Peas for Many Occasions


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes About

    2 Cups

Appears in


By Naomi Duguid

Published 2012

  • About

Fried Rice with Shallots, made with green peas. It’s accompanied by a jar of Fresh Red Chile Chutney, a small bowl of cooked chickpeas (see Peas for Many Occasions, page 112), and, in front, a bowl of Fried Shallots.

Cooked dried peas (chickpeas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas, and more) are so versatile. They can top fried rice, and in Burma they are often served on nan-piar—wheat flatbreads that are close cousins of South Asian naan (see Tender Flatbreads). They’re also one of the toppings for Street-Side Rice Crepes, Myitkyina Style.

Use whichever legume pleases you. I love having a cache of cooked peas in the freezer. All I need to do is reheat them in a little broth or water and season them, and they are ready to be used as a topping, perhaps with the addition of chopped fresh herbs or a squeeze of lime juice. They can also go into a soup to give it more substance. When using them as a topping, mash them a little to prevent them rolling off the bread or crepe.


  • 1 cup dried cowpeas, black-eyed peas, split peas, or chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover
  • 4 cups water or as needed
  • 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped, plus ¼ cup sliced shallot
  • 1 slice ginger, left whole or minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped coriander or other fresh herbs (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lime (optional)


Drain the peas and place in a medium pot with the water, chopped shallot, and ginger, if using. Bring to a vigorous boil, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the peas are tender, 1½ to 2 hours; timing depends on the age of the peas. Add more hot water if it runs low.

About 10 minutes before the peas are done, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the turmeric and sliced shallot, and cook until the shallot is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add to the peas and season to taste with the salt and fish sauce. (If freezing for later use, do not season the peas until you reheat them.) If you wish, top with chopped herbs or some lime juice.

Note on Doubling the Recipe: I often make a double quantity, then divide the cooked peas and freeze them in two or three smaller batches. To cook 2 cups peas, use 7 cups water, 2 or 3 chopped shallots, and double the ginger (if using).