A Little Bit of Luck
If you are hoping for good health, wealth, and prosperity in the New Year, improve your chances by adding “good luck” options to your diet. Anything green, because of its positive associations — dollar bills, four-leaf clover, jade.
Black-eyed peas are perhaps the best-known good luck food. According to John Egerton’s “Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, in History,” black-eyed peas possess a “mystical and mythical power to bring good luck and have been a Southern staple for more than three centuries.”
This attractive nugget is called a pea but is actually a bean. Peas and beans are legumes and boast solid nutritional benefits. Black-eyed peas are believed to lower blood pressure, increase folate intake, and promote skin and eye health.
They take center stage in this masala recipe and provide enough texture to fill you up on a cold January night.
Along with garam masala, a flavorful spice blend that differs regionally throughout India, this dish also has a spice called asafoetida, which will have you wondering where it has been all your life. Garam masala usually consists of fennel, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and mace. However, since it is a blend, no two versions are ever really the same. It is aromatic and robust, which makes it perfect for stews and soups.
Asafoetida, on the other hand, is used to enhance a dish in the same way as salt. It is also the perfect substitute for those whose digestive systems can’t tolerate garlic, onions, and leeks. Use it in small quantities. This exotic spice is made from the dried resin of a giant fennel plant and is native to India, Iran, and Afghanistan. If you cannot find it in your grocery store, you can count on Amazon.
Try your luck with this new dish for the new year. May your 2024 be filled with all kinds of good luck.
Black-eyed Pea Masala
2 cups dried black-eyed peas
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 t. cumin seeds
1/8 t. asafoetida
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 T. garlic, minced
¼-½ t. cayenne
1 t. turmeric
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 t. garam masala
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish
Pick over the dried peas, removing any debris, and rinse. Cover with water and allow to soak for 8 hours. Drain peas just before cooking.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add onions. Cook, stirring until onions soften. Add cumin seed and cook for 1 minute. Add the asafoetida, ginger, and garlic and stir for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn. Add the peas, two cups of water, and all remaining ingredients. Bring to a low boil.
Cover and simmer until the peas are tender (30-60 minutes, depending on the age of your peas). Check seasoning and add more salt and garam masala if necessary.
Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and serve with rice, naan, or a baguette.