More peas please…
Growing up, lunch was a hot homemade meal. Every day there was a bowl of freshly-stewed peas as an accompaniment to the meat or fish dish. Stewed peas is a Caribbean dish. It’s what fortifies the protein in a meal where meat cannot.
I enjoyed a variety of peas, lentils weren’t my favourite, I loved the tiny navy beans also called gub-gub, then there were red beans, black-eyed peas, channa, and split peas –both green and yellow. Split peas were put into kitcheree and dhal-puri roti, my mom made "real" phulorie with ground yellow split peas.
Then I moved abroad and peas dropped out of my kitchen basics. I bought red beans in cans and used them only to make chili con carne, I did the same with black beans. When I returned to Trinidad I began to cook then more earnestly, but not as frequently as I would have liked. It was only a few years ago I wanted to lessen my meat intake and in order to balance the protein I had to include more peas and beans, I made it a new year’s resolution one year, and I stuck with it.
Peas are high in protein, low in fat and are very sustaining. Digestion can be tricky because they are notorious for causing flatulence, an easy remedy is to add cumin to your pot of simmering beans which will help to alleviate the symptoms. It’s a spice widely used in Mexico and India when cooking peas.
Soaking the tougher peas overnight is necessary to remove some of the toxins that cause discomfort, split peas and lentils are exempt from this treatment because they have a more tender outer skin, the tougher peas such as black beans, red beans and channa all have tough outer skins that tend to trap the gases when they cook, soaking helps with this.
If you are trying to make your eating habits more healthy for 2023, reducing your animal meat consumption is a good way to start and supplementing with more peas and beans will give your overall health a boost providing they are prepared in a healthy way as well.
Here are some recipes to get you started! Happy New Year.
Lentil Rice Pilaf with Aromatics
1 cup lentils, boiled for 20 minutes and drained
2/3 cup basmati rice
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
2/3 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (without the juice)
2 tsp tomato paste
11/3 cups broth or water
Wash the rice and leave to drain.
Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and garlic, saute for about 3 minutes.
Add cinnamon, turmeric, curry and cumin, saute for another 2 minutes.
Add lentils and stir, add rice and stir.
Stir in tomatoes and paste.
Add broth or water.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.
Black Bean Soup
1 lb dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
4 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh thyme
2 onions, chopped
2 pimento peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tsp ground roasted cumin (geera)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbs salt
freshly-ground black pepper
½ cup chopped chives
1 tbs sherry
½ cup chopped fresh chadon beni
unflavoured thick yogurt for garnish
Soak beans overnight in 4 quarts of water, drain.
In a large soup pot heat olive oil, add garlic, thyme, onion and pepper saute for a couple of minutes, add black beans, stir and add enough water to cover beans.(About 6 to 8 cups). Add cumin, oregano, bay leaf, tomatoes, salt and black pepper and chives.
Bring to a boil cover and simmer, for about 2 hours.
To texturise the soup, puree half the beans in a food processor or blender, return to pot. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Add sherry. When serving place the soup in a wide-rimmed soup bowl, swirl in one tablespoon yogurt, and sprinkle with fresh chadon beni.
Serves 6 to 8
Chickpea and Tomato Salad
2 cups dried chickpeas.
4 salad tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped fresh herbs, chives chadon beni, basil, mint
For the dressing
4 cloves garlic
½ tsp paprika
4 tbs red wine vinegar
4 tbs lime juice
½ cup vegetable oil
2 rounded teaspoons ground roasted geera or cumin
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Soak chickpeas overnight, the next morning rinse and boil until tender in lots of water, about 1 hour. Drain and cool.
Place into a bowl then add herbs and tomatoes.
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and process until well blended.
Add to channa toss to coat.
Serves 6 to 8
"More peas please…"