This is harder than I thought it would be

Wow, so dramatic. The title of this post refers to making more Hare Krishna food: lobia, or black-eyed peas in tamarind-ginger sauce. (Sorry, I don’t know how to link to a particular part of the page. Help?) I’m in a food rut and nothing sounded good except more interesting bean-based dishes, so that’s what I did (and a vegetable recipe that I hope will be better than last week’s—last week’s turned into such a debacle that I couldn’t even post about it).

I had this weird idea that I had seen tamarind paste in my grocery store before, but of course I was wrong and it was guava paste. I ended up buying a box of whole tamarinds, and then discovered I probably shouldn’t have bought sweet ones, but I didn’t know there were different types of tamarinds. So this dish probably didn’t come out the way it was supposed to.

I own a lot of black-eyed peas now. I’m not sure if I like them.

That was step one in the unexpected difficulties. I soaked my black-eyed peas overnight and, the next day, boiled the water they were in and then added some ginger, turmeric, and chili powder. I then left it to cook for a while.

Then I had to make the tamarind paste. I researched a bit and it seems like the way to do it is to remove the shells (and I also removed the weird net stuff surrounding the pulp)…

…and cook them in a very small amount of water for ten or fifteen minutes, and then strain, pushing the pulp against the strainer. I started out using a fork and my spider, and then switched to my fingers. I think it actually turned out how it was supposed to, which was a huge surprise. (Well, except for it being the wrong flavor.) (I couldn’t take any pictures of the cooking because of the way it looked, and apparently I forgot to take any pictures of the paste. It just looked like red paste.)

Then I did some stuff for the vegetables, which we’ll get to sometime later in the week, and then I seeded, de-ribbed, and chopped the serranos. It’s been probably about an hour and my fingers are still burning. (I have washed them at least three times.) I may never buy serranos again. I added the chiles, tamarind paste, and ginger to the beans and let them keep cooking.

The second part of the difficult madness was making the garam masala. I knew no grocery stores near me were going to have it, but I thought I had enough of the spices already that I could find an easy recipe, mix them together, and just have my own. I did—this one is kind of a rudimentary garam masala, I think; ground spices, no toasting, and not even that many spices—but then THE FRICKIN CARDAMOM. I was like, well, my mini food processor is supposed to also be a spice grinder, so I’ll just grind my whole green cardamom pods (which I bought a few weeks ago in an Indian grocery store; I can’t remember if I told you). So I put them in and turn it on, and all the green pods start breaking and the little black seeds come out. It turns out that the black seeds are the part that you’re actually supposed to use. So I was like, ugh, fuck.


Also, every part of my hands and face, for some reason, were burning because of the serranos, and at some point I accidentally rubbed my eye, so my eye started burning, and I think I breathed in some cardamom dust, so that sucked too. I wasn’t very pleased.

Then I finished cooking it. It wasn’t that bad. Well, it was, but if you actually buy your ingredients it will be easy for you.

I am not trying very hard here.


Oh, and verdict: tastes good, but low on flavor, probably because (a) I forgot to add salt and (b) my spices are all really old. Don’t make either of these mistakes. Sorry this was such a boring post. It’s like eighty billion degrees in here.

Lobia (Black-eyed Peas with Tamarind-Ginger Sauce)
Adapted from

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
2 tsp grated ginger root, divided
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1-2 green chiles, chopped (I used two serranos; it’s not spicy AT ALL and my hands hurt, so I don’t recommend anything about this approach)
1 tbsp tamarind paste (ideally storebought, or made from *nonsweet* tamarinds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I used 1/4 tsp ground cumin because I can’t stand the seeds)
1 1/2 tsp asofoetida (I didn’t do this because it wasn’t in the written instructions. I think I have to stop using this website. WHEN DO YOU ADD IT??? UGH. WHATEVER.)
1/4 tsp garam masala
2-3 tbsp cilantro leaves

Soak beans in 3-4 c water overnight. The next day, bring to a boil (I drained them and added 3 1/2 c of new water) and add 1 tsp ginger, and the chili powder and turmeric. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 45-50 minutes, until peas are cooked but not mushy. (You may want to stop before they’re cooked all the way, actually, since they’ll mushify during the rest of the cooking process.) Add the rest of the ginger, chiles, and tamarind; mix and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Add the cumin and garam masala (if you’re using cumin seeds, dry toast them first); stir and cook for five more minutes. Garnish with cilantro. (I didn’t.)

This is a carefully composed shot of Fitzpatrick sleeping, with an Austrian postcard and a map of the Moscow subway. I am in a huge fight with him right now. I have 18 (just counted) scratch/bite marks on my hands and arms. And no, I am not torturing him, and he’s healthy, according to the vet.


2 thoughts on “This is harder than I thought it would be

  1. I can always pick spices up for you if you need it; there are two health food stores near me that stock a pretty wide variety (I actually found berbere mix).

  2. Pingback: Ghanaian stew, kind of | The Relatively Shitty Cook

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