Sunday, December 30, 2012

Black Eyed Peas for the New Year

Black-eyed peas originated in West Africa; they go back a far as Ancient Egypt. During the time of Pharaoh, they were a sign of good luck and prosperity.  This tradition continued when African slaves came to the America.   In the South, blacks and whites embraced the tradition by cooking black-eyed peas with some type of pork.  In many African American household, the tradition continues.

Growing up New Year’s dinner consisted of black-eyed peas, potato salad, collard greens, pig feet, chitterlings and rice.  As a child, I can remember walking into our build on the Eve of the Holiday and being greeted by the smell of cured pork and chitterling that permeated the entire building .

As we have all gotten older and perhaps wiser, black-eyed peas cooked with pork and the entire New Year’s Feast is a tough sell to my family.  So I have adapted this recipe for black-eyed peas from Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine.  The Berber spices, coconut milk and ginger add distinct flavor and complexity to this dish.  You will not miss the pork!

 Black-Eyed Peas


1 ½ cup black-eyed peas soaked in water for 8 hours and drained
2 tablespoons Infused Olive Oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 Scotch bonnet, Serrano or Jalapeno pepper seeded and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric peeled and chopped or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon Berbere Spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup chicken/vegetable stock
1 ½ cup light coconut milk
½ cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup sliced scallions

In a medium saucepan simmer peas in 1.5 quarts of water, uncovered for 45 minutes or until tinder but not falling apart.
Drain and set aside

Heat oil in saucepan. 
Saute onions, chili, garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric until onions are translucent.

Add Berber Spice, salt, stock and coconut milk; simmer for 40 minutes

Add tomatoes, cilantro and scallions and simmer for 5 minutes more.
May you have a Blessed and Prosperous New Year!

Infused Olive Oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, sliced
8 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ bay leaf
Heat oil in a small saucepan; do not all oil to smoke.
Add all ingredients.
Stir occasionally; allow ingredients to steep for 15 minutes

Berbere Spice
For those of you who don’t want to prepare this spice blend Kalustyans sells a Berbere Spice that is very good.  I enjoy making spice blends so I made mixture often used in Ethiopian Food.
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
¼ cup dried chilies
¼ cup dried paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½  teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Finely grind fenugreek seeds with a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder.
Combine all ingredients
Store in an airtight container until ready to use

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