This Black Eyed Peas Curry is a hearty, comforting and nutritious dish of soft cooked cowpeas in a flavorsome gravy. Serve it over steamed rice, quinoa, steel cut oats or millets. Black eyed peas curry also goes well with any flatbreads like Naan, Chapati, Paratha or even with artisan breads.
Dried black eyed peas are soaked overnight and precooked until tender. Later simmered in a curry base made with onions, tomatoes, potatoes, spices and herbs to make a super delicious dish that you will love. For a quicker dish, you can opt to used canned black eyed peas.
About Black Eyed Peas
Black eyed peas aka cowpeas originated in West Africa and had been cultivated in India and China from the times immemorial. They travelled to America along with the Africans & became a popular legume. You will find various legends on how the Southern Americans began to cook them as a part of New Year meals to bring good luck. (source – Wikipedia)
It is surprising that these black eyed peas are cooked all over the world in so many different ways. Hoppin’ John, akara and moin moin are some of the popular dishes made with Black eyed peas. Apart from that, they are also used to make fritters, salads, soups, stews and curry.
This curry is one of the several ways to cook with black eyed peas in Indian Cuisine. They are known by different names rongi, lobia, chawli, alasandalu, karamani etc. I am sure you will love these soft, mouth-melting and creamy beans with a burst of flavors.
In this post I share my Mom’s recipe which is easy to make and needs only pantry staples. I love to work with dried beans so I have shown the same in this post from scratch. However if you do not prefer that you can simply use canned beans.
I don’t know why but we always love potatoes in this curry. Diced potatoes soak up all the flavors and taste delicious. However you may skip them to save 10 mins of the cook time or use meat of choice if you want.
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How to make Black Eyed Peas Curry (Stepwise Photos)
1. Rinse 1 cup black eyed peas at least thrice and soak them in 4 cups water for at least 4 to 8 hours. I prefer soaking them overnight. Do not cover the bowl completely when you soak. Cover it with a cloth or a mesh basket so air circulates. The next morning rinse them well.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, you may cook in a pot, following my Pro tips section below.
2. Add them to a bowl and pour 1 cup water. I do not add salt to my beans while cooking, if you want you may add. Pressure cook for 2 to 3 whistles on a medium heat. If using instant pot, pressure for 8 mins. If you soak them for fewer hours (less than 8 hours), increase the cook time. 2 to 3 whistles and 8 mins of IP time is for overnight soaked beans. The cooked beans should be soft, yet hold shape and when you squeeze, it should be get mashed easily.
3. While your beans cook, chop and prepare:
- 1 cup fine chopped onions (1 large)
- 1½ cup chopped tomatoes or 1¼ cup fresh pureed sweet tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic (grated/ paste/ crushed, half tbsp each)
4. You will need the following spices (whole spices are optional):
- ¾ to 1½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (adjust to taste, I use 1½)
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon garam masala (or meat masala, adjust to taste)
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon coriander powder (adjust to taste)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin powder (adjust to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 bay leaf (or 1 sprig curry leaves)
- 1 inch cinnamon piece ( optional)
I also prefer to use half teaspoon fennel seeds powder.
5. Peel and dice potato to 1.5 inch cubes and keep them immersed in water until used. You may skip the potatoes in the recipe and save 10 minutes cook time.
Make the curry
6. Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons oil to a hot pan. Add cinnamon and a bay leaf.
7. Add the onions and begin to saute them on a medium high heat until golden.
8. After 6 to 7 mins, stir in the ginger garlic and sauce for a minute.
9. Lower the heat. Stir in all the ground spices and salt.
10. Pour the tomatoes puree or chopped tomatoes. (If using canned tomatoes or passata, add it later after cooking the potatoes.)
11. Mix and cook on a medium high heat until the raw tomato flavor is gone.
12. Add the potatoes along with 1 cup hot water. Mix well. Bring it to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender.
13. Don’t overcook the potatoes, they should be almost cooked yet firm.
14. Add the cooked black eyed peas along with the stock (beans cooked water). (If using canned beans, add them to a colander, rinse thoroughly under running water. Make sure they are tender yet hold shape.)
15. Pour 1 cup additional water and give a stir. If using canned peas, you will need more water. Bring this to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 7 to 10 mins until the cowpeas are flavorful. The peas should not get mushy at this stage.
16. When it is done, take a few tablespoons of the black eyed peas and mash well to smooth. Stir that back into the curry, so it thickens.
17. Taste test and add more salt or garam masala if you want. Add chopped coriander leaves.
Serve black eyed peas over rice, quinoa, millets or steel cut oats. Roti, chapati, naan, paratha and artisan breads also go well.
Cook beans in Pot: Soak the dried black eyed peas overnight with 4 cups water and half teaspoon baking soda. Rinse them well later and bring 3 cups water to a rolling boil and add the beans. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender for about 1 hour or more. They should be soft yet hold shape.
Soaking: Black eyed peas actually do not need a long soak. They are ready to cook after 3 to 4 hours but for convenience I prefer to soak them overnight. The pressure cook time will be slightly longer if you soak them for fewer hours (less than overnight).
Instant Soak: If you forgot to soak them and want to cook instantly, bring 3 cups water to a rolling boil and add the black eyed peas. Cover and rest them for an hour. Pressure cook for longer than mentioned in the recipe.
Meat Masala: My Mom always used a stronger masala for this recipe. I however do not have that spice blend so I prefer to use this biryani masala in combination with garam masala. The recipe works with a good garam masala or a meat masala. You just need to adjust the quantity.
Preparation (Skip to use canned beans)
How to make Black Eyed Peas Curry
While the beans cooks, chop onions, grate ginger garlic and puree tomatoes. Peel and dice the potatoes if using.
Pour oil to a pan and heat it. Add bay leaf and cinnamon if using.
When they begin to sizzle, add the onions and stir fry on a medium high heat for 6 to 7 minutes, until golden.
Add the ginger garlic and saute for a minute. Reduce the heat and stir in salt along with all the ground spices – red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin and turmeric.
Immediately pour the tomato puree (read notes). Cook for a few minutes until the raw flavor of tomatoes is gone & the onion tomato masala turns thick. This step takes 3 to 4 minutes.
Optional – Add the potatoes along with 1 cup hot water. Stir well & bring to a boil on a high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender yet firm and not mushy.
Transfer the black eyed peas (precooked or canned) along with the stock (beans cooked water). (If using canned beans, drain the liquid off and rinse them well under running water before adding to the curry).
Pour 1 cup or more hot water (as required) and bring this to a rolling boil on a high heat. Reduce and cook covered on a medium heat for 7 to 10 mins, until the curry is thick and the beans are flavorful.
Take a few tablespoons of black eyed peas & mash them well to smooth with another spoon. Stir that back to the curry to thicken it further. Taste test and add more salt or garam masala for more flavor.
Turn off and garnish black eyed peas curry with chopped coriander leaves. Serve it over steamed rice, quinoa, steel cut oats or millets. It also goes well with naan, roti, chapati or artisan breads.
- Potatoes: Using potatoes is optional. You can also replace that with meat of choice. Add more ground spices to taste depending on the kind of meat you use.
- Tomatoes: Use sweet tomatoes. If using passata or sour tomatoes or canned tomatoes, add it after cooking the potatoes. Passata or any canned tomatoes will hinder the potatoes from cooking faster.
- Black Eyed Peas: Make sure the black eyed peas are soft, tender yet not mushy before adding to the curry. If your canned beans are too firm, cook them for a while in plain water until tender.
- You can opt to use boiled or parboiled potatoes but note that they won’t soak up the flavors as much as cooking them in the curry. Add them along with the cooked beans.
- If using canned beans, use more water to cook the curry.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Black Eyed Peas Curry Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 0.03g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Vitamin A 951IU19%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.