black-eyed pea curry

Recipes for black-eyed pea curry are common across all of India. Variously known as lobhia, chawli or raungi, every region of India prepares these in different ways.

This is the Goan way. It has plenty of chilli and coconut and a touch of tomato. This dish, alsande tonak, is a robust, spicy, hot preparation.

It is not suitable as a side dish. It should be the main item, just served with plain rice, and some good pickles and chutneys.

Black-eyed peas cook faster than other pulses, which means you can get this meal ready quickly. Even 30 minutes of soaking would suffice, but you will need to cook them a little longer. If you do not use a pressure cooker, they can be done on the stove-top quite adequately. Place the soaked black-eyed peas in a small pan, and simmer for around 30 minutes.

The only technical aspect to consider is being gentle with the cooked black-eyed peas. Once you transfer them to the pan with the masala, be careful not to break up their texture by stirring too much. If you break them up, you will end up with an unappetising stodge.

Also, be careful with adding water and salt. You will end up with a thin, watery and salty soup with a few black-eyed peas floating in it unless you exercise a light hand.

The best place to get black-eyed peas is your local health food shop. Look for creamy white colouring.

the recipe

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  • pressure cooker


for the masala

for the garlic and coconut

  • 1 tsp gingelly oil - (see notes)
  • 1 cup coconut - freshly grated
  • 1 brown onion - finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped

for the gravy

  • 1 tbsp gingelly oil - (see notes)
  • 1 red onion - finely chopped
  • 1 tomato - pulp removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

to serve


  • Wash black-eyed peas well, cover with cold water and soak for two hours.
  • Once soaked, drain the water and place them into a pressure cooker with 650ml of cold fresh water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, seal the pressure cooker and cook for ten minutes. Remove from heat and release the pressure cooker naturally.

for the masala

  • In a pan, fry the masala spices in one teaspoon of gingelly oil. Fry for one minute, or until spices become aromatic. Remove from heat and set spices aside to cool.

for the coconut paste

  • In the same pan, add one teaspoon of gingelly oil and fry the coconut, onion and garlic cloves for five minutes, or until it turns golden brown, and the raw garlic aroma goes away. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

for the gravy

  • Using a grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the fried masala spices and the fried coconut, onion and garlic together with as little water as possible to make a thick, smooth paste.
  • Bring the pan to medium heat. Add one tablespoon of gingelly oil and fry the red onion for about two minutes or until it softens.
  • Add the tomato and fry for about two minutes, or until it softens.
  • Add the paste made from the masala spices and coconut and mix well. Fry for two minutes, stirring continuously. You will get a spice and coconut aroma as this incorporates into the onion and tomato.
  • Add the cooked black-eyed peas and the water from the pressure cooker, and mix well, but gently. Use a folding technique to mix, as you do not want to break down the black-eyed peas. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Add water if required, but only 50ml at a time.
  • Check the seasoning and add salt, if required. Add the salt in tiny amounts, mix and taste again.

to serve

  • Transfer to a serving dish, add the coriander leaves, mix gently and serve.


  • Black-eyed peas are best sourced from a health food shop.
  • Be very gentle with the cooked black-eyed peas. Vigorous stirring will break down their texture and turn this dish to mush.
  • If you follow this recipe, you should not need to add additional water, which may make the dish thin and runny.
  • Gingelly oil is Indian sesame oil. It is very different from the Asian sesame oil, being much less intense in flavour. Substitute with vegetable oil if unobtainable.

private notes

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Serving: 175 g | Calories: 258 kcal | Carbohydrates: 29 g | Protein: 8 g | Fat: 13 g | Saturated Fat: 6 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 1177 mg | Potassium: 518 mg | Fiber: 10 g | Sugar: 7 g | Vitamin A: 665 IU | Vitamin C: 11.1 mg | Calcium: 67 mg | Iron: 3.5 mg

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