Black-eyed Pea Steamed Pudding

Tubaani / Tubani

Ghana has a simple steamed black-eyed pea paste pudding called tubaani/tubani. I learned to make it in Tamale in Northern Ghana. Tubaani provides a healthy, hearty vegetarian snack or meal accompaniment.

We made our tubaani using flour from black-eyed peas, and that is the recipe included here. However, one could substitute the same basic paste obtained after soaking and dehulling dried black-eyed peas. Or substitute Nigerian moin-moin flour available in African markets.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground dried black-eyed peas or black-eyed pea flour
  • 3 cups warm water
  • About 8 plantain (banana) leaves for wrapping, or aluminum foil (nonstick is nice), or parchment paper
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder or 1 teaspoon baking soda

Special Equipment

  • Deep pot with insert for steaming and tight-fitting lid

Method

Directions

Prepare pudding paste

  1. Sift 2 cups of black-eyed pea flour into a bowl. (If grinding your own dried black-eyed peas, pick through, and rinse, if necessary, before grinding them a cup at a time in an electric blender, straining the flour several times and regrinding the larger pieces. Discard any pieces that cannot be ground fine.)
  2. Add 3 cups of warm water to the flour while stirring with a fork. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 hour.

Prepare the leaves/foil/parchment

  1. If using frozen plantain leaves, defrost them. The leaves impart a delicate flavor to the tubaani, but if they are not available, foil or parchment are the easiest substitutes. If using foil/parchment, tear off about 18 inches, lay it on the table so the shiny or nonstick side is up, and fold in half horizontally (so the shiny or nonstick side is on the inside of the packet). This makes a long rectangle about 18 inches by 6 inches. Cut the foil/parchment into thirds to get 3 packets about 6 inches long. Fold the two cut ends of each packet over about ¼ inch and repeat folds once or twice more until you have little packages with one end open. (The folds are important so that the pudding does not seep out the sides while it is steaming.) Use your hand to open the packet slightly to make room to add the dough. Repeat the entire process as necessary until you have enough packets to contain all the pudding paste—2 cups of flour will make about 8 balls using the size of foil described. Remember to have the packets ready before you beat the pudding paste with the mixer.

Prepare packets and steam pudding

  1. Put several cups of water into a pot with a steamer insert (or improvise one using a metal colander or similar item).
  2. After the pudding paste has sat for an hour, beat the mixture with an electric or rotary beater on medium-high for about 5 minutes to beat air into it and make it a bit fluffy, kind of like whipped heavy cream. Near the end of the 5 minutes add the baking powder or soda and mix it in thoroughly.
  3. When the pudding paste is ready, bring the water in the steamer to a boil while filling the packets. Using a spoon, fill each foil/parchment packet about two-thirds full with the batter. Do not fill them more than about two-thirds full, to allow room for expansion as they steam. If using the leaves, make a slight “cup” in your palm and holding a leaf with the underside up, spoon a spoonful of the pudding paste into it, then fold one side over, then the other, then the two ends, one at a time. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
  4. Place the packets on the steaming tray and put into the pot and steam them for about 45 minutes. They should be firm but not hard. Remove one from the steamer after half an hour and check for doneness.

To serve

Serve warm or at room temperature in any of the following ways:

Open the packets, cut the pudding into pieces on the diagonal, then sprinkle with a mixture of coarsely pounded salt and pounded dry red pepper. (This is how it was served in Tamale.)

Slice half a large onion and fry it in several tablespoons of oil (such as sheanut or peanut oil), and serve over or alongside the tubaani.

Slice the tubaani and sprinkle with salt, dried red pepper, and sliced onion.

Serve the tubaani with a simple gravy or stew.