Uma leaf is the local leaf used in wrapping moi moi and other meals. It not only adds a certain taste and flavour to it, it also helps it to cook faster. Wrapping moi moi paste in uma leaves is an art. If mastery of it is not achieved before use, the result can be discouraging; moi moi paste will leak out of the leaves and into the pot, ruining what should have been a good meal.
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Today, we’ll learn how to prepare and use uma leaves to wrap moi moi.
The first step in preparing the leaves is rinsing. These leaves are usually very dirty so it’s best to rinse them thoroughly before use. If you fail to do a good job of rinsing, you might end up with wraps of sandy moi moi. After rinsing, trim off the stem with scissors. Afterwards, gently break the stem part in between the leaves every one inch apart, half way.
Flip the leaves over so that the spine is facing you. With one hand, flip the right half of the leaf over the spine. Let it lie over the spine. Wrap the other part of the leaf over it forming a v shaped funnel, one that narrows down into a tail. The last bit of leaves should lie against the body of the tail and you can use your thumb to hold it down. Please make sure that the tail end of the leaf properly wraps. If it is not done properly, the paste will leak as soon as you pour it in.
Whilst holding the well wrapped leaves in one hand, use the other hand to fold the tail end of the funnel backwards. When it snaps, use the fingers on the hand holding the funnel to widen it and ensure that the inner wrap is still lying against the body of the funnel. Use a small cup or plate to pour the beans paste into it.
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Let me mention at this point that the wrapped leaves should be only three quarter full. That means you should stop pouring beans paste once you get to the beginning of the v shape.
Once you get to the v shape, use your other hand to pinch the top right part of the leaves between your fingers then fold it to the left over spine to get a rectangle which you pin down with the top of the other hand. With your free hand do same to the other half of the leaf. This would close the funnel.
Now, free the thumb which you used to pin down one fold and use it to pin down both sides. Then fold the shape backwards. There now, your moi moi is ready for the fire. So, place the wrap in the pot ensuring that the moi moi is sitting flat in the folded bits so that the wraps will not loosen. Repeat the process till the beans paste is finished.
Add a cup of water to the pot. Cover the wraps of moi moi with one leaf then cover the pot and allow it to steam on low heat. When the moi moi is ready, the colour of the leaves change from dark green to brown.
Below is a video by Naija Infusions on how to go about it.
Cooking with Seki
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