also even liquefy to ensure that all pea bits are well pureed.
When done, pour in a bowl and set aside.
PREPARATION: TOMATO SAUCE
Rinse out your blender to remove any traces of the peas or if you have another blender, you can simply use it.
Add all of your bell peppers, onion and habanero peppers with 3/4 cup of water.
Puree, liquefy and set aside.
COOKING: TOMATO SAUCE
Pour your tomato sauce blend and oil into a saucepan on medium heat.
Add all of the spices.
Let cook for 15 to 25 minutes (stir occasionally).
Note: the taste of your moi moi solely relies on how well your prepare and season the tomato sauce as it will be stirred into the black eye peas puree.
Olehleh is typically steamed in banana leaves but I did not have any so I baked them in the oven, in a muffin pan.
Fill the large aluminum pan with tap water, close to about 1/3 full.
Grease the muffin pan with cooking spray and with a ladle, pour your Moi Moi mixture in each muffin hole, about 3/4 full.
When your muffin holes are filled, slide the lower rack of your oven out (half way through).
Set your aluminum pan filled with water on the rack and carefully put the muffin pan in the water filled pan.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Use a knife to poke the muffins to ensure that they are cooked through.
If ready, take everything out of the oven, remove your muffin pan from the aluminum pan and let cool on a cooling rack.
Plate and serve.
Hope you enjoy this culinary journey to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroun and Gambia!
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