Last Spring I had the opportunity to be “home” in the Caribbean during Pigeon peas season and luckily I had my camera with me so I was able to document my mom and dad making curry pigeon peas, to share with you. This is traditional as it gets, so even though I’ve shared a similar recipe in the past I felt it was important to show you this version as well. This is what I grew up enjoying as a young fella on the islands.
5-6 cups shelled pigeon peas
3 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon amchar massala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon roasted cumin (ground geera)
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic (grated)
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 cup water (for cooking curry)
4-5 cups boiling water
1 large tannia (2 potatoes will work)
1 teaspoon salt (adjust accordingly)
2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
3 tablespoon veg oil
Important: If doing this recipe gluten free please go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs. Especially the Curry powder you use as some may contain flour as a filler/thickener.
Fresh off the trees, the pigeon peas were shelled by my dad.. something which was my chore along with my brother and sisters (I hated doing). Then washed with cool water and set aside for cooking. The sort of skin or shell the peas were in could be used for feeding cows, goats and pigs.
In a heavy pot on a medium/low heat add the veg oil, followed by the curry powder and cook for about 3-4 minutes. The curry will go dark and you’ll be able to smell the scent of all the spices which makes up the curry blend. Then add the water (1/2 cup) and cook off the ‘raw’ taste of the curry. After-which you may go in with the onion, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper. Stir well and cook for a couple minutes.
You may now go in with the Cumin, amchar masala, turmeric and Caribbean Green Seasoning and stir well. Cook another 2 minutes or so.
Peel and slice the tannia and add it to the pot and stir well to completely coat with the curry base we’ve created.
Turn up the heat to high and add the pigeon peas, along with the salt and stir well. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. It will spring it’s own natural liquid. At this point you will reduce the heat a bit and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes uncover the pot and burn off any remaining liquid.. there shouldn’t be any/much. This step is to infuse the pigeon peas with that lovely curry flavor. Heat back on high, add the boiling water to the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a rolling boil and cook until the peas are tender. This will take between 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
After an hour and half this was fully cooked in our case, so mom went in with her swizzle stick and gave it a working to crush some of the peas the thicken the gravy. You may use a potato masher if you don’t have a swizzle stick. You’re basically done at this point.
Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. And there you go, a traditional technique Pigeon peas straight out of my dad’s garden. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.. and TASTY!
Do you own a copy of my cookbook ?- The Vibrant Caribbean Pot 100 Traditional And Fusion recipes Vol 2