Thanks to a few days’ worth of friend-in-town decadence (greasy, fatty, deliciously expensive decadence, I might add), I was in serious need of something health conscious by Sunday evening, for the sake of both my stomach and my wallet. Something pork- and butter-free, but not so puritan that it would cause a full-system revolt.
I found the answer to my dining conundrum languishing in an ever-growing pile of to-try recipes: a vegetarian black-eyed-pea curry, rich with coconut milk and redolent of cumin, cayenne, and cilantro. I upped the nutritional value by stirring in a handful or two of spinach and using light coconut milk; a squeeze of lemon juice and a spoonful of mango kuchela provided a tangy balance. The results were so tasty that I went straight to the fridge this morning for leftovers.
It’s kind of killing me that it took nearly two years to try this one out. Learn from my mistakes, people.
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup dried black-eyed peas or two 15-ounce cans, drained
2 tablespoons, canola oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
½ teaspoon finely grated garlic (about 1 large clove)
½ teaspoon finely grated ginger (about a 1-inch piece)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, finely ground
¼ cup minced tomato (1 small tomato)
2 cups (or 1 cup if using canned peas) hot water
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste if using canned peas
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. If using dried black-eyed peas, rinse and soak them in enough water to cover for 6 to 8 hours. Drain.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and saute the onion until it turns dark brown, about 8 minutes. Add the coriander, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and cumin, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato and stir over low heat until it disintegrates.
3. Add the peas and mix well. Pour in the hot water, if using, add the salt and sugar, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the peas are cooked through, about 20 minutes. If using canned peas, simmer for only 10 minutes (it is essential to simmer the canned peas, too, so that all the flavors blend better). Stir in the coconut milk and simmer uncovered for another 8 to 10 minutes, again allowing the flavors to come together.
4. Add the cilantro and lemon juice, simmer for 1 minute more, and remove from heat. Serve hot.