Aarti’s Monsoon Black Eyed Pea Curry

Dear Lemonade 25 Readers,

to celebrate the launch of my cookbook, Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul, here is another exclusive recipe.

The summer monsoon season in India is a time of both romance and trial. We were in Goa during the monsoons a couple of years ago, and I found myself intoxicated by the way the coconut groves and rice paddies turned almost neon green against the gray skies. The rains were mercurial; one minute we strolled under blue skies and hot sun, the next we ran for cover under corrugated roofs by the side of the road. During the monsoons, fish, normally a staple in coastal towns like Goa and my own, Mangalore, is hard to come by. That’s when lentils come into play, although I must say, these black-eyed peas are so good, you don’t need to wait for your own version of the monsoons to make them! These go great with white basmati rice (page 115) or hunks of crusty bread, and a simple green salad.

Aarti Paarti COVER

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (about 16)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (from about 5 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (leave this out if you don’t like things spicy)
  • ½ cup canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon tamarind concentrate, or 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • ¾ cup canned coconut milk
  • Small handful finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and soft stems (about ¼ cup)

In a large, preferably nonstick wok or pot, combine the oil, onion and a pinch of salt. Set the wok over medium heat and cook until you hear the onions sizzling. Give them a stir, and cook until deep golden brown and sweet-smelling, 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure you stir them (nearly continuously!) in the last few minutes to keep them from burning, and add a splash of water (carefully!) if they start to stick.

Add the curry leaves, garlic and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Now to add the spice mix. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and pepper. If you’re using a nonstick pan, sprinkle away. If not, then dissolve the spice mix in a little water, then add it to the pan. Either way, stir continuously for 30 seconds.

Carefully add the tomatoes (they will sputter), and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes, smashing the tomatoes with your spoon, until thickened and nearly dry.

Add the black-eyed peas, hot water, sugar and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir until well combined, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the tamarind concentrate and—my favorite part—that luxurious, creamy coconut milk. Simmer very gently, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, just to thicken it up a bit. Taste for salt and finish with the cilantro.

Excerpted from AARTI PAARTI by Aarti Sequeira.

Copyright © 2014 by Aarti Sequeira. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.