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Some Much-Needed Luck for 2021

Today I offer you a different twist on a must-have traditional dish for January 1: Curried Black-Eyed Peas. In the Southern United States, to eat black-eyed peas with greens on New Year’s Day is considered a culinary talisman to bring good luck and good fortune in the coming year. Sadly, the dish is thought to have been brought to the US from West Africa through the slave trade, but it survives today as a symbol of hoped-for fortune and abundance to come—and because it’s delicious.

Although my previous black-eyed pea recipes reflect Southern cooking, I decided to add a new twist to this celebratory dish and offer you a version that reflects traditional Ayurvedic cooking through a mélange of spices. You can decide whether the dish packs a hot punch or is simply flavorful with the artful use of spices.

Curried Black-Eyed Peas can be enjoyed as a soup or stew or—using less liquid—as a savory side dish. Try this dish with your favorite greens. Swiss chard, spinach, and kale cook in about 10 minutes. Collards are divine if you have an additional 30 to 40 minutes to let them cook until they get tender. Serve this over basmati rice for a one-dish meal, curried “hoppin’ john”!

I will venture to say that the year 2020 is one that most of us will be glad to see in our rear-view mirrors, even knowing we must remain vigilant to stay well in 2021. On the cusp of the new year, I wish you and your loved ones good luck and an abundance of grace as this next year unfolds for you.

PS  Looking for some other black-eyed pea recipes? Try this marvelous soup with winter squash or a black-eyed pea salad.



Preparation Time: About 1 hour, plus soaking time
Serves 4 to 6

If you enjoy modern Indian cooking, you will undoubtably enjoy this dish. If you avoid Indian food because it’s too spicy hot for your taste, just omit the curry powder. Then your dish will be flavorful and delicious—without the heat. See options below.

2 cups dried black-eyed peas
4 cups water
1 onion (optional)
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
2 to 4 cups Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
3 carrots
5 to 7 pieces of dried kokum or 1 small lime (optional)
6 to 8 large red kale leaves (2 to 3 cups chopped and tightly packed)
2 to 3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 large cloves garlic (optional)
5 curry leaves or 2 fresh bay leaves
1 to 3 slices of poblano pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ to 1 teaspoon curry powder


1. Many Indians prefer to avoid eating onions and garlic, so they are listed as optional ingredients.
2. If you have fresh stock available, use 4 cups if you want a soup; use 2 or 3 cups if you prefer a thicker soup or stew; use none if you want to serve the peas as a side dish.
3. If you do not have fresh stock, just use additional water, as needed.
4. If you avoid garlic, double the ginger.
5. See the Ayurvedic Note and dosha suggestions below.

1. Soak the peas overnight. When you’re ready to cook, rinse them a few times. Place them in a large soup pot, cover with 4 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium once the pot is boiling.

2. If using an onion, chop it now. Place a sauté pan on medium heat, and add the chopped onion. Once the onion turns golden, reduce the heat and cook slowly until it starts to caramelize.

3. Slice the carrots. Rinse the kokum (if available). Rinse and chop the kale. Prepare the ginger and garlic.

4. After the peas have cooked for about a half-hour, add the vegetables to the pot along with ginger, garlic, and bay leaf (if using). Also add poblano pepper slices, if using. Cover the pot and continue to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the peas and vegetables are all tender.

5. Once the soup or stew looks close to ready, add the ground spices and curry leaves (if using) to the pan of onions. Stir for about 10 seconds. Then, add the onion/spice mixture to the soup pot. Ladle some hot liquid from the soup into the pan and swirl it to maximize the amount of spices you’re able to retrieve from the pan. (If you avoid onions, prepare the spices in a small saucepan. Heat the pan with the ghee or oil. When the fat is hot but not smoking, add the spices and curry leaves (if using). Stir for 10 seconds, ladle some hot liquid into the saucepan, as above, and add the spice mixture to the soup pot. If you’re using lime instead of kokum, serve each bowl with a lime wedge. Serve over basmati rice, if you wish.

Ayurvedic Note: Avoid all chili peppers (including poblano) if you have arthritis, acid indigestion, or other inflammatory conditions.  If you want to include a sour taste, use kokum cooked in the soup or add a splash of lime when serving.

Omit curry powder or limit to ¼ teaspoon.

Omit curry powder or limit to ¼ teaspoon.

Use 1 teaspoon curry powder, and add a few slices of fresh poblano pepper, if you wish.

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