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BN Cuisine with Dooney’s Kitchen: The Ekuru Muffin

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I have been in many conversations with friends and family, where we say if only boys were raised as difficult as girls are in our society. From birth, your role is already stamped and mapped out for you. Even if you were born with a twin brother, your upbringing is different. Traditionally we are raised to be homemakers from day one and many of the tasks we are taught to do, you must go through the path of resistance, so that you are seen as a ‘good wife’ to your husband and in-laws. Any attempt to take a short cut or use modern appliances is scoffed at and seen as lazy. I remember my mother screaming “don’t let them send you back home to your parents saying I did not raise you well”. There were many of such inane tasks like hand washing clothes, grinding beans/pepper with a grinding stone, which thankfully my father put his foot down and said my sister and I will never need it, sweeping the floor with a broom, pounding yam etc

Even when I put up the shortcut to making pounded yam in a food processor, I had a couple of women tell me vehemently that it is not and cannot be the same thing as the manual version. They closed their mind to the idea, and were not willing to try. If a man said that to me, I won’t even be bothered, but coming from a fellow woman who still wants us to be stuck in the 1900’s despite the fact that women are now pulling their weight financially in the home and in the sphere of business. Mental Slavery I call it.

Peeling beans is another task that I count as drudgery. It drives me up the wall, and many tense Saturday mornings arose between my mother and I over this. I wondered hundreds of times while grumbling under my breath if there was a shortcut to this process or why couldn’t we simply blend the beans with the skin on. You don’t want to know my mother’s response to that ‘impertinent question’ (her words). The only consolation was that her Moin Moin and Akara made you forget the fact that you spent upwards of an hour peeling the ‘stupid beans’ (my words).  Moin Moin, Akara, Gbegiri and Ekuru show up from my kitchen a handful of times a year for this reason.

I tried to take a shortcut with using already peeled dried beans and this time, I did not agree with that ‘shortcut’ because the taste was not the same. Well people, there is a shortcut using real beans. I was given this tip by my readers and from members of the Facebook group So You Think You Can Cook. I did not believe it at first, but I tried it out and was super impressed. I called my mum to taunt her, but alas MTN denied me of the joy of gloating. I wanted to say, I knew it, all those hours peeling beans was for nothing. I can do it in a blender in a fraction of the time.

In case you are wondering what Ekuru is, in the culinary world, it will be called Deconstructed Moin Moin. It is similar to Moin Moin, just that all the other ingredients blended with the beans is taken out and fried in a sauce while the beans is blended and steamed on its own.

You will need

1 1/2 cups of beans –  i used honey beans
Half a cube of Potash – also called kaun or akaun

For the sauce you will need

Palm Oil
1 piece of tomato
1 piece of tatashe – red bell pepper
1 piece of ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
1 red onion
1 tablespoon of crayfish
a few pieces of smoked prawn
1/2 cup of water/beef stock
Seasoning cubes
Salt

How To

Pour the beans into a bowl and add cold water. Let it soak for up to 5 minutes maximum, and ensure that you drain out all the water to prevent the beans from soaking further. Scoop the beans in your hands and add to a blender. Press the pulse button on the blender and watch as the skin peels off. It is expected that some of the beans will break or be crushed, this is why the beans should not soak for more than 5 minutes, otherwise it will become too soft and be crushed more.

If you don’t have the pulse button, if for example you only have the on and off button on your blender, switch it on for a few seconds at a time. Don’t do it longer than 5 seconds.Again, it is expected for some of the beans to break or even crushed to tiny bits. All will depend on how long you soaked the beans for.

Once you have exhausted the soaked beans, add enough cold water to allow the skins to float to the top. Decant and repeat the process again, until the beans are free of skins. You can be a little OCD about your skins, but if you have a few left in, it won’t hurt the colour of the paste.

I added this picture to show that some of the beans will not be peeled completely, but the amount is very small relative to the whole. The picture below shows the bits that did not peel completely and you can see that it is negligible. This entire process of peeling took less than a quarter of the time doing it manually. The majority of the time was spent in rinsing out the skins.

Blend the peeled beans with water to a very smooth paste. Touch at intervals to ensure that it is creamy smooth. The density of the paste should not be thick or watery. Now, tradition says that you must whip air into the paste till it almost doubles in volume to get a fluffy result. You do this for Akara and Moin Moin and even more for Ekuru because it should not be as dense as Moin Moin.

By this time, I would have gotten out the wooden spoon and turned the mixture in circular motions till my arms hurt (old school). No more. Another tip from So You Think You Can Cook, thanks to Omolabake Matthews. Pour the paste into a food processor, attach the whisk and Voila. Zero effort. You can do this in a mixer too.

Sprinkle in the kaun and whip some more until you see big bubbles, and the paste is light and fluffy. This took about 20 minutes

This recipe is about defying convention. Traditionally Ekuru like Moin Moin is steamed using banana leaves, and this I also consider tasking. Tasking with benefits because of the added flavour of the leaves, but now that I live where these leaves are difficult to source, I ask myself sometimes what the use behind all that gruelling tutelage was for, if I am not using it now. I came up with the idea to use Muffin cases to give Ekuru a different but modern twist.

Bake in the oven at 150 degrees (centigrade) for 15 – 18 minutes. Because of all the air that has been whipped into the paste, it will rise nicely in the oven like a Muffin. This air will also collapse a little, shortly after it is out of the oven, so while it is baking, crack on the sauce, so both foods get ready right about the same time.

Ekuru is eaten with a delicious stew, which makes up for the fact that no seasoning was added to the paste. All the flavour you need comes from the stew. This process should span the entire time of baking. Ensure that you have everything prepped and ready to go before the muffins enter the oven.

Chop onions and saute for a few minutes till it softens. Add the red smoked prawns and let it fry with the onions, releasing a delicious smokey and sweet aroma. Add the blended pepper (which should have already been boiled to dry out its water content) and fry for a few minutes to thicken it. Then add about 1 – 2 tablespoons of palm oil for extra flavour and continue frying.

As the pepper thickens, sprinkle in the ground crayfish, a little water or beef stock and fry till you have a really thick stew. Much thicker than the traditional stew you will serve with rice for example. This is what the Yorubas call ‘Ata din din’. 

Right about the 15 – 18 minute mark, the muffins should be cooked with a light brown crust. Stick in a toothpick/cocktail stick into each muffin, it should come out clean. Turn off the oven and test one. Steaming ensures that moisture is locked in, so your muffin may not be as moist as using the leaves, but it should be very close to it, so ensure you don’t bake it for too long.

You can choose to serve it alongside the stew in a separate plate, or make the extra effort to core the centre with a thin serrated knife and fill with the ‘ata din din’ to create a cupcake effect.

Pretty and overall effortless. No slaving over the beans for ages, no getting frustrated wrapping the leaves. This is good food on easy street. Express cooking, in the words of Nigella Lawson. If you haven’t been eating Moin Moin, Akara, Ekuru or Gbegiri because of the drudgery of peeling beans, now you know the easy way out. Please, please, teach your sons and daughters to do the same too.

Now imagine eating your Ekuru Muffin for breakfast with a hot cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate whilst having a lazy Saturday morning reading a book or watching TV. Ekuru can also be eaten for lunch or dinner. It is a light meal option, even weight watchers will agree with.

More on re-imagining the use of bean paste, I was inspired by the comments on Ola Orekunrin’s Post  – The Flying, Doctor, Sex, Drugs and Davido HERE. This picture below is dedicated to the BN reader who left this comment under the name TA. “Yeah,and the day someone comes up with a healthier technique for deep frying Akara,I shall personally nominate the person for Noble prize in Science. He!he!h! “. You had me obsessed about the idea for weeks, till my creative juices came up with this. It was fried with less than 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil. Thank you in advance for my Nobel Prize in Science nomination.

Presenting my Akara topped with ata din din which was modified to create Ewa Aganyin Sauce. It tastes the same as the deep fried version – yes, I compared. It has even more crunch at the edges. The recipe is on my blog.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Dunni Obata is an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. She loves entertainment and one of her bad habits is feeding people. When she’s not cooking, she’s watching the Food Network. Dunni is very passionate about Nigerian food and believes it has a lot to offer globally. Visit her blog – www.dooneyskitchen.com

I'm an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. I love entertaining, and one of my bad habits is feeding people, so guests beware. When I'm not cooking, I'm watching Food Network, American TV series and National Geographic in that order. When I want peace and quiet, I curl up on the sofa and read a good book I'm very passionate about Nigerian food. I believe our food has a lot to offer globally, and with the right exposure, it can stand proud alongside food from other cultures. I'm hoping to get us all fired up and talking about Nigerian cooking irrespective of whatever part of the world you live in. Welcome to Dooney's Kitchen

32 Comments

  1. ccc

    December 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Hmm, looks good; really good! Merry Christmas,
    girl!

    1
    • Dunni Obata

      December 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      Thank you ccc. it was good

      1
  2. Aibee

    December 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Well done Dunni. I’d never have thought of using Muffin
    cups and baking in the oven. I used to think steaming was the only
    to make moi-moi and ekuru. I guess this baking method should work
    for moi-moi too abi?

    1
    • Dunni Obata

      December 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Aibee, the baking method works for Moin Moin. Just pour the mixture into a baking tin or foil dish and whack in the oven. No stress

      1
  3. YummyMummy

    December 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Dunni at it again! oh mine!! I see u at ‘So you think you
    can cook’ Apparently my aunty taught me the beans blending about 2
    years ago and since the I haven’t looked back!

    1
    • Dunni Obata

      December 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks YummyMummy, in fact, I can’t believe I was so late in the game. No more hand peeling

      1
  4. Lola

    December 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Waow,really hate the stress of making Ekuru, but then I
    could take a cue from this, thanks Dooney

    1
  5. Luqman

    December 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Is this Ekuru Muffin different from the same Ekuru we used
    to eat with Eko? This one look like a classic Ekuru

    1
    • bayo

      January 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Eluku!!!!!! you sef dey come here.lol
      Boyo of london

      1
  6. peculiar

    December 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    wao! i love this

    1
  7. dami

    December 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Duuuuunnniiii!!! You rock babes. You really do. X

    1
  8. fluffycutething

    December 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I absolutely love it!!!! Hope i sum up the courage to give it a try some day 😉

    1
  9. kokie

    December 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Nice work. will try out the akara. thanks for the ideas

    1
  10. OmogeNaija

    December 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Yay, this is dooneyrooney live! You inspire me sha, I used to think you are a caterer o

    1
  11. OmogeNaija

    December 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    But ermm, I didn’t know one could bake ekuru and moimoi, does steamed and baked taste alike?

    1
  12. jinkelele

    December 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    hmmm, so whats the difference between ekuru and
    moimoi?

    1
  13. Eebony

    December 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Na wah ooooo,our local Ekuru will never taste the same like this baked one,and remember the leaf flavour too,and try eating the Ekuru with okro or vegetable #Bliss

    1
    • Remi

      December 27, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      And what happens to those people who don’t know how to wrap leaves or can’t find it where they live. Nigerians and backward mentality. If food doesn’t involve slaving in the kitchen it can never taste the same. Abeg go and sit down. When Dunni starts serving Ekuru in 5 star restaurants who wants to know how the local one tastes like. Mschew. I am sure you probably think blending beans does not taste the same as peeling with your hands.

      1
  14. Theresa

    December 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks for all the shortcuts Dunni. I have no more excuses not to make moin-moin now 🙂

    1
  15. Que

    December 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Gosh I dont even know what ekuru is, but I’m hungry now….

    1
  16. Newbie

    December 28, 2013 at 3:05 am

    I like… will try!

    1
  17. M.h

    December 28, 2013 at 7:31 am

    And sorry but I still vote for the old school ways call me backwards,your cup of tea! Its tastes better and the leaf flavor bliss! The question should be what other type of leaf can we use if the banana leaf is not available! We tried making foil paper moi-moi nor b am!

    1
  18. mia

    December 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    This post just proved a point, that it is wrong to think yoruba women can’t cook. Meals like ekuru, ikokore, moin moin, adalu, abari, ewa agoyin, ofada rice etc are originally yoruba delicacies and they are proves that yoruba cooks have always been creative. Thanks Dunni.

    1
  19. mia

    December 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    # proofs

    1
  20. TA

    December 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Dunni o! Dunni of life,ha ha ha! yeah,I left that comment about healthier way to fry Akara,mighty glad to see you took up the
    challenge. 🙂 Thank you o for the shortcuts too and I can’t wait to try your tips on peeling beans ala the easy peasy way. First,am off to your website to see the recipe for healthier Akara and I have the digits for the hot line and email add for the Nobel prize award board,you shall surely get what you have tolled for 😉

    1
  21. TA

    December 28, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Dunni o,Dunni of life! Ha! ha,ha,that was me that left the comment on healthier ways to fry Akara other than deep frying…glad to see someone took up the challenge. As for the shortcuts to peeling and whisking beans,hats off girl ,I like. 🙂 I shall give it a try. But first,am off to your website to see and try the recipe for myself firsthand,yeah the Nobel prize folks in Sweden are waiting 😉
    PS: Big cyber hug for the picture you dedicated to me,hope I don’t see it in my dreams tonight. Thanks 🙂

    1
    • Dunni Obata

      December 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I was refreshing this page, waiting for this TA person to see this post. Really pleased you did. I hope the awarding body at Nobel have looked at my nomination, so that I can start preparing my acceptance speech. hehehehehe. Please try it out and leave a comment either on here or on the blog. Thanks for the challenge

      1
  22. bee

    December 29, 2013 at 7:42 am

    If this idea was gotten from the “all nigerian recipes ” website or youtube channel, I think you should give the credits to her. The owner posted this beans peeling method a while ago.

    1
    • Dunni Obata

      December 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      A while ago, that is open ended. How long ago? Like @Yummymummy said, she has been doing this for 2 years and her aunty taught her. I have also had people telling me they’ve been doing this for 7 years, some even 10+. Please read the post first (I never said it was MY idea) and do a little research first before you come out and accuse someone of using an idea that has existed for ages and hundreds of people already know about and use.

      1
  23. meeeeee

    December 31, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    thanks Dunni

    1
  24. ajibade damilola

    March 26, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    wow! i’m so glad i stumbled on this but em.. can nlyon be used instead of leaves, what wl be the effect on the Ekuru if potash is omitted
    also, can salt be sprinkled on it wen its done?

    1

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