Sunday mornings are when I leisurely cook a pot of beans. I have made rajma for several weekends now, simmering the beans for almost three hours each time. The boys enjoy sitting down to a hearty meal of rice and beans after their morning soccer class, and I feel sated just watching them eat. Beans are soul warming and belly filling, and you almost can’t mess them up with long, slow cooking.
This weekend I made Sanjeev Kapoor’s black-eyed peas, his lobia rassedar, from his book of Accompaniments. Although I already have a good recipe for black-eyed peas that I’ve written about before, his recipe read a little differently from mine. It called for yellow fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chillies sputtered in hot oil (the tadka) and ground up with fresh ginger and garlic. No garam masala except for a stick of cinnamon thrown into the browning onions at the beginning. Chopped tomatoes tossed in a little later. I was intrigued, and excited to pound the hand-ground paste in my granite Thai mortar and pestle that had been acquired in lieu of the Indian sil batta that I so desired.
I was not disappointed. The tadka spices and ginger-garlic sent up a earthy, heady aroma as I crushed them into a thick brown paste. My browned onions and tomatoes cooked down into a rich curry. The stew sent off rich, appetizing smells as it slowly cooked on the stove. The black-eyed pea was unusual and delicious, and especially tasty with delicate, fresh green methi parathas.
Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s Accompaniments
1 ½ cups of black eyed peas, called lobia
2 cups of onions, diced
1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp of ginger, chopped
2 tbsp of garlic, chopped
1 tsp of cumin seeds
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds
2 whole red chillies, optional
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1-2 tsps of red chilli powder, optional
A handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
4 tbsps of oil
salt to taste
- Boil or pressure cook the black-eyed peas until soft and the peas squash easily between your fingertips. Set aside and save the cooking liquid.
- While the lobia is cooking, heat 3 tbsps of oil in a pan and add the cinnamon stick. When the oil becomes hot, add the onions and sauté on medium-low heat for about ten minutes until the onions are medium brown.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, and add the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and the dried red chillies. Fry the spices in the oil for a minute or so (be careful to not burn), and then transfer into a mortar, along with the chopped ginger and garlic. Grind into a coarse paste either by hand or in a small food processor.
- When the onions are brown, add the tomato, ground paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Cover and cook for several minutes until well combined and oil begins to ooze from the sides of the mixture. Stir occasionally to prevent the paste from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning
- Add the lobia with its cooking the water into the pan. Add a little more water if needed. Cover and bring to boil, then simmer for at least ten to fifteen minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with parathas.