Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nigerian Bambara Nut Moi-Moi (Okpa)

Ready to eat Okpa

In Nigeria, we have various recipes on puddings and cakes such as Bean Cake known as Akara, Moi-Moi also made from beans, Okpa etc. Okpa as it is called is a sister to Moi-Moi and the major ingredient and method of preparation though similar to moi-moi is also completely different in taste.
It is a common food in the eastern and mid-belt part of Nigeria and I have observed that some of the other regions of the country may not be familiar with neither the recipe nor the major ingredient; Bambara Nut. The bambara nut is mostly grown in northern Nigeria, it is use to prepare other foods synonymous with the northerners such a snack called Gurujia (bambara nut cake/crackers). Gurujia is the name of Bambara nut in Hausa language, and it is called Ekpeyi in Idoma language (mid-belt Nigeria).

Bambara Nut is a legume crop belonging to groundnut and beans family, hence it is also very rich in protein and fiber. I recommend Okpa for every family because of its nutritional value and it fills up the stomach such that after eating a small quantity, one may not feel hungry for up to 8-10 hours in a day. All you need to do is prepare it well just like my recipe below and enjoy the unique taste of this healthy meal;OKPA!

The following ingredients are estimated to produce 10-13 medium size Okpa. First you have to buy bambara nut(see below Bambara Nut seeds) and take to a grinding mill for it to be converted into powder. After the first milling process, the chaff is removed and separated from the main powder. It is grounded again to get a smoother powder, then you do not have to sieve at home. Store it in a dry container and cover it properly.

-About 900-1kg of Bambara Nut powder.
-10-15 tablespoons of Palm oil.
- 2 tablespoons of crayfish.
-1 teaspoon of black blended pepper (uziza seeds)
-8-10 fresh chili bonnet pepper.
-1 medium size onion.
-3 seasoning cubes.
-Transparent polythene bags for moi-moi or roasted plantain or banana leaves.
-1 full teaspoon of salt.
-Warm-Slightly Hot Water.
Bambara Groundnut - Joseph Nketiah Berchie
Bambara Groundnut
Photo Credit: Joseph Nketiah Berchie
Bambara Nut Powder mixed with Palm Oil

Method of Preparation
-The first step is to measure the bambara nut powder into a wide and deep bowl void of any moisture. Add the palm oil and use your both palms, begin to mix the oil and bambara nut together by rubbing the mixture in between your palms. Ensure that the powder has absorbed the oil completely; you can add more palm oil if you observed the mixture does not present a bright yellow color. See my photo insert of what to expect after the use of your palms to mix the powder and palm oil. Set aside and begin to prepare the other ingredients.

-Remove the seeds of the pepper and wash it likewise,clean the crayfish either by picking out debris or give it a quick wash with warm water to get rid of sand. Dice the onions and now add to the washed pepper,crayfish, and pound or blend it together. It does not have to be blended smoothly like in the preparation of moi-moi.

-At this stage you have to be careful not to over dilute or under dilute the already mixed bambara nut. This stage determines how fluffy the final outcome of your Okpa. Also, you do not have to be in a rush to mix all the ingredients together at this stage. You have to patiently use your fingers deep into the paste and crush any clumps or alternatively you can use an electric blender. Add the warm to slightly hot water into the bambara nut, mix as you pour till you get a light to thick paste. You will notice that the paste thickens fast as you add water.

-You can now add the blended pepper,crayfish and onions into the bambara nut paste and mix thoroughly with a big cooking spoon or wooden spatula. Next, add the blended black pepper and mix well to ensure there is no clump in the mixture. Then finally add the seasoning cubes first and salt bit by bit,taste to ensure the final taste is balanced.

-I advise you use the transparent polythene bags strong enough to withstand the cooking steam. I have not mastered the use of banana leaves yet, though some lovers of Okpa believe it tastes better with the leaves use as the wrapper. Just make do with the polythene bags since its cheap and readily available. You can decide to use two bags at a time in order to avoid it bursting while cooking. You just double it together, with the opening wide enough, scoop your desired quantity of the complete Okpa mixture with a deep cooking spoon and pour into the wrapper. Tie it strong enough to avoid spillage. When you are done with the scooping/tying, set them aside in a bowl.

- Add some warm water into a wide and deep pot that can contain the tied mixture. Place the pot of water on the fire and regulate the heat to medium. Cover the pot and allow the water to become hot, then begin to place the Okpa into the pot of water gently, shake it so that the ingredients do not settle on one side in the bags.

-Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 1 hour minimum. When you notice the Okpa showing sign of caking or splitting, then select a small sized Okpa and open it to taste for any rawness. When its properly cooked, turn off the heat and put the ones you intend to eat immediately into a bowl of cold water for some minutes before slicing it to eat. You can cover the rest in the pot to retain the steam that will keep it soft.

-You can store Okpa in the refrigerator and warm it thoroughly before eating to make it soft. It gets harder by the day but adequate pre-heating can make it soft again.

Aaaaaaaaahhh…I know you will smile with satisfaction after eating your first bite of this healthy and delicious meal. You can serve it with pap, custard or any other food just like when serving moi-moi, even with green vegetable leaves like bitterleaf, dandelion (effirin, scent, curry) which can be added and cooked with it.Yummy..right? Bon Appetit!

I look forward to receiving your comments/feedbacks. Thank you.


  1. Thanks for sharing this enthralling food science and technology to me that I didn't learn it at University though I studied Food Science & Technology there.
    As a freelance translator I love your blog site with all my heart and I will be paying a visit to it.

  2. thanks abdullah for stopping by.Okpa is one meal my family and I never get tired of,its a food that can carry you through a whole day

  3. Thanks for sharing. Will try out this recipe asap.

    1. Thanks Deinabo for stopping by,do let me know the outcome when you make your Okpa

  4. Wow i've never eaten okpa. But I'd try it out since I'm a moi moi expert.

    It sounds so healthy. I wonder why it's not so popular in Port Harcourt.

    1. thanks Anonymous reader,the main ingredient Bambara nut is not easily found in Port Harcourt its mostly grown in northern Nigeria and readily available in Mid-Belt Nigeria.It super healthy as it is rich in fibre and vitamin A and other will definitely enjoy it

  5. Nice write up. But I want to correct an impression. Okpa is not the same as moi moi. They aren't even made out of the same specie of beans.

    1. thanks for dropping a line. I do understand that Okpa and Moi-Moi are different in their major ingredient, it was added to the title for easy pop up in search engine and to give first time eaters to accept Okpa like moi-moi

  6. Nice write up but your recipe is a bit complex... You add too much ingredients like you are cooing moi moi. All those will take way okpa's natural flavor.
    For real basic okpa recipe, you just need the ground okpa, palm oil, pepper and salt or seasoning cubes.

  7. If you open your pot of cooking okpa in less than 30 minutes, will it have any effect on the okpa?


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