Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Spicy Black Eyed Beans

Pulses are always a good fall back ingredient I find. After our weekend away I needed something interesting for dinner that might go well for lunch next day and I had a packet of black eyed beans still unopened from my last trip to Taj Stores and I was curious. I have never eaten them before though I have seen them on store shelves a million times. They are a pretty little bean, creamy in colour with a black scar across the middle from where they are harvested.

They are hugely popular in the American south to the extent of being the main ingredient in 'Hoppin John' a traditional dish for New Years Day but were probably introduced by African slaves. They grow well in hot climates and are still a major food source in Africa and are used as well in Indian cuisine, spiced for curries or combined with rice for a meal rich in protein. Here they add a little sunshine to the end of winter.

Like most beans these need soaking for at least a few hours but this dish is very simple and tasty.

Spicy Black Eyed Beans

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 tsp grated ginger root
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1-2 green chilis, chopped
1 tbsp tamarind pulp or plain yogurt
1 tbspn ghee
2/3 cup sliced onion
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
2-3 tbsp coriander leaves

Rinse and soak beans for a couple of hours then drain, rinse again and put into a pan. Cover with fresh water. Bring beans to a boil over medium heat then add half the ginger, the chili powder, and the tumeric. Reduce heat, cover the pan and cook gently for 45-50 minutes Add remaining ginger, chilis, tamarind pulp or yogurt, mix well and let it simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a small fry pan and fry onion over a very low heat until it carmelizes. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and stir, keeping the heat low. Remove pan from heat just as garlic begins to colour. Pour mixture into beans, together with Garam masala, stir and cook another 5 minutes. Check seasoning - it will need salt - then serve with some fresh cucumber slices and chapattis.

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