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Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk, Curry Leaves and Spices

Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk, Curry Leaves and Spices

Serving black-eyed peas with collard greens is apparently good luck for the New Year. It’s a tradition in the American South and around the world. Because the beans swell with cooking, the peas are considered to represent growing prosperity in the New Year and are sometimes believed to represent coins and the collard greens paper money.

Whatever you think of that tradition, the meal I served was delicious enough for me and my dining companions and even a more nourishing dinner served up with some rice. I steamed the collard greens and sprinkled them with a bit of sea salt. It’s a snap to put together too, which is a bonus when you are tired from lack of sunshine.

The black-eyed peas are moderately spiced with a bit of tangy tomato. The addition of coconut milk reduces the heat besides but feel free to ramp up the spices if desired. Many of us indulge somewhat over the holidays, so a wholesome but fulfilling dinner is most welcome to ring in the New Year. That’s good luck enough for me because money can’t buy happiness or prosperity.

Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk, Curry Leaves and SpicesBlack-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk, Curry Leaves and Spices
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 5, 2016

A simple and delicious black-eyed pea curry simmered in a warm coconut milk and tomato gravy with smoky spices

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  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons sesame or other oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 fresh chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • plenty of fresh cracked black pepper, to taste


  • Rinse the black-eyed peas and soak for 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with fresh water. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover and simmer until the beans are tender – roughly 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  • In the same pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Toss in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and stir until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Stir in the curry leaves and spices and fry for another minute or two. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chilies, stir for another minute, and then add the tomato and simmer for another few minutes to thicken.

  • Stir in the black-eyed peas along with the coconut milk and water. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer, uncovered, until thickened to the desired consistency. Stir in the salt and black pepper and serve over piping hot fresh cooked basmati rice and steamed greens on the side.

Makes 4 servings

black-eyed peas with coconut milk

Other black-eyed pea dishes to enjoy:
Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Sambar
Black-Eyed Peas with Tamarind and Coconut Milk
Savory Black-Eyed Pea Pancakes (Poora)
Turkish Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Pomegranate, Walnuts and Dukka Dressing

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