I used to be quite anti-beans. And tofu. This is hilarious considering these two things form the basis for my current diet. Now, I’m all about whole foods over processed “fake” meats (though they serve their purpose and Buddhist restaurants can do amazing things with vital gluten flour!). One of the main reasons for my conversion, other than knocking meat out of my diet, was one of my best friends’ mums. She will henceforth be referred to as Mama Oddsocks.
A few years ago Mama Oddsocks made this recipe and, being wary of all things legume to the point of open hostility, I tried to avoid it in my quest to eat everything she’d laid on the table. Somehow, however, I suspect in hindsight polite mention that I hadn’t had any of the black-eyed peas yet, I ended up trying them.
And they were amazing.
I’m certain I had seconds.
Fast forward to now and the pack of dried black-eyed peas in my cupboard. I bought them at least a year ago when I spotted them in a health food shop. Black-eyed peas aren’t something I encounter regularly; I don’t see them in cans in supermarkets or dried in kilogram bags near the soup or Indian pastes. This makes them a “specialty” item in my book – they involve some sort of effort on my part. When I saw them, however, I remembered this recipe from years ago – it left that good of an impression – and bought them for that purpose.
And they’ve sat in my cupboard ever since, overlooked as I made an endless stream of stirfries, soups, stews and curries based around other, less special, legumes. Until I finally got around to getting the recipe from Mama Oddsocks.
Please ignore the fact that they were past their “best before” date when I did finally do that.
I boiled them up at the start of the week, determined that this week was the week and threw them in the fridge. Waiting… again.
I made a pilgrimage to Mama Oddsocks and, over more amazing food, requested the recipe. It was so long since I’d had those beans that Mama Oddsocks herself exclaimed she hadn’t made them in forever and took a while to locate the recipe, which I scribbled down and took home like a gift from God.
I scrambled to find some paprika (no, I don’t know why I didn’t notice it had run out earlier, either) and got to work. They cooked in a crazily quick time.
And they were better than I remembered – if I’d known they were this quick and delicious they would have been added to the curry rotation ages ago. The seasoning is versatile and definitely not restricted to black-eyed peas, though it gave them a great daal-like quality. I texted Mama Oddsocks gushing praise with one hand and with a fork in the other.
Mama Oddsocks’ African black-eyed peas
- 2 tbsp cooking oil of choice
- 375g black eyed peas (soaked or drained)
- 200g eggplant, diced
- 1/2 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tomato paste sachet (about 50g)
- 400g tin coconut milk (light works fine)
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- Sautee onion in oil of choice until soft.
- Add cauliflower florets and eggplant and a little more oil and sautee until eggplant begins to soften.
- Add black eyed peas, coconut milk, tomato paste and spices. Stir and simmer until sauce reduces.
- Serve with rice.
- I added eggplant and cauliflower because I had them lying around and they fit well with curries, other things you could easily add or replace include peas, green beans, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potato… you get the idea, right? This is versatile.
- Legumes – this certainly isn’t restricted to black-eyed peas and in future I probably won’t use them because I don’t often have them on hand. Instead I’m thinking split peas, chickpeas, cannellini, adzuki or kidney beans.
- Chili – I’m tempted to try fresh red chili in this (I’m a fan of spicy things), or at least experimenting with upping the heat with the cayenne powder. In fact, I may try and max out the spices just to see how far I can push it before it breaks and then pare it back to where I like it. This is the master recipe but probably not the ultimate version.