Recipe: New Year Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

This recipe is from Llano Seco’s dear friend and culinary mentor Niloufer Ichaporia King, a specialist in tropical cuisines and author of My Bombay Kitchen: traditional and modern Parsi home cooking (University of California Press, 2007).

This improvisation on a lazy rainy afternoon has become our favorite way of eating the ritual good-luck black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Like many recipes for legumes, you should see this one as a signpost not a blue print, and add your own touches. You can leave out the spices (except for the garlic and ginger) or reduce the quantities.

1. Cook 1 lb of Llano Seco Black-Eyed Peas following the basic cooking instructions, adding salt in the last stages of cooking. Leave the black-eyed peas in their cooking liquid.

2. Strip the ribs from a bunch of green-leafed chard or kale. Stack the leaves, roll them and cut into strips about 1.4” wide. Blanch them in plenty of boiling water. Drain and set aside.

3. In 3 tablespoons olive oil, saute 1 large onion, finely chopped, until translucent. Add 2-3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, and 1/2” section of fresh ginger root peeled and finely chopped, and stir for a minute or so over moderate heat. Follow with 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and 1 teaspoon Garam Masala (see note) and stir for another two minutes, adding small amounts of water if things start to stick.

4. Add the onion and spice mixture to the black-eyed peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then add the greens and more water if necessary. Taste for salt again, bring to a boil once more, lower heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. (This is not the place for al dente greens.)

5. Serve with sausages, crusty bread and salad. Happy New Year!

Note: Garam Masala is easy to make if you have a coffee grinder you keep for spices, and amply repays for the minimal effort entailed. A very easy one adapted from Madhur Jaffrey: pulverize 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds (out of their papery husks), 1 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 2-inch piece of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. What you don’t use should be stored tightly covered and out of the light.

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