Lobia masala

Black-eyed pea curry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Also known as cow peas, and in Sri Lanka as kaupi, and India as lobia, black-eyed peas are easy to grow, can tolerate the dry, and are an easy form of protein and calories across the subcontinent. When the peas sprout, farmers plough them into the soil, to regenerate it for the next crop.

Black-eyed peas are often ground into a flour and pastes for use in different recipes; the starch is said to digest quite slowly this way. (I remember my grandmother telling me this was good for maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. When I was growing up, Ayurveda was part of everyday life in Sri Lanka and India, as it still is today.) The peas also make a delicious curry, such as this one.

Preparation 30 minutes + 4–5 hours soaking
COOKING about 1 hour


  • 185 g ( oz/1 cup) dried black-eyed peas
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) rice bran oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 Indian green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 potatoes, boiled in their skins, then peeled and crushed
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon Chaat masala
  • chapatti, to serve


Wash the peas and leave to soak in plenty of lukewarm water for 4–5 hours.

Drain the peas and place in a pressure cooker or heavy-based saucepan with a pinch of salt and enough water to cover. Pressure cook the peas for 10 minutes, or boil them for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the rice bran oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, green chilli and ginger garlic paste and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomato and cook, stirring now and then, for about 5 minutes, until the tomato turns pulpy and is thoroughly cooked. Set aside.

In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start to splutter, stir in the tomato mixture, along with the pepper, ground spices, salt and 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water.

Cook, uncovered, over medium–low heat for at least 15 minutes, or until the gravy is dry and a little dark in colour.

Add the boiled peas, along with 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of water, mix all the ingredients well. Stir in the crushed potatoes and leave to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the gravy thickens.

Garnish with coriander leaves and a sprinkling of garam masala. Serve hot, with chapatti.