Spicy black eyed peas with kale: cooking your way to a happy and prosperous new year!

When I was a fourth-grader in a little town our school teacher once told us that whoever studies very hard on the new year's day gets excellent grades and wins all the academic prizes in the next year. You know how it goes, right? at that age a word from your favorite school-teacher is like a word of a God! We all took her very seriously and made it a point to study hard on the new year's day. It was sort of like a tradition that we followed in our class; the point of which was that the direction you give to the first day of the year, thats the direction your rest of the year takes :) Now I look back and laugh at the innocence with which we studied on 1st of Jan hoping that good marks and prizes will follow, but all along I think somewhere there was a hidden innocent satisfaction of trying to shape up the new year to be :) Such do-no-harm traditions are my favorites!

I learnt of a similar new year's day tradition recently which is observed in the southern United States and best of all this is a food tradition! In southern US it is traditional to eat a meal of black eyed peas alongwith some greens (usually sautéed collard greens) with cornbread on the first day of the year. The symbolism behind this is really cute! The black eyed peas swell during the process of cooking (from dried to cooked). The swelling of the peas indicates prosperity in the coming year. The greens indicate 'greens'=money for the new year! and the spiciness of the food is symbolic of the the spice in your life for the year ahead! More than the symbolism though I just love to follow this food tradition because I simply just love black eyed peas and would not pass up a single opportunity to cook a big batch of these delicious legume!

Being a lazy and greedy person that I am though I decided to cook all the prosperity, wealth and spiciness in one single pot instead of making multiple dishes :) hey, one pot meals rule, right? Anyway, so here is to prosperity, wealth, spiciness and happiness to all of you in the coming new year! Happy New Year!!

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Recipe Source: Something I put together with the ingredients at hand, though I doubt the method is unique.

1C dried black eyed peas
4C water
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 zucchini
4 large leaves of kale (can substitute with spinach)
1can diced fire roasted tomatoes (can substitute with fresh or regular canned tomatoes but fire roasted tomatoes bring out this smoky taste that I really like)
olive oil

1tsp hot chili paper flakes
2tsp cumin powder
1tsp paprika (smoked paprika preferred) -- for color; can substitute with red chili powder.
dash of hot sauce
pinch of oregano (thyme has worked well for me too)
salt, black pepper
juice of 1lemon (or lime)

  1. Rinse and pressure cook black eyed peas with 4C water. No soaking is necessary when you are pressure cooking the beans. With my pressure cooker I pressure cooked them for 3 whistles (alternative method in note1). A little underdone black eyed peas are okay as they will cook a bit more with the rest of the spices later.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium-low heat. Add chopped onions and cook for a few minutes.
  3. When onions are tender add finely chopped ginger and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes until aromatic.
  4. Next add chopped zucchini.
  5. Remove the stems from the kale leaves and tear the leaves up using your hand into small pieces. (I find that kale is much easier to tear using hands than chopping with a knife). Add kale to the pot and cook for just a few more minutes until the greens are wilted.
  6. Add canned tomatoes, paprika and chili flakes and cook for 10minutes or so until the rawness of the tomatoes is gone.
  7. Transfer cooked black eyed peas to the soup pot next. Add cumin, oregano, salt and hot sauce. Cook for 10more minutes on low heat uncovered.
  8. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and ground black pepper. Adjust the seasonings per taste. Serve hot with hot bread of rice!

1) Many people prefer the taste of stove-top cooked black eyed peas over pressure-cooked ones. I have tried both and honestly don't find much of a difference in flavor. Combine that with the ease of pressure cooking and a lazy person like me always favors pressure cooking method! If you want to try stove top method then just soak the beans overnight with enough water. Then cook them on stove-top for an hour or so with enough water until they are tender.
2) This recipe is a very forgiving one so feel free to substitute and experiment to your liking! Spiciness, smokiness are all relative, so please also adjust the seasonings as they suite you the best.

A hot bowl of this stew goes straight to MLLA18 hosted by Srivalli and started by Susan.

Here is wishing you and your near and dear ones a very happy and prosperous new year! I'll see you next year now, till then leaving you with a picture of my favorite flower: a purple orchid! We saw a big batch of these at our farmer's market a while ago. This is a picture my husband took to 'symbolically' gift me the flower (so much for the symbolism :-))


s said…
Happy New Year to u too.....as usual...AWESOME pics
pierre said…
hello PJ* Happy new year from A french foodie in Paris !!
Namitha said…
That curry looks fabulous..Wish you a wonderful 2010 PJ !!!!
PJ said…
s, thanks! Happy new year dear!

Pierre, welcome to my blog! Happy new year to you too :)

Gulmohar, thanks! I am so happy you liked it. A very happy new year to you too :)
indosungod said…
Lovely soup. Greens with beans is a great combination I have come to realize.

Happy New Year! PJ.
Pari Vasisht said…
Dear PJ, wish you a very happy new year dear.
I guess all teachers are alike and all children accept that with the same innocence. I liked this belief of prosperity and greens...so harmless and so good.
It just makes a good Misal isn't it. The dish looks wholesome and appetising.
Unknown said…
Looks so delicious, Happy New Year to you and your family.
Sushma Mallya said…
That looks very delicious,ur pictures are always very nice and u present them wonderfully...And wish you and your family a very happy & a prosperous new year filled with lots of happiness and love always...
PJ said…
indosungod, thanks! yes, beans and greens do seem to get along fairly well :) You have a great new year too!

Pari, oh, so good that you mentioned misal! I was thinking the same when I uploaded this picture :) Need to make it again for misal! Happy new year to you too, Pari!

A2Z vegetarian cooking, thanks :) I am so happy you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping by and you have a great new year dear!

Sushma, thanks so much :) a very happy new year to you and your near-n-dear ones as well, Sushma!
Sonia said…
Hey sweetie! Nice to know about Southern US food tradition on new year's day. OMG! you are master of soup-making! :)
I love this legume too...so forgiving and easy to prepare. I make Black-eyed-peas curry at least once in a month and always love it. Will share my recipe soon.
Happy New Year to you and your family! Have a great weekend! :)
Nupur said…
Well, that's quite the recipe for the perfect year ahead! Wishing you all good things in 2010.
Sayantani said…
Nice to know about Southern US food tradition. you are a master in lentil soups..this looks so good. bookmarked!
PJ said…
Hi Sonia, looking forward to your black eyed peas curry recipe! They are so fast to prepare and so tasty, right?! Happy new year to you too dear! Have a great day :)

Nupur, thanks :) wishing you the best of all things in 2010 as well!

Sayantani, thanks :) I am so happy you liked the recipe! Thanks for stopping by and have a great new year.
Desisoccermom said…
PJ, happy new year. I see your are already on your way to prosperity with this delicious soup. I usually make my black eyed beans by cooking onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic and the beans all in the pressure cooker. But I have never added greens to it.
I am so glad I found this recipe cause we are trying to eat kale this season and I have some in my fridge right now waiting to be cooked.
The only thing missing is smoked tomatoes but I am trying this today. Will let you know how it turns out. :)
Malar Gandhi said…
I agree 'no harm traditions are fine':) Oh really black eye peas and collard greens...I had black eye peas curry for lunch today...maybe shld plan on eating some greens for dinner, he he...

I really enjoyed ur write up.

Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year.:)
SE said…
Its been great to know you in 2009 and wishing you and your family a very happy and prosperous new year !!!
PJ said…
Jaya, you can probably substitute regular canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes for the fire roasted ones. Fire roasted tomatoes bring out a nice smoky flavor but I think the dish will be great even without. I hope you try it and do let me know how it goes! A very happy new year to you and your near-n-dear ones :)

Malar, thanks so much! I am very happy you liked it, and yes, you should have 'greens' too tonight :) Have a very happy new year dear!

SE, exactly my feelings! I am looking forward to a new year filled with great recipes from you! Thanks for stopping by.
Dolly Sharma said…
PJ, LOve Ur Spicy black eyed peas with Kale. Its healthy and looks yummy and to top that its quick and easy to make. Its a win-win.Will Surely make some soon as we all love soups in my house. After reading abt the Southern US Tradition, I'm making this soup tomorrow itself, I'm late by a day but I guess it will still be fine. Wishing you prosperity, happiness, wealth and spiciness in 2010. Also let me thank you for all the love and support extended to me and my blog. That surely is a great motivation to keep blogging.
Rahin said…
Hi PJ, Happy New Year ! the beans look gorgeous , perfectly cooked :)
Indhu said…
love the soup recipe... and nice to learn something new about food traditions... will keep you posted about my strength training program.. hope you can update me too... would love to know how you are doing on that front :)
Cham said…
Healthy way to start the year.
Wishing you and Dear one a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Deepti said…
Thanks for dropping by my place...you hv a wonderful blog n awesome recipes with lovely pics...wishing u a very happy new yr.
PJ said…
Hi Dolly, thanks so much for your kind and nice words :) I feel exactly the same way; I look forward to great new recipes from you in the year ahead!

Rahin, thanks and a very happy new year to you and your loved ones too!

Indhu, thanks for stopping by! I will surely keep you updated! Happy new year!

Cham, thanks and a very happy and prosperous new year to you too! Looking forward to a great year filled with lots of new recipes from you :)

Deepti, thanks! I am so happy you enjoyed this blog. A very happy new year to you too!
Srivalli said…
Thanks for the lovely entry PJ, pictures look great!
Yasmeen said…
A truly healthy tradition,I'd love to start the new year with this nutritious one pot meal.My best wishes for 2010,dear PJ :D
Miri said…
Greens with the peas sounds like a great idea - black eyed peas always need a little something more to make them interesting, not like rajma or chana which has its own flavour!
PJ said…
Thanks Srivalli! You have been a wonderful host for this event :)

Yasmeen, thanks and a very happy and nutritious new year to you and your near-n-dear ones!

Miri, so true! Black eyed peas do need something to bring out the flavor.. greens and tomatoes are my favorites! Thanks for stopping by :)
rajani said…
happy new year pj, hope your year is full of beans, greens and spices! :)
Sarah Naveen said…
Wow!!! That looks terrific..Yummy, healthy ..I m drooling
PJ said…
Rajani, thanks :) wish you a very happy and prosperous new year as well! I am virtually sending you a dish of this spicy beans with greens too :)

Sarah, lovely picture! Thanks I am so happy you liked this dish :)
Soma said…
I love this recipe; looks comforting warm and hearty. I cook kale with chickpeas, but I guess with black eyed peas it is going to be quicker and smooth.

Happy New Year.
PJ said…
Thanks Soma! Yeah, I love black eyed peas for their quick cooking and smoothies texture.