Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Black Eyed Peas and Potato Curry & Reminiscing about Home

Haven't thought about it that much, maybe just brushed the thoughts away, as we are now paying a small sum called a college tuition, and need to be grown up and thoughtful about expenditures, but I can't help but having these overwhelming home sick feelings. Yes I have now lived in the United States for more than half my life but my first cousin's wedding in February and another cousin's in June, on top of a nephew's bar mitzvah this coming December makes me itchy to go home.
Granted my home is where J and S are, always! Going back to Israel, I laugh, although my entire family lives in Israel and I miss the belly ache laughs only I can have with my sister, but when I land and rent a car, and start driving out of the airport terminal, despite the changing landscape, I am mightily elated when I get the first sighting of sand. Sand dunes of my childhood. I am happy then! Silly me I say. It is very pretty where we live here in the States, very green with many trees. Owls hooting right outside our window, woodpeckers, humming birds, turkey buzzards, hawks, red tailed fox and deer. A neighborhood legend has it coyotes migrated here in recent years. I think I dreamt about them, that was my only sighting. A little brick home and nice surroundings, that is our sweet home.
I haven't been back to Israel since my father passed away four years ago. I was quite sad and in a state of shock, it has been a mourning process. As I am cooking all things Indian recently, the joys and pleasures and memories that the aromas and spices reawaken in me, make me desire and want to experience home yet again, and document every fold and twist of my mom's hands in Indian cooking. Re-explore the constant, old favorites, legendary landmarks such as the renowned Abulafia bakery in Old Jaffa, best to show up for a midnight snack, Arab bagels with sesame and zaatar on the side from the old city in Jerusalem and the ever changing culinary fusion of this melting pot landscape. I am amazed in such a small place, the size of New Jersey, how I can never get enough! I never feel I have exhausted the possibilities of discovery.
Revisit the Galilee with centuries old intertwined exposed husky roots olive trees and Judean desert hills overlooking the Dead Sea. A part of the Syrian African rift I believe, and I am talking geology:). Along the way visit a small boutique winery or cheese makers. Which reminds me how I miss the yogurts even straight from the supermarket. Revisit the mom and pop spice show in town where I grew up. The curry spice that I use in the recipe below, was formulated by my uncle to the tastes and dishes of the Bombay Indian Jews. He sourced locally grown chillies, dried them and made his own curry mixtures, like concocting potions. I am running low so maybe an excuse?! This week I simply miss home.

While black eyed peas are a staple of Southern cooking here in the States, they were growing up my favorite bean in Indian cuisine. We called black eyed pea ChawLee. Scroll down you will find more information on black eyed peas here.

Black Eyes Peas Curry

Ingredients:
1 Cup dry black eyed peas
1 Large onion
1-2 Jalapenos
1 Large tomato
1/3 of small bunch of cilantro
4-6 Cloves garlic
2 Large Russet potatoes, peeled and medium cubed
4 Tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoons curry powder (according to taste)
Salt to taste
Water to cover
Garnish:
Chopped cilantro
Condiment:
Feature in photo Mango Chutney here.

Directions:
1. Add onions to food processor, whiz until paste consistency achieved and add to canola and saute on low/medium heat until onion are soft and golden.
2. Add tomatoes to food processor whiz until tomato sauce consistency is reached and add to golden onions cook for few minutes longer until tomatoes are cooked through.
3. Add cilantro, jalapeno and garlic to food processor, whiz until a paste consistency is reached. Scrape from sides of food processor and whiz a bit longer then add to onion tomato mixture and cook for few minutes.
4. Add to curry powder and salt, stir quickly and add black eyed peas and potatoes. Cover with water, stir and cover with a lid. Let cook on low/medium heat for about an hour without stirring any further. Add water if necessary and cook until potatoes and black eyed peas are fork tender. Garnish with cilantro and serve with plain basmati rice and mango chutney

Important note: During cooking period stir only once after covering the potatoes and black eyed peas with water. Give the pot a bit of a shake or a nudge once or twice during the cooking period to make sure the beans and potatoes do not stick to the bottom. Check for water and add as necessary as the black eyed peas soak up the water. Absolutely unnecessary to soak the black eyed peas overnight, in case you were wondering.

27 comments :

  1. Shulie, thanks for sharing memories about your childhood with us. We never seem to forget the place where we grew up despite the passing years. I miss having a good curry. I wish I had this one for dinner.

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  2. I've yet to cook with black eyed peas, but you have made a really lovely dish here that I'm dying to try. Great post, Shulie!

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  3. I love your childhood stories and to hear about the place you grew up. It makes me feel homesick as well. Lovely recipe and always gorgeous photos.

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  4. What a lovely road trip through your memories. I love the idea of you belly laughing with your sister! Thanks for the important tip about not soaking the peas overnight. Remembering to soak is one of the reasons I can't get it together to make beans.

    So.... what are you going to make for Pesach? I'm starting to think of a menu and I'd love some of your ideas!

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  5. oh my dear sweet Shulie girl - how i love this post you have written . . . and now i wish to travel to Israel with you and experience your country through your eyes . . . at the very least, i'd love to cook with you in your own kitchen there in DC . . . you make me ache to explore this cuisine of yours. thank you friend, for this wonderful post, beautiful photos and luscious food!

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  6. Thank you Nisrine. In this curry you can decide whether you want it drier or saucy:). Either way it's flavor packed!
    OMG Brian, it is one of my favorite beans!! The consistency, flavor different from other beans and legumes. Thanks for dropping by as always!
    Thank you Margaret. Jonathan said the same and he grew up here in the States. lol. I hope you go home soon!
    Thank you Lael. Yes, my sister is gifted in many ways, evoking laughter is one way:). Certain dry beans like chickpeas you got to soak overnight. Of course lentils, especially the red one cook so quickly without any soaking, but the one bean that does not need any soaking overnight is the black eyed pea which is a beauty, isn't it? Passover menu? Always lamb but we can talk on twitter FB as time approaches. First I want to post something for Purim.
    Thank you Debra, I can't wait to go home and re-explore. It's been too long! Would love to cook together and maybe I can arrange a twitteries trip to Israel, Ken wants to go too:).

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  7. Shulie...what a beautiful descriptive journal of what we can all relate to. I haven't lived in my hometown for more years than I lived there yet occasionally those feelings that are associated with family and food color so much of me still today.

    I associate black eyed peas with one dish only; soup for New Years Day. It's evident that I need to look beyond that. Please join me for my food blogger convention. My home, jammies, my backyard...that's what I long for; nothing fancy, just meeting and sharing and gabbing with some of the many wonderful people I've met on Twitter...which most certainly includes YOU!

    Beautiful, beautiful photos.

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  8. Shulie, I can sign your post, with only a name of the country changed. I haven't been to Serbia in three years, and I miss my mother so much:(
    You see your sand dunes, I look forward to catching the first glimpse of the River Morava as the car approaches the bridge coming form the airport. Nothing smells like my street on a warm sunny afternoon in June.
    I miss my family and my friends, but I know that whenever I go back there, I am really returning home to the people I love, who love me. Having two homes is a blessing that few of us get to experience.
    I tried to cook black-eyed peas only once, using my husband's mother's recipe, and I did not like it. And I like beans! I have to try your recipe, because I cannot stand the idea that there is a bean out there that does not visit our table:)
    Thank you for your words! I hope you get to go to Israel soon:)

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  9. I know exactly what you mean. I spent the first half of my life living outside India but we used to visit once every 2 years. And we looked forward to each vacation like we were going to heaven or something, just the thought of going back to familiar sights, colours, smells and family was something else.
    Maybe its time to start planning for a trip back home? :)

    I've cooked potatoes with chickpeas somewhat like this but never with beans.

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  10. What a wonderful post, I could almost imagine myself traveling with you and seeing everything as you described it. It sounds like an amazing place. I feel the same way when I go back to France to visit my family, it seems like my second home too, the moment the plane lands there's this sense of familiarity.

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  11. Shulie, this is such a beautiful post about your home, your family, and, of course, the food.

    I've never been to Israel, but I have a sudden craving to go, but, I want you to be my tour guide.

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  12. Shulie, thanks for taking us for a little glimpse of Israel! Someday soon I'll go there when J3 doesn't tire so easily and can take longer walks.

    You are so right! I am going to love this and just in time for Ash Wednesday.

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  13. Thank you all for your heartfelt comments. I know whether it's Israel or some other place you call home, my missing, reverberate and spoke to you. I would like nothing more then to take you on a tour of the places dear to me and the food, the food is amazing!

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  14. Shulie!! What can i say! This is awesome post about you, your family and of course black eyed peas. I love them and i almost never use potatoes in my curry, i'm definitely giving it a try the next time i make it. :)

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  15. Shulie- thank you for sharing a taste of your memories. I long for Abulafia, pita with zaatar, sahleb in the winter, the shouks- all tastes of Israel. But with you reminiscing about home, at least I had a chance to enjoy it for a moment through your eyes. I look forward to enjoying this dish at home. And hope that you can visit Eretz Hakodesh soon.

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  16. I can't wait for you to visit Israel again either! You will come back with more stories and gems from your Mom! Chawli was one of my least favorite beans when I was little. But I love it now! I like how you blitz everything in your food processor - less fine chopping and quicker cooking. Would you cook this in a pressure cooker?

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  17. Hi Shulie, My first post here, although I follow you on twitter. Looking forward to trying this as I'm always hearing good things about black-eyed peas and wow, no soaking necessary! Would it be ok to simply mince the onion?

    Thanks for sharing. Love Abualafia, of course, for midnight snack or breakfast before the flea market. When orange trees bloom here in Los Angeles around Passover -- that's when I get nostalgic.

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  18. Hi An, Yes often I leave the potatoes out and make beans by themselves. The russet really melts in consistency and I felt like adding them this time. Sometimes I make it like Chole, skip the cilantro and garlic.
    Thanks Orly and Jean in between the three of us we could have written a guide to Israel. I can see how orange blossoms can make you nostalgic Jean. Yeah you can simply mince the onions instead of the food processor, same with other ingredients.
    Manisha, I do it both ways sometimes fine chopping sometimes through the food processor:). You won't believe it but I have never used a pressure cooker and have sort of a phobia about it and am suspicious/afraid of it. I know funny! I don't by how much will it cut the cooking time?! I often forget to soak beans like Lael so am happy to have legumes and black eyes peas for same day cooking.

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  19. Now I have to plan a trip w you to Israel. Promise me you'll be my guide to your 'home'. In the meantime, I'll make this to get me started.

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  20. Beautiful post Shulie! I am just dying to go to Israel, too- I've never been and would love to experience it with my children. I do hope you get to go back home, soon- it must be hard that it's been so long.

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  21. Thanks to Twitter that I found this lovely blog. How fresh and full of life! Love the recipes I have browsed, come back for more soon.

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  22. I can so relate to what you've written. Being away from "home" where the parents, siblings and family is, is always a hard thing. Memories keeps us going and yes when I get together with my mother, brother and dad we too have belly aches of laughter! I love Black Eyed peas and my mum used to make the most delicious curry with them. This one however looks wonderfully tempting!

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  23. Thank you Wabbit, Winnie yes a trip to Israel is due with all my tweeps:) Alison, it's the nicest thing to say, thank you! Sanjeeta, so happy I am also following. Nce meeting you & thanks you! Thanks Meeta, there are so many variation even on this one, sometimes I make it like chole w/o potatoes though.:) Thx for dropping by you all!!

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  24. Shulie, does your Mom use a pressure cooker? If she does, have her show you how she does it so that your fears are eased. Or if you have a friend who lives nearby with whom you can cook together. These beans would take under 20 mins in a pressure cooker.

    I am particularly bad at soaking beans and dal, too. But there's more reason to pre-soak than to get them to cook faster. It has to do with how the seeds protect themselves until they need to germinate. Those chemicals need to be released and discarded for better absorption of nutrients and that's what soaking achieves. I've started doing hot soaks, followed by rinsing and changing of water in the hope that a hot soak helps as much as a long soak!

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  25. Thanks Manisha, I wish you were on twitter right now so we can talk about all things beans. I am having a one way conversation there right now. :) I am scared the heck out of pressure cooker, my mom never used it. I recently warm/hot soaked but only so I can peel off garbanzo bean skin, much rather do the cold one though for multiple reasons. Have you read the Rhulman article recently about beans, I found it curious. We also soak with baking soda again for few reasons. I wish we could have had this conversation over coffee:).

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  26. One day, we will have coffee together!

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