Black-eye bean masala with spinach

So I am 4 days into the first working week of the year. It’s been OK. It has mostly been admin-filled. This has been busy enough. One day I got rather enthusiastic about one of the projects I have been working on and did a 12-hour shift. A bizaare concept in this current world, to be doing that at home. Try as I might, sometimes I blur the boundaries between work and home. It’s a bit silly really, especially as it turned out that nobody was as interested in the work as me. Disappointing but I guess other people have their priorities.

Anyway, in trying to make working at home at bit more ‘normal’, I decided to cook lunch. Normally Ignacio whips up a pasta dish and in the summer it was salads but today I thought about my work colleagues who would be cooking for their children while home schooling and thought I might as well nuture ‘the child within’. I know, I know, it’s not the same, it’s not comparable it was just the thought that came to me.

My sister shared this recipe (Black-eyed pea masala with kale)with me and our other sister and it has been on the cards for a few days now. Canned black-eye peas are not a thing for me, so I soaked one cup of black-eye beans for 2 days.

It turned out that this took much longer than expected. I brought the work laptop and my work mobile phone into the kitchen and I actually ended up replying to multiple SystmOne instant messages and e-mails in between chopping and tearing up vegetables. We have a weekly teaching session on Tuesday afternoon, and I found myself joining the MS Teams session, a 3 pm, in my kitchen with my apron on. I’m not sure if anyone noticed but there was no comment made! I eventually left the food to quietly stew and returned to the 2nd bedroom/home-office and continued the meeting in a more professional manner ‘sans’ apron.

We finally got to eat the finished product just after five, an incredibly late lunch. But well worth the wait. It was delicious. I did make a few adjustments. I am a not a great fan of kale so I replaced this with spinach. I do not have cayenne pepper so I used spicy paprika instead. It’s a lovely simple recipe to make and I have all of the ingredients as a staple in my cupboards and freezer (there always seems to be a container of frozen spinach in the freezer, I’m guessing a hangover from my childhood). I made some coconut rice, that complemented this really nicely.

Like the bagels (last one finished today), I would like this to become a staple food item for the next few months. I am trying to reduce the mental burden when it comes to meals and mealtimes and this is just the type of meal that can also be stored and frozen for days when I have to go into work and take a lunch with me. Also black-eye beans are also hangover from my childhood, so I might indulge this, in the time when we need to take care of ourselves and each other.

Previous black-eye recipes:



1 large white onion

4 garlic cloves

11″ piece ginger

1 bunch Tuscan or curly kale

315.5-oz. cans black-eyed peas

¼cup extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground turmeric

1tsp. garam masala

½tsp. cayenne powder

114.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2¾ tsp. Morton kosher saltCooked rice, roti, or sourdough bread and lime wedges (for serving)



Prep your ingredients: Finely chop 1 large white onion. To do this, start by cutting it in half through root end. Trim top, then peel away skin and first tough layer; discard. Leave root end on. Starting close to the board and moving upward, thinly slice through onion parallel to cutting board, leaving root end intact. Make thin lengthwise slices across onion, leaving root end intact. Slice onion crosswise, working from top to bottom to create small cubes. Run your knife through once more if any pieces are too big. You should have 2–3 cups chopped onion.


Smash, peel, and finely chop 4 garlic cloves. Peel one 1″ piece ginger with a spoon, then slice into planks. Stack 2 planks at a time and cut into thin matchsticks. Set aside. Remove ribs and stems from 1 bunch Tuscan or curly kaleand discard. Tear leaves into 2″ pieces. Rinse three 15.5-oz. cans black-eyed peasin a fine-mesh sieve.


Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Cook onion and garlic, stirring often, until golden, 10–12 minutes.


Add 2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground coriander1 tsp. ground turmeric1 tsp. garam masala, and ½ tsp. cayenne powder to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until incorporated and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add one 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until sauce darkens and thickens, 10–14 minutes. The sauce should look jammy and will start to stick to the bottom of the pot.


Add black-eyed peas, 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and 4 cups water and stir to combine. Add kale in 2 batches, stirring and letting wilt slightly between additions. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until beans are tender and kale is tender, about 10 minutes.


Remove pot from heat and stir in reserved ginger.


Serve masala with rice, roti, or sourdough bread and lime wedges for squeezing over.

2 responses to “Black-eye bean masala with spinach”

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