Saturday, January 24, 2009

Recipe for Indian Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Tomato and Curry Leaves

Indian-Spiced Black-Eyed PeasI never could find the herb called curry leaves in Utah, so I was thrilled when BlogHer editor Snighda Sen brought some for me to the BlogHer Conference in San Francisco last summer. Then on the last day of BlogHer I got the news about Sher, and didn't feel much like cooking when I got home. Into the freezer went the curry leaves, where I forgot about them until a few weeks ago when I read that curry leaves can be frozen, and I finally tried cooking with them.

The first time I used them I didn't take photos, but I liked them so much I decided I had to make something for Weekend Herb Blogging using curry leaves. I found this recipe for Curried Black-Eyed Peas at Lisa's Kitchen, and it sounded intriguing. I'm pretty much a novice at Indian cooking, so I may have done some things in my interpretation of the recipe which aren't really authentic! But even if my version isn't authentically Indian, I loved the flavor of this spicy side dish with black-eyed peas, tomatoes, and delicious curry leaves.

The recipe called for cooking mustard seeds in hot oil until they pop, and then adding a mixture of spices all at once, so I measured the spices into this little bowl before I started that part of the recipe.

One thing I did that may not be authentic is to chop the curry leaves a little before adding them to the dish at the end, because the first time I used them the pieces seemed kind of big. Indian cooks, is there a reason they shouldn't be chopped?

Here's how the black-eyed peas looked on the stove when they were finished, a colorful and delicious dish! I'm guessing this would also be delicious even if you can't find curry leaves, but they were certainly a flavorful addition.

Indian Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Tomato and Curry Leaves
(Makes about 6 side dish servings, recipe adapted from Curried Black-Eyed Peas from Lisa's Kitchen.)

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 T olive oil or ghee (use olive oil for South Beach diet)
1 tsp. brown or black mustard seeds
2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
(recipe called for 1/2 tsp. asafetida which I didn't have)
1 cup slow roasted tomatoes (or use 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes or 1 cup chopped fresh tomato)
2 T tomato paste
1 tsp. green Tabasco sauce, or more (or use use fresh chopped green chile pepper)
handful of fresh curry leaves (I used about 1/2 cup curry leaves, slightly chopped, but I would use even more if I had plenty of them)
2-3 T thinly sliced green onion or chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

Cook the black-eyed peas, using one of these methods (I used the pressure cooker):
~To cook black-eyed peas in pressure cooker, no need to pre-soak. Put the peas in pressure cooker and fill about half full with water. Lock lid, and cook 10-11 minutes at high pressure, then use quick-release method to release pressure. Drain and continue with recipe.
~To cook black-eyed peas in regular pan, first soak overnight in cold water to cover. The next day, drain water and put black-eyed peas in saucepan with water to cover by a few inches. Simmer over low heat until tender, about 40-45 minutes. Drain and continue with recipe.

Combine sea salt, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, and asafetida (if using) in small dish. Heat olive oil or ghee in large non-stick frying pan. When oil is shimmering hot, add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop, which will happen very quickly. When seeds start to pop, add ground spice/salt mixture and cook about 1 minute.

Add slow roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, green Tabasco sauce, and curry leaves, then lower heat, stir and cook 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly thickened and mixture is fragrant. (You will need to cook longer if you use canned or fresh tomatoes.) Stir in black-eyed peas and simmer about 10 minutes, until peas are hot and mixture is slightly thickened. Serve hot, sprinkled with sliced green onions or chopped cilantro if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Black-eyed peas are a great low-glycemic food, making this a great side dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet. For phase one, serve with something like Curried Chicken on the Grill with Cilantro Chutney and Spicy Mexican Slaw. For phase two or three, the black-eyed peas could be served as a vegetarian main dish over Uncle Ben's Rice.

More Dishes With Black-Eyed Peas or Curry Leaves:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Chipotle and Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Double Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen
Hopping John Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Mulligitawny Soup with Curry Leaves from The Perfect Pantry
Butter Prawn with Curry Leaves from Rasa Malaysia
Lotus Root Curry from The Well-Seasoned Cook
Spiced Curry Leaves Rice from Sailu's Food
(Want even more recipes with curry leaves? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

This is my first posted recipe with Curry Leaves, a unique ingredient used in South Indian cooking (which has nothing to do with the blend of spices called curry powder.) Since Curry Leaves are such an interesting herb, I'm submitting this to for Weekend Herb Blogging, now managed by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, and hosted this week by Chris from Mele Cotte. If you're cooking with herbs this weekend, it's not too late to send an entry, so here's more information about how to participate.
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. This looks delicious. Novice? I think not! ;) I have never see curry leaves. Honestly, I don't think I have every thought about where curry came from...I love when I learn something new.

    Thanks for including this in another great week of WHB!

  2. Hi Kalyn, That's a wonderful recipe you have there and the only non-authentic thing I found was the addition of tabasco sauce :)

    Curry leaves are not chopped and though I may be wrong, the reason could be that its just too much trouble to do that and we can get the same results by adding them whole or roughly tearing them with your hands before adding them on (which is what my mother in law does).

    Adding asafoetida brings out a different flavour in dishes so do try it if you can. Let me know if you'd like me to send you some :)

  3. Chris, thanks. The curry leaves have a wonderful flavor.

    Nags, you're so sweet. I'll try to find asafetida in Salt Lake, and if I can't find it I'll definitely take you up on that!

  4. I am so glad you liked the flavor. I wish I could mail you more. Curry leaves are more commonly used in south Indian dishes. North and east India use more of cilantro and dried bay leaves (tej patta).Since I'm part south India and married to one, now curry leaves are a regular ingredient :)
    I am so trying out your recipe. I have just soaked some black-eyed beans. What timing!

  5. Thats a wonderful looking dish you have out there, Kalyn. :)

    Curry leaves add immense flavor to any dish and are usually added whole. Basically curry leaves are added to seasoning/tempering of a dish along with spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida. Having said that, I don't think there is any hard and fast rule that says curry leaves cannot be crushed, torn or chopped.

    Many a time, I roughly tear or crush them to release the essential oils/aroma and add them to the tempering of dals or curries.

  6. This dish looks tasty. I have still never used curry leaves, but can't wait to try. It has been awhile since I have made anything indian. Your black-eyed peas are sure tempting!

  7. I have been on the lookout for curry leaves as well! I love Indian flavors and it looks like you've put together a great combination here.

  8. That dish not look like it came from a novice. Looks really good.

    There is no fast rule against tearing curry leaves, I usually add them whole but have noticed tearing them on cutting brings the flavors out better. Usually we pick apart the curry leaves while eating but it is high iron and eating them makes your hair grow well :)

  9. So happy to hear from my friends who are great Indian cooks that tearing or cutting the curry leaves is okay! And if anyone reading this knows where to get them in Utah, I'd love to know!

  10. Curry Leaf plants can be mail-ordered from Logee's Greenhouse at

    They come in 2.5 inch pots and sell for $11.95 plus shipping. They seem very easy to grow. I have had mine several months and I still need to repot it. It seems almost indestructible!!! They are hardy to zone 9 and can get to be 1 to 3 feet tall. I live in a condominium in the Seattle area and have mine on a shelf in a room with a south-facing window and it is doing just fine. I may transfer it outside to a deck (we are zone 7) for the warmer months. They can be found under the name "Murraya koenigli. I haven't cooked with it yet and am really excited to try this recipe. THANKS!

  11. Lynne, thanks to you! I'm going to go order one right now. My new office will have a lot of south facing windows so I've been thinking that I may be able to grow more herbs inside now. And if you have your own plant, use a lot of curry leaves in this recipe; I think more would only improve it!

  12. Lynne, now that I've read the info on the site, I think I will wait 1-2 months because it's very cold here now and it might sit on my porch all day before I get home from work. Plus, with the back of my house torn off, I don't have any south facing windows at all right now (except in the bathroom, and that doesn't seem like a good place for it!) But in a few months I'll definitely be ordering one.

  13. I've only had curry leaves in my pantry once (thanks to another blogger who sent them to me), and would love to give them another try with a recipe like this one. They are impossible to find fresh here, but are available frozen in my local Asian markets.

  14. Here is the link for where you can order the curry leaves plant that Lynne talked about.

  15. What a gorgeous looking dish! Seriously - that photo is 100% edible :) Glad you were able to try those out. I haven't had curry leaves either.

  16. Love curry leaves. Available but very expensive in CA. Cheap in Asia. They blend so well with butter! And I use it with curry chickpeas :)

  17. Lydia, now that I know the frozen ones are okay, I'll have to look in freezer in my Asian market here, at least until I get my plant!

    Kristen, thanks. Really like the flavor, hard to describe but delicious!

    Tigerfish, will look for them when I visit my brother in LA for sure! Sounds great with chickpeas.

  18. Curry leaves are the perfect spice. i do not find them here so i ususally bring them back form dubai and freeze them too. although i have to admit that it looses some of the flavor when frozen.

    i asked my mum if curry leaves can be chopped, crushed etc. and she said that there is nothing against it! as a matter of fact she recommends roughly chopping or crushing to release the oils. this is especially recommended if like you and me - for frozen leaves.

    i really like the sound of this dish. i am a huge beans/legumes fan and enjoy any dish with beans!

  19. PS. I love seeing Indian cooking here. I know once you said you found it a bit daunting because of all the ingredients.

  20. Meeta, I'm working on getting over my fear of Indian cooking, so nice to know that your mom has approved of chopping the curry leaves! This dish is definitely a repeater for me, and I'm going to look for the asaofetida too.

  21. HI Kalyn:

    That looks like something that my mother would whip up!

  22. This one is so colorful! I love the bright colors!

  23. I love curry leaves in any form! There's a recipe out there for butter oatmeal prawns that you should try out. Also, someone else has one for curry leaves and corn flakes. That's right, corn flakes.

    Happy cooking!

  24. Hi Ya
    This is my first time here. U have a lovely blog. I am sure that I will be visiting you often.

    Curry leaves are the typical Indian herb during cooking. Any dish will have it n it emanates a lovely aroma which fills the kitchen air.Its easier to use them as complete leaves n I dont think we chop it to tiny pieces. Jus pop in the whole leaves in any curry n it leaves the dish with a beautiful aroma.

  25. Thank you sending this to me.Truly a well though out dish.

    Curry leaves like basil are usually not chopped just because they bruise easily. They are better just roughly torn into pieces using your hands and directly added into the food without bleeding out on cutting boards.

    Some traditional southern Indian dishes call for whole curry leaves but otherwise it really doesn't matter if whole or in pieces.

  26. Supriya, thanks for the tips about curry leaves. Now that I'm going to be retired, I'm going to spend more time looking for them in Salt Lake.

  27. This is a great dish,usually the blackeye peas are a North Indian dish and traditionally curry leaves are used in South Indian dishes as is coconut powder. However this is a great melding of flavors. I will try it this weekend. I found a few Indian grocery stores listed in Salt Lake City you will find all the ingredients you need at any one of these stores. This goes very nicely with Brown rice as well if you leave a little gravy in the dish.

    Looking for more from you.

  28. Kalyn the reason one does not chop curry leaves is because if you dont chew it properly you can have indigestion. Curry leave is just for flavouring like bay leaves.

  29. Loved this! I couldn't find curry leaves so I just used some curry powder...and didn't have the tabasco so I just left it out. The flavor was great!

  30. Michele, glad you liked it. The curry leaves are definitely hard to find!

  31. Kalyn
    Love your blog and often cook from it espcially the bean soups. I just learned that chopping up the curry leaves isn't a bad thing at all as if you do somehow get to eat them they have a high nutrition value. When ading the leaves whole most people will tend to discard them on the side of the plate. So do try and getting to chew on some of the curry leaves. I will do some more research on curry leaves and post another comment here.

  32. Ria, very interesting. I didn't know that. And I need to make a trip to the Indian market to get some curry leaves!


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