Category Archives: Africa-general

Black-eyed Peas in Coconut milk

Black-eyed peas are one of those overlooked ingredients that I rarely cook with but always enjoy. Here’s another adaptation of a dish from Marcus Samuelsson’s “The Soul of a New Cuisine”.  Starting with dried beans makes this an economical side dish, and I’m eating it with pork and collard greens for the full ‘Southern’ effect :)

black eyed peas
Coconut Black-Eyed Peas

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1/4 cup butter or spiced butter (niter kibbeh)
1/2 white onion, chopped
3-4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 green chile pepper or jalapeno, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. Berbere spice (or 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder + 1/2 tsp. ground cumin)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
Cilantro, to garnish

Soak the dried black-eyed peas in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the black-eyed peas, add new water and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion, chile pepper, and tomatoes. Saute for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, coconut milk and chili powder or Berbere. Stir briefly to combine. Then add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes (this can be done while you are cooking the black-eyed peas).

When the sauce is thickened, add the drained black-eyed peas and salt to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the flavors are well-blended. This could be served as a side dish, or on top of rice for a main dish.


Spiced Semi-mashed Vegetables

I enjoy reading cookbooks, and The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson was a fun one this weekend. Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, and brings both of those cultures into his cooking. This cookbook is focused on fusion/modernized recipes stemming from African tradition.

The first one I decided to try was this riff on irio – a mashed potato dish with corn and peas. I really like the idea of a mashed potato that isn’t completely smooth, but has some chunks in it.  And this recipe is even better because it involves spices and uses sweet potato instead of white potato. Here’s my adaptation.

Spiced Semi-mashed Vegetables
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves, peeled

Toss with 2 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic and continue roasting until sweet potato is tender and just starting to brown – about 25 more minutes. Then add the garlic back.


Mash with a fork or spoon in a bowl. Don’t worry about this getting completely smooth. Set aside.


3 Tbsp. butter (or Ethiopian spiced butter is even better, there are multiple recipes out there on the web)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno or other green chile, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans, thawed briefly in boiling water
1+ tsp. Berbere, Ras el hanout, or any favorite spice blend, to taste
Salt, to taste

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat, add the ginger, carrot, onion, and jalapeno. Stir and saute until onion is translucent and carrot is cooked. Add the green beans and spice blend and continue to cook and stir until everything is cooked. If you like your vegetables well-cooked, you can add a bit of water and simmer to cook further. Personally, I prefer my veggies ‘snappy’, so I didn’t do that step!

Then add the sweet potato mash back into the pan, stir well, and season with salt. This recipe makes enough for 4 hearty servings as a side dish.

final dish