Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recipe #10: Tubaane (Steamed cowpea paste cakes)

In March, 2007, I interviewed and shadowed Mrs. Sodeinde to learn how to make the famous Nigerian seasoned steamed cowpea paste cakes known as moin-moin (moyin-moyin, moi-moi), of which there are varieties ranging from simple to complex. Ghana has a cowpea paste cake steamed in banana leaves and known as tubaane (which I understand is called ekuru in Yoruba).

Cowpea paste is a basic building block of a number of West African recipes, including akara (kose, koose, akla). It is commonly made from dehulled dried black-eyed peas. The traditional way of preparing the black-eyed peas is to soak the beans briefly (experts recommend only for about 10 minutes so that the peas do not absorb excessive amounts of water), and use your hands and/or a food processor to remove the skins. The moin-moin posting above shows some video clips demonstrating how to do this. However, this time-consuming process is now simplified by 2 versions of convenience foods: both dried beans (peas) with the skins already removed, and a prepared powder that only needs to be reconstituted in water.

A couple of days ago I made some tubaane using the powder, but had problems determining the correct amount of water to add and also neglected to beat air into the paste the way they do in Ghana. My tubaane was too heavy and dry.

I'll try again tomorrow, using a mixer for 5 or 10 minutes to whip the paste before I wrap and steam it. In Ghana we wrapped the dough in plantain leaves, so I bought some frozen ones from an international market, and will see if I can use them. Otherwise, I'll opt for parchment paper. Hope you'll stop back to see how it works out.

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