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Black-Eyed Peas Fives Ways for a Lucky 2023

As we turn our attention from Christmas to welcoming the new year, it seems fitting to offer yet another recipe for lucky black-eyed peas. Drumroll please… for African Black-Eyed Pea Stew!

It’s the rich peanut butter and spices that make this African style of cooking black-eyed peas so delicious—though that doesn’t mean spicy hot, at least not when I make it. I use spices sparingly so that I can make every dish mouth-watering (and often memorable) without upsetting my digestion. But suit yourself if fiery is your preference, as African chefs do love cooking with chilies. I enjoyed using collards in this dish because the collards have a particularly earthy flavor.

Eating black-eyed peas with greens has been linked with good luck for centuries because the peas were said to look like coins and the greens represented paper money. In modern times millions of people in the U.S.—especially in the South and in the Midwest—celebrate New Year’s Day with a favorite black-eyed pea dish to attract good fortune in the coming year.

Black-eyed peas are thought to have entered Southern colonies with African slaves. Although this favorite Southern dish has that tragic association, it remains popular even in African American communities today.

While planning your New Year’s Day meal, you may also want to check out these recipes:
Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Winter Squash and Collards
Curried Black-Eye Peas
Black-Eye Pea Salad
Stuffed Chard with Black-Eyed Pea Paté, page 150-51 (photo page 132) in Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.

As the year ends, let me take this moment to thank each of you for your continued enthusiasm as you follow the Sacred & Delicious Blog and comment on the Sacred & Delicious Facebook page. Your delight in cooking fresh food along with sustaining your good health are always at the forefront of my mind when I develop new recipes.

May the year ahead be filled with many joyful occasions to savor food that is both sacred and delicious!

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AFRICAN BLACK-EYED PEA STEW

Preparation time: About 1 hour
Serves 4 to 6

You can also make this in an Instant Pot, though I always prefer to caramelize an onion outside the pressure cooker while the beans and other vegetables are cooking, then add spices, to save time.

1 cup dry black-eyed peas
4 cups Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
7 or 8 large collard leaves (or 4 to 5 cups chopped kale)
1 medium or large sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
⅛ to ½ teaspoon ground paprika
1 very large or 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 cups cubed)
½ cup unsweetened smooth peanut butter
1 to 2 large cloves garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons mineral salt

Cook’s Tip: If you prefer soup to stew, just add an extra 1 or 2 cups of stock or water.

1. Soak the black-eyed peas in cold water for four hours or longer. Strain and rinse the peas and place them in a 6-quart or larger soup pot with the stock. (If you don’t have fresh stock, just use water, and add an additional ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric when you add the other ground spices in a later step.) Bring the pot to a boil on medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium (or medium-low, depending on your stove) to continue cooking at a gentle boil.

2. While the peas are cooking, clean the collard leaves (or other greens) and chop them along with the stems into bite-sized pieces.

3. Dice the onion. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat, add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until it starts turning golden. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, slowly, until the pieces of onion turn light brown and caramelize, about another 15 minutes. When the onion is caramelized, stir in the ground spices—the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and paprika. (Start with ⅛ teaspoon paprika if you like mildly flavored food and ¼ or ½ teaspoon paprika depending on your perception of “medium hot.”)

4. While the onion is cooking, peel and chop the sweet potato into ½-inch cubes. Add these to the soup pot. Check the liquid in the pot to be sure that all the vegetables are covered. You may need to add a cup of water at this point. Re-cover the pot.

5. Place the peanut butter in a bowl or 4-cup measuring cup with 1 cup water, the pressed garlic, and the grated ginger. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, and then add it to the soup pot. Check the potato cubes to ensure that they are completely tender. Then finish the stew by adding the onion/spices mix in the sauté pan along with thyme and salt, to taste. Mix well and serve.

Eat in moderation as hard beans are difficult to digest. Add 1 to 2 pinches of GF asafetida to aide digestion but limit cayenne to ¼ teaspoon at most.

Use a minimal amount of paprika or replace with black pepper. Reduce peanut butter to ⅓ cup.

Enjoy with 1 teaspoon of paprika. Reduce peanut butter to ⅓ cup.

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