This recipe was a fortuitous accident. I soaked some beans with the intention of just cooking them with a ham hock or bacon or salt pork: whatever was in the freezer. After they had soaked overnight, I realized my freezer was entirely pork-free. (I really have no idea how that happened, but I’ll do my best to keep it from happening again.) Anyway, I was left with already soaked beans and nothing to do with them.
I didn’t want to cook just plain beans, so I started flipping through recipe books and blogs trying to find something interesting that didn’t require me to go to the store. I happened across a recipe for a pureed lentil soup with garam masala and coconut milk and thought that was as good a place to start as any. I can’t say I used that recipe for much more than inspiration, but it was the spark I needed.
I used the pre-mixed garam masala from the Spice House and tweaked it a bit with added green and black cardamom, cassia buds and stick cinnamon. Garam masala is one of those things that everyone likes just a bit differently, so don’t be afraid to add more of whichever spices you like best. This blend is a bit heavier on the pepper, but it uses Tellicherry pepper, which gives a nice floral topnote along with the spicy pepper flavor.
The garam masala I used here has enough pepper to give the dish a bit of heat. If you use a less peppery garam masala, you could add some chilies.
If the final product needs more depth of flavor, add a teaspoon or so of dark brown sugar to give it a little boost. (I added a bit to mine at the end, but not all coconut milk is created equal, so yours might provide enough sweetness on its own.
As is often the case with beans, this is better the second day. If you’re planning to cook it ahead, leave the sweet potatoes just a bit undercooked so they don’t fall apart.
1 lb black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked overnight
4 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 Tbsp freshly ground garam masala
6 cloves garlic, minced
1″ piece ginger, minced
2 14 oz cans (unsweetened) coconut milk
1 14 oz can water
1 Tbsp salt
1 lb sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4″ coins
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high. Add the garam masala and toast for about a minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the drained beans, coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. At this point the beans should be somewhat soft, but still just a bit crunchy; they should be almost cooked. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer an additional 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are just starting to be tender, but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
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