Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lobia Masala (Cowpeas in Spicy gravy)

When a particular language does not have a name for a vegetable or legume, it's usually because it's not locally grown or not become a popular part of the regional cuisine. Karamani/Lobia/Raungi/Chowli - all different names for cowpeas or black eyed beans - goes to show that this is one legume which has penetrated many parts of India; unlike say, rajma or kabuli chana.

I was used to preparing karamani kozhambu in Chennai, a spicy tamarind and tomato based gravy from MIL's recipe. In Delhi, I learnt this recipe from Tara, our help at home.

She says its the Punjabi way of making it and she learnt it from the household she worked at last. It certainly uses the very Punjabi way of "bhuno" or frying the tomato-onion-masala mixture on slow heat till it comes together and becomes dry and dark. But what makes me think that the original recipe may have been adapted is that she grinds the tomato-onion-masala mixture after it has been fried, something which I don't think is very traditional.

Now, this recipe is the slow version when you have had the time to soak the cowpeas for about 3 hours.
When you haven't been able to soak the cowpeas for long, simply soak it for half an hour or so and then pressure cook the lobia for about 15 minutes on low. Cool and add to the masala made below and cook for about 10 more minutes.

Lobia, I have found, needs quite a bit of condiments to add taste to it, by itself it can make the dish pretty bland. So, cooking it along with the masala makes it much more flavourful than adding the lobia at the end.

This makes for a great accompaniment to rotis as well as rice and since it doesn't need to be soaked overnight, its perfect for a quick meal. Here, served with sticky potato (arvi) - recipe to follow.

Lobia Masala

Lobia - 1 cup, soaked in water for 3 hours

Tomatoes -3
Onions -2 medium
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Chopped coriander - 2 tbsp
oil - 1 tbsp
salt to taste

1. Heat 1/2 tbsp oil and saute the onions till they are brown.
2. Add the coriander powder, cumin powder and chilli powder and fry for about 5 minutes on low flame.
3. Add the tomatoes and saute for about 10-15 minutes till they become pulpy, then dry out to a brownish onion tomato mixture.
4. Remove from the pan and cool. Blend to a smooth paste.
5. Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp oil and put in the cumin seeds. When they change colour, add the fried tomato onion paste and saute for half a minute.
6. Drain the lobia and add to the pan, add salt and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
7. Simmer on a low flame, covered, till the lobia is soft and well cooked.
8. Add the garam masala at the end and cook for a minute before removing from flame.
9. Garnish with chopped coriander.


Mallika said...

Love lobia. I just buy a tin of cooked black eyed beans here and then get the recipe going. so simple.

Cham said...

I make karamani kuzhambu, but this one sounds delicious for roti!

TheCooker said...

That looks just delicious!
Any chance of you posting the recipe for karamani kuzhambu?

Miri said...

For you my dear Cooker definitely :) One karamani kozhambu coming up!!

Vaishali said...

I love that this recipe uses just a handful of ingredients. It looks delicious. I too would love to see the karamani kozhambu recipe.

Nina said...

hey i made this last night - its so yum! i'd soaked the lobia for about 4 hours - so after doing the masala i just popped it all into the cooker - 4 whistles later, dinner was served! you're right - when it cooks in the masala, the tastes seep in...waiting for karamani kozhambu

Miri said...

Cool! Glad you liked it :) I made another kozhambu - check that out!!