Spicy-hot, featuring dimensional multiple layers of flavor, this creamy coconut milk-enriched potage will almost certainly join your family’s list of regularly repeated favorites (unless your family numbers a majority of straight salt-and-pepper only, meat-and-potatoes eater with no tolerance for envelope-pushing). Even with reduced-fat coconut milk, its richness comes through clearly, mitigating and blending the spices and peppers.
I’ll admit that there are probably few American pantries with a jar of Tanzanian-style curry powder sitting around, so please don’t fret over it. (Use what you have on hand, or if you like, scroll down this page and make the version you’ll find there)
Tanzania was formed in 1964, when two former British colonies, Tanganyika (on mainland East Africa) and the large island of Zanzibar (and its accompanying archipelago of many smaller islands), joined to become the United Republic of Tanzania. With Africa’s highest mountain (Kilimanjaro) and deepest lake (Lake Tanganyika), with coastal areas and a central plateau, the country is diverse geographically, ecologically, and agriculturally. The coast’s coconut palms and banana trees, seasonings brought by immigrants from the India, the cloves for which Zanzibar is famous, and the widely grown beans all come together in this lush soup.
TANZANIAN BLACK-EYED PEA & COCONUT SOUP WITH BANANAS
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish, when accompanied by the cooked rice called for and some greens — either cooked or as a salad, or 6 to 8 as a hearty starter
1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked over
1 quart water
2 tablespoons oil, ideally coconut (but any mild vegetable oil will do)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
1 small hot pepper, seeds left in for heat or removed for mildness, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder, preferably Tanzanian-style (see All About Curry for details, but don’t fret
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon honey, sorghum, or maple syrup
1 ¾ cups unsweetened coconut milk (1 15-ounce can), regular or reduced-fat
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 just ripe, but not overly ripe, banana, sliced thickly
For serving: about 2 ½ cups hot, cooked long-grain white rice
For garnish: toasted coconut flakes, optional; banana chips, optional
- Combine black-eyed peas and water in a large, heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and let cook, partially covered, until black-eyes are tender (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
- During the last half hour or so of the bean’s cooking, heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy oil-sprayed or non-stick skillet. Add the onion, and let it cook until it begins to soften, about 6 minutes. Then stir in the green and chile peppers and the ginger. Cook another 4 minutes, stirring often. Lower heat slightly, and add the curry powder and cloves, sautéing for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir the sauté into the simmering black-eyed pea, along with the tomato, honey or sorghum, and the coconut milk. Let simmer, gently, for 5 to 10 minutes. Salt the soup now — to taste, but generously — and pepper it likewise.
- Just before serving, add the sliced banana. Serve, hot, with a scoop of hot rice in each bowl. Garnish with toasted coconut shreds and a few banana chips.
Vegetarian Tanzanian Black-Eyed Pea, “Beef”, & Coconut Soup with Bananas: Use an extra tablespoon or so of vegetable or coconut oil, and, before you begin sautéing the vegetables, brown one 8-ounce package “ground beef style” soy meat substitute, such as Light Life’s “Gimme Lean!” ground beef style. Remove the browned soy-meat from the skillet, add a little additional oil, and proceed with the sauté and remaining recipe as given, adding the browned ground soymeat to the black-eyes at the same time that you add the sauté, coconut milk, and tomatoes. Alternatively, if your soy meat is already “cooked” (that is, firm, and in discrete little crumbles, like sautéed ground beef) , saute just the vegetables (as in the basic recipe) and add them along with the soy crumbles to the cooked black-eyes.