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