The Black-Eyed Pea is actually more of a bean. They are very nutritious and packed with proteins and vitamins. Their neutral taste provides a great canvas upon which layers of flavors can be added. My Black-eyed Peas with Spinach in a creamy coconut curry is a healthy and delicious dish from the state of Maharashtra, located on India’s west coast. This simple and versatile dish can be served with fragrant Basmati rice, traditional Indian flatbreads or can even be served as a soup.
This dish can be prepared by using traditional cooking techniques (which involves soaking the black-eyed peas overnight and using a pressure cooker) or you can simply use canned black-eyed peas and frozen spinach in a pinch. Either way, your friends and family will really enjoy eating this healthy and hearty dish.
BLACK-EYED PEAS WITH SPINACH & COCONUT CURRY
Yield: 6 servings
1½ cups of dried black-eyed peas (or 2 cans of black-eyed beans,drained & rinsed well)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 piece of ginger, peeled & finely chopped
2 small green chilies, finely minced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
10 ozs of fresh baby spinach (or frozen spinach, thawed & drained), finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp kala masala (or garam masala)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1 can of coconut milk
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
If you are using dried black-eyed peas:
Wash them well in cold water. In a large mixing bowl, cover the black-eyed peas by at least 2 inches of water & soak overnight. When you are ready to use the black-eyed peas, rinse well and place them in a pressure cooker along with enough water to cover and use as directed. I recommend cooking the black-eyed peas in a separate vessel within the pressure cooker. They usually cook in about 12-15 minutes (this may vary among pressure cookers) after pressure has been reached. They should be soft and creamy but not mushy. Alternatively, this could also be done on the stovetop.
In a large pot on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions & saute until softened. Then add the garlic, ginger & green chilies. Mix well to combine & add the spices (turmeric, kala masala, red chili powder, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, salt & pepper). Stir for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is fragrant and then add the tomatoes along with the black-eyed peas (and their cooking liquid if you used the pressure cooker method). Stir well & add in the coconut milk. Then cover, reduce the heat to low & let simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. Lastly, add the spinach leaves, mix well & let cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves & serve with warm phulkas & fragrant Basmati rice.