This Ghanaian Black Eye Pea Curry is sweet and spicy, perfect served over a bowl of rice.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 1 cup dried black eyed peas soaked overnight
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion chopped
- 2 to matoes 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
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.
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.
Add cooked black eyed peas and salt; simmer an additional 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
Serve with fresh minced cilantro and scallion, if desired.
Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson.