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Inspiration and Ghanaian Black Eye Pea Curry Recipe

by Jeanette on January 7, 2013 · 25 Comments
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This Ghanaian Black Eye Pea Curry is sweet and spicy, perfect served over a bowl of rice.

Ghanaian Black Eye Pea Curry © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Ghanaian Black Eye Pea Curry

After the flurry of our Christmas Eve Open House, celebrating the holiday season with family and friends, and some much needed downtime in warmer weather, I am trying to get back into some sort of routine. I’ve been laying low since the New Year, reflecting on the year that just passed, and the year ahead of us.  I no longer make New Year resolutions – instead, I seek inspiration for the coming year and set broader goals for myself.

This weekend, we bade farewell to a beautiful young couple, who is returning to Ghana to be with their family. The wife has cancer, and after exhausting all cancer treatment possibilities here in the U.S., is returning to her homeland to seek alternative, holistic cancer treatment, in the comfort and support of family members.

I can’t even begin to describe the impact this family has had on my life and our family over the past year. The joy my friend with cancer expresses despite the pain and suffering she has undergone the past 18 months, the love that her husband and family have showered upon her, the peace this young couple exhibits, and the unwavering faith they have shown have been truly inspirational.

I barely knew this young couple last summer when I first introduced myself. However, I was drawn to them and felt the urge to reach out and offer to help in whatever small way I could. I still remember when I approached them at church one Sunday and offered to cook for them. At first, I think they wondered why a complete stranger would want to do such a thing. Thankfully, they allowed me to cook for them, and they introduced me to Ghanaian food, a cuisine I knew nothing about. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to drive my friend to have her chemo pump removed every other week. Last week, I made a Ghanaian inspired dinner for them before their trip abroad.

Ghanaian Tangerine Ginger Chicken © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Tangerine Ginger Chicken

This weekend, during an intimate farewell gathering of church and family members, my friend expressed thanks for all that her new community of friends had done for her, including the meals, popsicles, and rides that I had given her. The funny thing is this – I did so little for her and her husband in comparison to everything that they have given me and my family. You see, they have inspired my husband and me more than they will ever know – to be more joyful and faithful despite obstacles we might face, to appreciate everything that we have been blessed with, and to use the gifts that we have been given to help whoever we can, no matter how small a task.

Jollof Rice with Shrimp © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Jollof Rice with Shrimp

The intimate friendship that we have developed with this family that we barely knew last year is truly incredible. When you put yourself out there, make yourself vulnerable, and give a little of yourself, you gain so much more than you will ever expect. In this world of hurried pace, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the small things that we can do for one another because that small thing can be a big thing for someone else. Use your gifts to help others without expecting anything in return. You might be surprised – the intangible reward you will reap is far more than you can ever imagine.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Small Potatoes

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Small Potatoes

We continue to pray for a miraculous healing for my friend and thank her and her husband for the inspiration that they have given so many, including our family.

Ghanaian Black Eye Pea Curry
You can also use frozen black-eyed peas - just follow the instructions on the package to cook.
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • minced cilantro and scallion, for garnish, optional
  1. Place soaked beans and 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onions, tomatoes and chili pepper. Saute until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chili powder, coconut milk, turmeric, and broth. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, thin with some more broth or water.
  3. Add cooked black eyed peas and salt; simmer an additional 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Serve with fresh minced cilantro and scallion, if desired.
Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson.
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  1. This sound delicious. I’m a huge fan of black-eyed peas.

    • Thanks Kalyn – I don’t cook much with black-eyed peas, but I do like how creamy they are in this dish.

  2. What a great dish – that whole meal looks amazing Jeanette and it’s awesome how you were able to touch each others lives!

    • Alyssa – it is amazing how the little things you do can someone turn into huge rewards without ever intending them to be. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

  3. I love black-eyed peas and don’t cook with them enough. I also love to learn about African cuisines, so this is a recipe that’s going on my to-make list.

    • I’m new to African cuisine, so it has been an adventure, but I have learned how healthy it actually is.

  4. You are such an amazing friend, Jeanette!! I will pray for your friend – thanks for an excellent reminder of the things in life that are truly important.

    • Thanks for your prayers Kathy. When things like this happen, it really puts life in perspective, especially as I get older.

  5. There are so many life lessons in this one post. I’m sure that your friend feels just as blessed by your friendship and show of compassion as you do by her strength and joy in the face of illness. What a wonderful story (and meal!)

    • Thanks Dara – it is so interesting what you learn by doing something, no matter how small, for someone else. I was so touched by what my friend said, when I felt I had received so much from her. She and her family have been a true blessing to our family.

  6. Thank you for sharing this story with all of us. How truly beautiful and remarkable. I will pray for your friend. Hugs, France.

    • Thanks for your prayers France – over the years, I’ve learned to be bolder and just put myself out there, not an easy task for an introvert like myself, but I have gained so much in relationships and matured as a result.

  7. Jeanette, This is a beautiful reminder of how it truly is better to give than to receive. Thank you for sharing this story. We are often so wrapped up in our own lives we forget how healing and powerful small acts of kindness can impact others and give us so much, too. Happy new year!

    • Sally, that saying does ring so true. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives as you say. I do that as well, but I find that when I take the focus away from my own family and put it on someone else, it brings so much more joy.

  8. What a beautiful post, Jeanette! There’s a quote that says something to the effect that when we show kindness to others we receive far more than we give away. I know it’s true from my own experiences and your story is another perfect example. I send all good thoughts and prayers to your friends. Thanks for sharing their story and this recipe (and other dish ideas).


    • Thank you Shirley – that quote is so true. As I get older and have more life experiences, I have learned to be more patient and giving, and it has really made a huge difference in my life.

  9. Oh Jeanette, I could eat this all day long!

  10. What a beautiful post and such a touching gesture to make a Ghanaian meal for your friends before they went back to Ghana. I’ve had Nigerian and Ethiopian food before, but I don’t think I’ve had any Ghanaian dishes–I’d love to try this!

    • Thank you Kiersten, I’ve only had Ethiopian food once, and I would love to try authentic Ghanaian food.

  11. Oh Jeanette, I can just feel your heartbreak for your friends. I hope that at home in Ghana, she can get the love and support she needs, if not to recover then to be surrounded by loved ones at the end. I can’t say I’ve ever had any food from Ghana but now I’d love to try some!

    • Thanks for your kind thoughts Carolyn – I know my friend will get all the support from family back in Ghana. We will miss her and her family dearly, but returning to her home country is the right path for her right now. Praying for a miracle.

  12. Oh Jeanette. My heart breaks to hear about your friend. She is very fortunate to have a sweet friend like you. Thanks for sharing this. It looks delicious and now it has special meaning.

    • Wendy – it has been a tough journey for my friend, and I am just amazed by how positive she and her family have been throughout it all. Cooking is my way of showing I care – there are so many things we cannot control, so when my friend’s family asked me to cook some Ghanaian food for them, I was more than willing to give it a try.

  13. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, you really have such a kind and generous heart Jeanette. We need more people like you in the world.

  14. Yum! I hope you share more Ghanian food! And I hope your friend finds, if nothing else, peace and dignity going home.

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