This Punjabi-style black-eyed peas curry is a flavorful stew made with onion, garlic, ginger, spices, and tomato, in a rich and creamy yogurt gravy.
Yes! You read right. We really are adding yogurt to hot curry!
The yogurt makes your curry velvety-smooth, and just a tad tangy. I recommend that you use full-fat whole milk yogurt, which is a healthy and satisfying choice.
The yogurt mellows the spices in this black-eyed peas curry. To savor this dish is to enjoy a brilliant symphony of flavor notes, with yogurt playing the role of conductor, bringing everything together.
Enjoy it with basmati rice and flatbread, along with a green salad, for a complete vegetarian dinner. Top your rice and black-eyed peas curry with a dollop of ghee and you’ll be even happier.
Black-Eyed Peas Curry
I am really excited to share this novel recipe with you. Maybe some of you have tried this something like this, but I had never encountered the idea of cooking with yogurt until I discovered it in Indian cuisine.
Because I love it so much, this is the first of many recipes I intend to share with you that call for cooked yogurt. This black-eyed peas curry is your invitation to try this new cooking style.
I choose black-eyed peas to introduce first, because they are popular in the United States, and easy to obtain at most grocery stores.
I really think you will love how the yogurt adds to the flavor of this curry.
Especially for those of you who are new to spicy food, I think you will appreciate the yogurt’s mellowing effect.
Moreover, this black-eyed peas curry tastes decadent, without being full of calories.
It is a dish you can return to week after week for a comforting, nourishing, meatless meal.
What Are Black-Eyed Peas?
I’d like to talk about black-eyed peas for a minute.
I first purchased this pea, which is similar to a bean, at my local Indian grocery store.
Not that it’s the first time I’ve encountered them though.
Black-eyed peas are part of the food fabric of the American South's soul food tradition, in particular a dish called Hoppin’ John.
Hoppin’ John is made with black-eyed peas, rice, onion, bacon, and salt. And sometimes green pepper, vinegar, and spices show up in the mix. Typically, it’s served with cooked greens and cornbread.
Black-eyed peas are striking in appearance. Beige in color, each perfectly marked with a black spot that looks like a heart.
Their diminutive size is also notable. Smaller pulses are easier to digest, and these guys are right in the middle in a spectrum between a lentil and a kidney bean.
Although black-eyed peas look like beans, they are actually peas.
This means you don’t have to soak them as long. After just one hour in soaking water, they will double in size.
This is helpful for cooks who are facing dinner hour without having soaked their beans in the morning, or the night before.
It also means that black-eyed peas don’t take as long to cook.
They’ll cook in just over an hour in a saucepan, while it takes just 8–10 minutes in a pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot.
Which Cuisines Feature Black-Eyed Peas?
Black-eyed peas were thought to have first been domesticated in West Africa, but today they grow throughout Asia and the Southern United States.
They also go by many names, such as black-eyed bean, goat pea, chowla, and lobia.
The black-eyed pea is a subspecies of the cowpea, which is similar in size to the pea, except it tends to be wider and stubbier. You’ll find cowpeas in all sorts of colors, with red and brown being most common.
You can definitely interchange the cowpea for the black-eyed pea in this black-eyed peas curry recipe. All you need to do is add to the soaking and cooking times.
Black-eyed peas are integral to cuisines in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as Cyprus, Turkey, and Portugal, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the South American countries of Brazil, Columbia, Guyana, Trinidad, and Tobago.
Black Eyed Peas On Four Continents
It is amazing to consider how many ways people enjoy black-eyed peas. Here are just a few examples.
With onions, garlic, meat, and tomato juice, and served with Egyptian rice.
Deep-fried black-eyed peas, mashed with, onions, peppers, and salt.
Che dau trang
Black-eyed peas and sticky rice with coconut milk.
With vegetables, oil, salt, and lemon.
Peas with skinned removed, mashed with egg and deep-fried. Eaten as breakfast.
Recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Curry With Yogurt Masala
- 2 cups black-eyed peas, soaked in boiling water for 1 hour
- 5 cups water
Start the masala
- 3 tablespoons ghee, (see notes)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon green chilis (substitute with jalapeños), minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
Add the spices
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (substitute with cayenne pepper), to taste
- 1 1/2 cups freshly chopped tomatoes, (or canned tomato puree)
Finish the curry
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or coriander leaf, chopped
- Soak black-eyed peas for at least one hour. They will double in size. Drain water and rinse 2 to 3 times until the water runs clear. Set aside until needed.
- Heat oil or ghee in a medium saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic, chilis, and ginger until soft, about 6 minutes.
- Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, and red chili powder (or cayenne pepper), and sauté for about 2 minutes, and then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt.
- Simmer for approximately 3 minutes to incorporate the fat and spices well into the tomatoes. Add the soaked black-eyed peas and another pinch of salt, along with 5 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cover partially with lid, and cook for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, until your peas are soft, and the sauce is nice and thick. Stir occasionally, and add extra water if necessary so it doesn’t dry out.
- * If you cook this in a pressure cooker, you will need only 8 minutes of cooking under high pressure to get very soft black-eyed peas. For more details, see my post How to Cook Beans 4 Ways, and also the best stovetop pressure cookers if you would like to see about buying one, (which I highly recommend!)
- Once the beans are soft, turn off the heat and fold in the yogurt, remaining salt, and half the cilantro.
- Taste, and adjust for salt. You could add more red chili now if you want more heat, since the yogurt tones down the taste significantly. Garnish with extra minced cilantro.