Black-Eyed Pea Masala With Kale
“Black-eyed peas are commonly used across India and go by the names lobia, longi, alasande kalu, and chawli, among others. In Maharashtra, they’re made into usal using fresh coconut and fennel seeds. In the Southern part of India, they’re made into a dry or saucy curry using spiced coconut paste, or soaked and blended into a batter for vadas.
“As a kid in boarding school, I remember not fully appreciating them. They were something I would reach for only when all else failed—the snooze-you-lose-situation in the dining hall. Life came full circle when everyone was hoarding beans at the beginning of the pandemic and I found myself standing in the canned foods aisle, staring at what was left. Here they were rescuing me yet again.
“In this recipe, it’s important to cook the base of the masala until you see it has a jammy texture, at which point it will stick to the bottom of the pan. This ensures your gravy won’t be bitter or watery. You could use other greens, like Swiss chard, collard, or spinach, though you may need to increase or decrease the cook time accordingly.” —Rachel Gurjar
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1 large white onion
4 garlic cloves
1 1″ piece ginger
1 bunch Tuscan or curly kale
3 15.5-oz. cans black-eyed peas
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. cayenne powder
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2¾ tsp. Morton salt
Cooked rice, roti, or sourdough bread and lime wedges (for serving)
Prep your ingredients: Finely chop 1 large white onion. To do this, start by cutting it in half through root end. Trim top, then peel away skin and first tough layer; discard. Leave root end on. Starting close to the board and moving upward, thinly slice through onion parallel to cutting board, leaving root end intact. Make thin lengthwise slices across onion, leaving root end intact. Slice onion crosswise, working from top to bottom to create small cubes. Run your knife through once more if any pieces are too big. You should have 2–3 cups chopped onion.
Smash, peel, and finely chop 4 garlic cloves. Peel one 1″ piece ginger with a spoon, then slice into planks. Stack 2 planks at a time and cut into thin matchsticks. Set aside. Remove ribs and stems from 1 bunch Tuscan or curly kale and discard. Tear leaves into 2″ pieces. Rinse three 15.5-oz. cans black-eyed peas in a fine-mesh sieve.
Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Cook onion and garlic, stirring often, until golden, 10–12 minutes.
Add 2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground turmeric, 1 tsp. garam masala, and ½ tsp. cayenne powder to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until incorporated and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add one 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until sauce darkens and thickens, 10–14 minutes. The sauce should look jammy and will start to stick to the bottom of the pot.
Add black-eyed peas, 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and 4 cups water and stir to combine. Add kale in 2 batches, stirring and letting wilt slightly between additions. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until beans are tender and kale is tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and stir in reserved ginger.
Serve masala with rice, roti, or sourdough bread and lime wedges for squeezing over.