The black-eyed pea, a subspecies of cowpeas, is not a pea but a type of bean or legume from the pulse family. In fact, in many parts of the world, black eyed peas are popularly known as black eyed beans. The black-eyed pea is grown and consumed all around the world in numerous forms. The Black eyed peas have a characteristic kidney shape and are pale in color with a prominent black spot in the center. The beans have a scented aroma, creamy texture, and distinctive flavor. Hoppin’ John, Texas Caviar, Soul food, and buñuelo are some of the famous Black eyed pea recipes.
Culinary History of Black Eyed Pea
Black eyed pea was first domesticated and cultivated for human consumption in the African continent. Historical data suggest that Greeks and Romans widely consumed Black eyed pea dishes. It may have been introduced into India and China as long as 3,000 years ago. The Black eyed peas were probably introduced to the New World by Spanish explorers and African slaves during the 18th century. During civil war, Sherman's troops ignored the fields of "field beans"; as a result, Black eyed pea gained great importance in Confederate states of South USA.
Culinary Uses of Black Eyed Pea
There are numerous ways of using Black eyed peas; they may be used to prepare cold salads, soups, curries, stews, fritters, and casseroles. Black eyed peas may also be cooked as a vegetable dish and served with rice on the side. In many cuisines, Black eyed peas are cooked with milk or coconut milk to prepare a delectable dessert. Black eyed pea may also be ground or pureed to prepare a savory pancakes. Sprouted and ground Black eyed peas can be used as weaning food.
Black Eyed Peas Across the World
Black eyed pea recipes are prepared almost all over the world. India, China, the Caribbean islands, Southern states of America, Northern and western Africa, Greek and Rome, are some of the regions where Black eyes pea recipes have been traditionally prepared for many years.
Black Eyed Pea Recipes From Around the World
In India, Black eyed peas are known as “lobia” or “Chawalie,” and used to prepare “daal” – a lentil/legume based thick soup. In Portuguese cuisine, these peas are normally served with seafood or as a part of salads. The Vietnamese prepare a type of pudding (Che Dau Trang) by cooking Black eyed peas and sticky rice in coconut milk, while Black eyed pea fritters called as "buñuelo" are prepared in Columbia. Akkra is a famous mashed Black eyed pea recipe from Africa and Caribbean. However, the most popular and famous Black eyed bean recipes come from Southern United States. Hoppin John (a dish prepared using pork, Black eyed beans, and rice) is the traditional recipe, typically made for the New Year feast. Texas Caviar is another popular dish from the Southern states.
Common Methods of Cooking Black Eyed Peas
Unlike other beans Black eyed peas are quick to cook. Though, soaking fresh beans is not necessary, soaking and discarding the water helps in leaching out the gas forming chemicals from the beans.
Boiling is the most preferred method of cooking Black eyed beans. Boiled black eyed beans may be further cooked in a variety of ways to suit the recipe being used. However, fresh black eyed peas may be stir-fried without boiling. In certain parts of the world, soaked Black eye peas are ground, mixed with spices and deep fried to prepare Black eyed bean fritters or roasted on a girdle to make pancakes (called Cheela in India).
Hoppin’John – the classic Black Eyed Peas Recipe from South United States
Hoppin’ John is an African-American dish customarily prepared during the Jewish New Year. This tradition was brought into USA by the first Jewish settlers around the year 1730, since then the United Sates has made this dish it own.
To prepare Hoppin’ John, the black eyed peas are first cooked with pork, combined with diced onions, spices, and condiments, and splattered with chilli sauce and pepper before serving. The dish is typically served with corn bread.
Nutritive Value of Black Eyed Peas
Black eyed pea is an excellent source of protein, plus is rich in calcium (211 mg in a 1 cup serving), essential micronutrients like Vitamin A (1,305 IU), Folic acid (209mcg), and other B Vitamins. It contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, copper, phosphorous and manganese. Moreover, being low in Sodium and rich in fibers,Black eyed beans are being purported to be highly heart friendly diet inclusions.
Buying Black eyed Peas
Black eyed peas are available almost all year long in one or more forms (dried, fresh, or frozen) and sizes. When buying Black eyed beans, always choose large, oblong beans with pale yet healthy color. Avoid beans that are soft and soggy, with mold growing over the bean skin.
Tips for Storing Black eyed Peas
Always store dried Black Beans in a dry airtight container at room temperature. Do not store dry beans in the refrigerator. Once cooked, beans can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container; the beans will stay good for up to 5 days. Canned Black eyed beans with a shelf life of over one year are available too; however, once opened these must be used immediately.
US President George Washington promoted Black eyed peas cultivation in United States to help enhance the nitrogen levels in the soil.