You may think of black-eyed peas as an ingredient of the American South but plenty of people in Asia enjoy them. I’ve encountered them in Vietnamese sweet soup and shaved ice snacks. Black-eyed peas are also beloved in Indian kitchens, where they’re known as lobhia.
The buttery little black-and cream colored beans cook quickly and have a tender skin. They’re meaty but in a delicate way, almost as if they’re the seafood of beans. Robust kidney beans, in my mind, are more like the beef or pork of beans.
In this recipe from Indian Cooking Unfolded, a new book from talented cooking teacher Raghavan Iyer, black-eyed peas are imbued with lots of spice and heat, as well as the earthy goodness of collard greens. There’s tomato tang too. The little beans take on the seasonings and essence of the other ingredients in a marvelous way.
Raghavan’s book offers an amazing primer on Indian cooking via 100 recipes. This one gives an iconic combination of ingredients from the American South an authentic Indian identity. It’s easy to compartmentalize cuisines and cultures, but we’re living in an era of borderless cooking. I’m all for it as long it as it tastes good and makes sense. Indian Cooking Unfolded accomplishes just that and more.
- Black-eyed peas cook fairly quickly so I prepared mine from dried beans. You can prep the other ingredients as they simmer but if you want to use canned or frozen ones, go right ahead.
- Kale, such as Russian or Lacinato/dinosaur kale, can substitute for the collards. If you opt for chard, use the spine too because chard collapses down to next to nothing in the pot.
- The black-eyed peas with collard greens are great as a side dish or vegetarian entree with warm whole wheat or corn tortillas, or rice. Add a plop of plain yogurt (such as lowfat Greek, adding a touch of water to loosen) if you want to tame the flavors. I kept this in the fridge for about 3 days and with a splash of water, it reheated well in the microwave oven and on the stove.
- Wondering about the history of black-eyed peas? I included it in this other recipe post.
Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens
Lobhia Aur Saag
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
- 1 large bunch (about 1 lb / 450 g) collard greens
- 2 tablespoons ghee, butter, or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
- A 14.5-ounce (435 g) can diced tomato with their juice
- In a medium saucepan, rinse the dried black-eyed peas. Add water to cover by a good 1/2 inch (1.25 cm). Discard any peas that float. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook, covered, for 35 to 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
- While the peas cook, trim each collard green leaf of its tough middle spine. Stack several of the cut pieces of leaves together and cut crosswise into short ribbons, each about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) wide. Set aside.
- Heat the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the ghee shimmers, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant and light brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garam masala, salt and cayenne, stir to combine and cook the spices.
- Add the greens by the handful, stirring them into the pan. When wilted, add another handful, and repeat until all the collards are in the pan. Add the black-eyed peas and tomato. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes; occasionally stir and check on the pot progress. Aim to meld the flavors and allow the peals to soak up the seasonings. Remove from the heat, let rest for about 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy warm.
Adapted from Indian Cooking Unfolded by Raghavan Iyer (Workman, 2013)