The First day of Spring, a new beginning ,a fresh start in life…..it almost feels like I had hibernated for the Winter, everything had slowed down during the dark cold months, come LIGHT a new energy infuses my very cells,feeling energized to try new recipes. Spring is a season when little buds are sprouting on tree branches, birds are returning home, the sun is shining brightly chasing what is left of the winter cold, when a sense of joy fills the air.
Black Eyed Peas/Cow peas is also called “Lobia” in the state of Punjab, in Northern India and I learnt this recipe,from a North Indian friend hailing from that state.It is what she calls their comfort food and soon enough I found it was the truth.Having this “Lobia” Masala or Curry with flat breads or rice, gives you a sense of fulfillment and peace,perhaps why you see a lot of gregarious, joyful people hailing from that Northern state, whose energy is evident in the bright colors and the traditional dance they perform to celebrate the harvest of the land.These healthy legumes, can be sprouted overnight are a rich source of proteins (13.22g),containing calcium (41 mg) folate (356 mg), protein , fiber (11.1 g) and Vitamin- A (26 IU), among other nutrients, all for less than 200 Calories, in a 171-g, one-cup serving.
The first day of Spring (The Vernal Equinox) is a day of balance with equal hours in the day and night, and so it is with food that we eat, a balanced healthy diet, would be the way to start this season with the right footing me thought and went on to prepare this North Indian dish.In the southern states of the U.S, cowpeas or black- eyed beans is still considered soul food and is associated with good luck .An American hip hop band is named after it,and it certainly has its place in the Culinary chart of the globe being initially domesticated in West Africa, consumed widely in Egypt, Vietnam, Greece, Turkey etc.
This dish called the “Lobia” Masala is a typical North Indian dish from Punjab, which satiates the mind and body of the consumer, hence also known as the comfort food among the Punjabi’s (people from Punjab) unlike in the South of India it is called “Thatta Payiru” which is cooked in a tamarind sauce and coconut gratings, the North Indian version does not use either of these, yet the dish turns out to be finger-licking good !
2 cup lobia/black eyed beans/cow peas
- ½ inch piece ginger finely chopped
- 2 to 3 medium garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 5 or 6 green chilies, chopped
- ½ tsp cumin seeds/jeera
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 5 cups of water
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 to 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves ( I ran out of it, hence skipped it )
- salt as required
- Soak the “Lobia”/Black Eyed Peas/Cowpeas overnight or for a few hours. drain and rinse the “Lobia” with water. again drain and keep aside.
- In a pressure cooker heat oil.
- Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle in the warm oil.
- Then add the chopped onions.
- Stir and saute till the onions become translucent.
- Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies. saute till the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic goes away.
- Then add the chopped tomatoes and stir.
- Next add the all the dry spices – turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala.
- Stir and saute the masala on a low flame, till the tomatoes become soft and the entire tomato-onion mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan or cooker (this cooking method is called as “bhunao” in punjabi and takes some time)
- Now add the Lobia or black eyed beans. stir well.
- Then add 5 cups water and add salt to taste.
- Stir the “Lobia” and keep covered in the pressure cooker until 3-4 whistles.Soaking it overnight or for 2-3 hours, will take less time to cook. The “lobia” should be soft to touch and can be easily pressed with one’s fingers or get mashed easily, to check if its cooked well.
- Once the Lobia beans are cooked, simmer the gravy without the lid so that it gets thickened.
- You can also mash a few cooked beans to thicken the gravy.
- The consistency of the Lobia masala gravy is neither thin nor thick.
- Lastly add 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and give a final stir. You could also garnish Lobia masala with chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve Punjabi Lobia Masala with rotis /Flat breads or steamed rice.