Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity
Balti Lobia (Black Eyed Peas)
We'll start with a pulse. Cooked legumes are one of the most important components of any meal on the Indian Subcontinent, especially among vegetarians. These foods are tasty, high in protein, and easily grown in large quantities and thus able to help feed many hungry mouths.
While the Black Eye Pea (Lobia in Hindi) originated in sub-Saharan Africa, it rapidly spread across Asia and became a staple throughout India and southeast Asia. While not as commonly used in the Subcontinent as chickpeas, gram, mung beans or pigeon peas, they do occasionally appear on tables. The almost smoky flavor and creamy texture of Black Eye Peas marries well with the aromatic, savory flavors of Balti Masala paste.
Makes 6 servings
1 pound Black Eye Peas or any Field Pea
2 tablespoons Canola oil
1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon Balti Masala Paste
Aromatic Salt to taste
Pick over dry peas, removing any stones or foreign material. Rinse and cover with cool water. Let soak at least 12 hours or over night and drain.
Bring three quarts of water to a boil in a deep pot. Add drained peas, bring back to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer peas for 45-60 minutes until tender. Drain.
Heat Canola oil until almost smoking and add chopped Onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until slightly transparent. Stir in Balti Masala paste, and fry for another minute or so. Add in cooked beans and adjust seasoning with Aromatic Salt.
Try a pungent onion like Australian Brown, Stuttgarter, or Yellow of Parma. Even though we used a yellow onion when we made the meal in the photographs, you might want to consider trying a red bulbed variety like Red Creole or Violet de Galmi to make a more colorful dish. You can also grow your own Black Eye Peas. But, any other Cowpea can be used. Baker Creek offers two dozen different kinds (one of the largest number of varieties offered by any seed company), ranging in color from white to red, yellow, brown, and black. Each will make the dish a bit different -- try the various kinds to see which you like the best.