Black-eyed peas are a Southern staple, especially on New Year's Day, when cooks combine them with rice for Hoppin' John. Eat them for good luck, if you're into that sort of thing.
These little legumes are staples in plenty of other cultures' diets, too, all year round. I love Nigerian-style stewed black-eyed peas (often served with fried plantains), the lobia masala of north India and the Caribbean black-eyed-pea fritters called accra.
Such dishes can take some time to make. But in her book, "Indian in 7," Monisha Bharadwaj shows the beauty of a much simpler approach, combining canned black-eyed peas with tomatoes, mushrooms and warming spices.
I particularly appreciate the way she treats those mushrooms. I would have been otherwise inclined to thinly slice and saute them with the super-fragrant ginger, garlic and spices before adding the tomatoes and legumes. But when you cut them into thicker pieces and briefly cook them later in the process, they stay nice and juicy.
Best of all, the dish has a depth of flavor that tastes as though it took hours, not minutes. And that is something you will welcome any day of the year.
Black-Eyed Peas With Mushrooms
- 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or other neutral vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 12 ounces button or crimini mushrooms, washed, patted dry and thickly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the whole tomatoes to a medium bowl, leaving the extra juices and liquid behind (reserve it for another use). Snip the tomatoes into bite-size pieces with kitchen scissors or crush them with your hands.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until they start to darken, about 30 seconds. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Stir in the chile powder, turmeric and garam masala, cook for a few seconds, then pour in 2 tablespoons cold water and cook until it evaporates and the oil separates, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, black-eyed peas, mushrooms and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the flavors have melded and the mixture has thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and, if you'd like, use a wooden spoon to mash some of the peas to thicken the sauce. Serve hot.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 100 calories, 4 g protein, 4 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate (5 g sugar), no cholesterol, 310 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Recipe adapted from "Indian in 7" by Monisha Bharadwaj