I hated going with our mom and dad to pick peas (harvest pigeon peas) in our garden as it was always in the afternoon when my friends would be playing football (soccer) plus the heat between the trees (from the day’s sun) was stifling. You had to sort through fully developed peas and avoid the younger ones which were not ready for harvesting. You couldn’t just grab the whole bunch off the trees and make fast work of the harvest. The good part about this job was that if I helped to pick peas I didn’t have to participate in shelling… something I hated even more (I would eat tons while shelling so I always got into trouble with our mom) and the residue on your fingers was not appealing.
Peas season (as we called the 2 month period where pigeon peas were in abundance) was a fun time for me as it always meant getting a good dose of two of my favorite dishes.. pelau and curry pigeon peas, so when I got access to fresh pigeon peas I knew right way that I had to share this recipe with you all.
3 cups pigeon peas (shelled)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 medium onion diced
4 cloves garlic crushed
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1.5 tablespoon curry powder
1 small tania (coco in Jamaica)
2 cups water
2 leaves shado beni (chadon beni, culantro) *
* I used fresh green pigeon peas, but I know this recipe works well with canned pigeon peas, but cooked for a shorter time and less water. Email me if you need help with that. If you can’t get the tania you can use 2 medium potatoes.
Heat the oil in a deep saucepan on medium heat. Add the diced onion and garlic, turn the heat down to low and cook for 3 minutes. With the heat still on low, add the curry powder (I used a madras blend made in the Caribbean) and stir well. Let that toast for about 3 minutes. It will cook the raw taste of the curry off and waken up the spices which make up the curry.
Now add the diced pepper and give it a quick stir.
Rinse and drain the pigeon peas then add it to the pot at this point. Turn up the heat, add the water, diced tania, salt, black pepper and shado beni. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes with the lid slightly ajar. If you’re using canned pigeon peas, cook for about 1/2 hr.
As the peas cook your kitchen will have that wicked scent of a good vegetable curry and do remember to stir it occasionally. The gravy will start to thicken up and if it’s till a bit thin, using the back of your spoon you can crush some of the now cooked peas to help thicken the gravy. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.You can also turn up the heat to burn off any extra liquid.
This is an excellent side for roti, rice or bread, and if you’re like me you’d even treat it as a soup? As it cools it will thicken up a bit so do keep that in mind when cooking off any extra liquid in the pot.