Welcome to 2010! It’s a new decade as well as a new year, and perhaps because of that, more people than usual are making resolutions to eat healthier.
I tend to take some liberties around the holidays; I’m sure you’ve noticed that some of my most popular holiday desserts (like the cheesecakes) don’t live up to this blog’s title and are not oil-free. I like to indulge myself for a couple of weeks and then settle down to “regular” food.
So if you’re looking for healthy recipes to start the new year–or to start you on a vegan diet–you’ll find everything you need here: delicious recipes that contain no oil or animal products and many that contain little or no sugar, flour, or gluten. Many of my recipes are labels for certain ways of eating, such as Eat to Live or Weight Watchers points.
This year’s first recipe was inspired by a Christmas gift from my husband, Monisha Bharadwaj’s India’s Vegetarian Cooking: A Regional Guide.
It’s a gorgeous book which, though often lacking in cooking times, contains a wealth of information about the different regions and cuisines of India as well as recipes that are mostly vegan and, often, lower in fat than traditional Indian recipes. I’ve been curling up with it like a novel at night, so it was natural that I turned to it for inspiration when I needed a black-eyed pea recipe to usher in the new year.
It’s a Southern US tradition to eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day to ensure a lucky and prosperous year, and while I don’t really believe the superstition, I go with it partially out of sentimentality but mostly because I like black-eyed peas. For the past few years, I’ve been trying to reach beyond the Southern-style black-eyed pea dishes that I grew up with and look to other cultures where the Cyclopean peas are at least as popular as they are here. Last year it was Nigeria and this year it’s northern India.
This adaptation of Bharadwaj’s Bhuna Lobhia is my family’s new favorite black-eyed pea recipe. As it was keeping warm on the stove, my daughter keep creeping up to the pot to “sample” it, long after the seasoning had been checked and it didn’t need to be sampled anymore. And I have to admit, I was doing the same thing. It’s irresistibly good.
To complete my New Year’s obligations, I served this with (Green) Cabbage and Peas with Cumin and Mustard Seeds. We all feel lucky already.
Black-eyed Pea Masala
- 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
- 1 large onion , diced
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
- 1 tablespoon ginger-root , minced (or ginger paste)
- 1 tablespoon garlic , minced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne or other red pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomato
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- chopped parsley or cilantro , to garnish
- Pick over the dried peas, removing any debris, and rinse. Cover with water and allow to soak for 8 hours or quick-soak by bringing to a boil, cooking for 1 minute, and remove from heat. Allow quick-soaked peas to stand for at least 1 hour. Drain peas just before cooking.
- Heat a large non-stick pot or pressure cooker. Spray the bottom with cooking spray (omit if pot is non-stick) and add the onions. Cook, stirring, until onions soften. Add the cumin seed and cook for 1 minute. Add the asafetida, ginger, and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.
- Add the drained peas and all remaining ingredients. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a low boil.
- If pressure cooking, seal the cooker, bring to high pressure, and cook for 7 minutes; remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally. Check seasoning and add more salt and garam masala if necessary. Simmer uncovered for a few minutes to allow flavors to blend, and mash a few peas against the side of the pot to thicken the sauce. If all peas are not completely tender, cover but do not seal the cooker and simmer until peas are tender.
- If cooking in a regular pot, cover and simmer until the black-eyed peas are tender (depending on the age of your peas, 30-60 minutes). Check seasoning and add more salt and garam masala if necessary.
- Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and serve with rice or bread.
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. black peppercorns Toast lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant (be careful not to burn). Remove from heat, cool, and grind in a coffee grinder or spice mill. Use immediately or seal tightly and use soon. Makes about 1 tablespoon. **** This dish is zero points on Weight Watchers Freestyle program.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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