A major overhaul is starting to happen when it comes to the distribution and presentation in West African food, be that in the restaurant industry or the supermarket industry. Taking a look at the supermarket industry in particular, emerging brands are rethinking ways to deliver products to the consumer. Traditional foods such as Jollof Rice, Chin Chin and now Moin Moin are following suit of ready cooked and ready mixed products so that someone with a relatively busy lifestyle can still enjoy the flavours of West African foods with minimal effort in the kitchen.
Real African Foods Co, the makers of Love Chin Chin, have released a product which contains a premixed packet of moin moin (a savoury pudding made from beans). The mix comes packaged in a small cardboard box decorated with green borders that mimic the shape of leaves dotted with black eyed beans. While the mix does contain typical ingredients for moin moin, there are a few unusual ingredients too. This includes rice flour, lemon juice, carrot powder and parsley. They may not be your traditional ingredients for moin moin but there’s nothing traditional about making moin moin from a box either. Unfortunately, each serving doesn’t come in individual sachets so you will need to measure according to how many people you’re serving. There also isn’t away to reseal the bag so you might find yourself cooking it all in one go to avoid the mixture going stale.
On the back of the box are instructions on how to make the moin moin which is simply a case of mixing the flour with water. The packet recommends using a ramekin however it has no qualms against you using a different type of mould. It’s important to note, a standard ramekin holds roughly 100ml so you may want to bear this in mind should you choose to use something else. If you decide to use the whole packet, you should be left with 8 moulds, which is enough to serve 4 people. Once you’ve done that you are given a choice of steaming or microwaving.
The microwaving method takes significantly less time to make than the steaming method. To do this you simply pour the mixed moin moin batter into the ramekin cover it and place in a bowl of water to cook in the microwave for 5 minutes. There is a major difference in turn out if you place the ramekin in boiling water before microwaving as opposed to using cold water. If you don’t have a ramekin, some form of microwave safe tupperware will do, though you’ll need something to hold it down to stop it from floating. Alternatively, you can double up the size and microwave it a few minutes longer than suggested as the centre might not set properly. The downside to the microwave version is your kitchen will have a lingering smell of boiled eggs however if you hate the idea of your food taking longer than 10 minutes this is for you.
The steaming method, the more traditional method, takes 30 minutes which is still less time in comparison to homemade moin moin. Placing the container of moin moin in a 2-tier stainless steel steamer system over high heat worked well. Similarly, to the microwaving method, it’s best to make sure the water is boiling before you start the steaming process. The most suitable alternative to a ramekin in this instance is a pudding mould. There is a slight white film that appears on top of the moin moin when you take it out of the steamer, probably from the use of rice flour. However, it does disappear once the moin moin is set. You do need to tease the moin moin out of the mould as it doesn’t come out as easily as the microwaved version. You’re most likely to use this version if you want a more filling meal or even as shortcut for a dinner party.
Your stance on ready meals will determine whether this product is for you. Excluding the fact, it’s not wrapped in a banana leaf or something of the sort, there is very little difference in taste to moin moin made from scratch. It also fairs much better than its tinned competitor from Varo foods in the fact that you can add your own ingredients (for example pulled pork, diced lamb or poached eggs) and not be greeted with a fishy smell. The portion sizes won’t be what you’d get at a Big Fat Nigerian Wedding, but that’s fine if you’re not into death by food and believe in realistic portion sizes.
Real African Foods has made a really promising product and is well and truly on its way to being one of the first African brands to breakout of the “Ethnic Foods” section and possibly migrate to the ‘Meal Kits’ section (provided that’s the path it wants to go down).