“Black-eyed peas are commonly used across India and go by the names lobia, longi, alasande kalu, and chawli, among others. In Maharashtra, they’re made into usal using fresh coconut and fennel seeds. In the Southern part of India, they’re made into a dry or saucy curry using spiced coconut paste, or soaked and blended into a batter for vadas.
“As a kid in boarding school, I remember not fully appreciating them. They were something I would reach for only when all else failed—the snooze-you-lose-situation in the dining hall. Life came full circle when everyone was hoarding beans at the beginning of the pandemic and I found myself standing in the canned foods aisle, staring at what was left. Here they were rescuing me yet again.
“In this recipe, it’s important to cook the base of the masala until you see it has a jammy texture, at which point it will stick to the bottom of the pan. This ensures your gravy won’t be bitter or watery. You could use other greens, like Swiss chard, collard, or spinach, though you may need to increase or decrease the cook time accordingly.” —Rachel Gurjar